Notre Dame has played one of the toughest schedules in the country, and that will continue at noon on Saturday as the Fighting Irish travel to Clemson to battle the Tigers. Clemson is in the midst of one of there worst seasons in a long time but will still present a considerable challenge for Notre Dame. The Irish cannot afford to lose any more games if they want to get to the College Football playoffs.
Cade Klubnik, Clemson’s second-year quarterback, made an impactful impression at the ACC Championship game (where Clemson defeated North Carolina) and Orange Bowl last season. Klubnik has connected with his receivers 64% of the time for 1947 yards this season. Additionally, he has thrown 13 touchdowns and five picks. Antonio Williams and Tyler Brown tend to receive most of Klubnik’s passes; however, over the last two games, tight end Jake Briningstool has come on strong as an outstanding target for Klubnik. Clemson has committed heavily to Will Shipley to help quarterback Daniel Klubnick find his footing. Shipley led Clemson in backfield offense with 515 yards. However, he left early due to concussion protocols against NC State and, as of Wednesday, has yet to practice; his availability for Saturday’s game remains day-to-day. Running back Jay Haynes returned to practice, however, after missing two weeks.
Clemson’s offense averages 417 yards per game, including 259 passing and 158 on the ground. They rank 13th nationally with 38.6 pass attempts per game which leads to 29-points-per-game average production.
Notre Dame’s offense is led by senior quarterback Sam Hartman. Before this season, he spent five seasons as the starter for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Hartman has amassed over 15,000 yards over his collegiate career with 128 touchdowns and 48 interceptions, setting most records at Wake Forest University. This season alone, he has already amassed 2126 yards with 18 touchdowns. Harman has gone seven of nine games without an interception this season. Harman spreads the ball around well amongst his receivers; thirteen different playmakers have scored touchdowns this year. His 65.4 completion rate is the best in his collegiate career. Notre Dame lost one of their primary receivers – Mitchell Evans – with a torn ACL last week; Evans is out for the season, potentially changing Notre Dame’s preference of employing two tight end sets more frequently and shifting emphasis onto wide receiver Chis Tyree, who would become their slot receiver instead.
Audric Estimine has been an integral component of Notre Dame’s offensive production this season, carrying the ball 146 times for 901 yards with 12 touchdowns on just 146 attempts – notching four 100-yard games along the way and three touchdowns against Pitt last week alone! His efforts mean he’s just 99 yards shy of reaching 1,000!
The Irish are the stronger team on both sides of the ball. Look for Sam Hartman to have a big day and the Irish defense to neutralize the Tigers’ offensive weapons. Notre Dame 27 Clemson 17.
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