Location: Arlington, Texas | When: Dec. 29 (4 p.m.) | TV: ESPN | Line: Clemson -13
Clemson is used to being in this situation while Notre Dame is new to it. With that being said, the first thought has to be will the experience of playing seemingly every year give Clemson an advantage? it could, but we also have to remember that Clemson will be playing with a freshman Quarterback who has never been in a moment like this before and this game could hinge on how and if he can keep his composure.
Let’s take a look at the keys to this game.
Can Notre Dame contain the Clemson passing game?
Specifically, the Tigers talented receiver corps of Tee Higgins, Justyn Ross, Amari Rodgers and Hunter Renfrow, of course, who can do it all. The biggest problem here could be if the Irish concentrate too much on Clemson’s passing game led by Freshman Trevor Lawrence and then running back Travis Etienne can take the game over. This is the first time that the Tigers have had a dominant running back like Etienne going into the playoffs and he makes this Clemson offense really explosive and much more diverse than it has been the past few years.
Notre Dame vs. Clemson’s defensive front
With Dexter Lawrence suspended for this game the Irish get help on this key right away. Outside of that though, I think Quarterback Ian Book and his quick passing game could really neutralize the Clemson defensive line. Notre Dame also has a huge size advantage with a Wide Reciever corps that has three players over 6’4″. Clemson’s defensive backs are nowhere near that size. Ian Book is excellent at reading a defense and getting the ball out quickly and if he can do that here, Notre Dame will be able to put points on the board.
Let’s start off with this: if you get Notre Dame and 13 points you take those points! Notre Dame’s schedule has been picked apart but it’s not like Clemson’s has really been any better. Now my concern is can Notre Dame score in the 30s, which is what it will take to beat Clemson in this game. I think the diversity of Clemson’s offense will be the difference and I think Etienne will have the greatest impact in a very close game. Don’t be surprised if Notre Dame pulls the upset here, however.
Tigers 34 Irish 27
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