He always had the stats and the hype.
He came to Notre Dame with the Southern Cal hair and the Tom Cruise swagger, delivered onto campus on Day One in a limousine that had the Golden Domers seething.
Even when he put up staggering numbers the last game last year in Hawaii and the first three games this year, he got no cred outside South Bend. Big numbers in shootout games. So what.
Forget that each ball was a laser beam and and half his incompletions were drops.
That ended in West Lafayette, Indiana last Saturday, courtesy of Purdue.
He turned into Joe Montana, circa Houston in the Cotton Bowl.
He became John Elway.
Even Tate Fourcier.
Down by four, he drove the Irish 72 yards with three minutes left without his starting halfback and all-World wideout.
He hit his Pro Bowl tight end, Kyle Rudolph, with 24 seconds left to win the game, 24-21.
He did it with an injured turf toe that had him miss large portions of the game allowing sophomore QB Dayne Crist to do his best Coley O'Brien imitation. And Golden Tate did his best 2008 Golden Tate imitation and didn't drop any balls.
Clausen is the fourth-ranked QB in the nation in passing efficiency, ahead of all the big names.
He earned his stripes and now must wait for Matt Barkley to come to South Bend to get his due.
He may have also saved Charlie Weis' job.
I'll give Weis credit for this much. He hinted before the Hawaii game that the QB job would be open this year.
Then Clausen turned Hawaii into lava but Weis may have kept Crist from transferring, and that paid off big time.
And Robbie Paris turned into Robin Weber (google Tom Clements, Alabama, and Sugar Bowl). ...(better yet YouTube it) ...
Notre Dame is 3-1, and deserves to be in the top 25. Penn State is 3-1 and will be lucky to face the Irish in a bowl game. And Daryll Clark's Heisman is sitting next to Jevan Snead's. The only big horse standing is Colt McCoy at Texas. (As an aside, if Urban Meyer gets to watch HBO's Real Sports' segment on concussions, Tim Tebow won't be back until the Alabama game).
This week, Weis gets to coach against Washington, a bunch of players recruited by Ty Willingham, instead of coaching a bunch of players recruited by Ty Willingham. Weis gets to coach against Steve Sarkisian, who has shredded the Irish the past three years as offensive coordinator at USC.
Buckle your seat belts, and buy your ticket to the Downtown Athletic Club in December.