Clemson-Notre Dame Prediction
This is the game Clemson has been waiting for. It’s a chance to redeem themselves from the last time these two teams played. So, how is it going to play out?
It doesn’t need to be said that the Tigers were undermanned due to injury and Covid the last two times these two teams played. It’s a different story this time, but will the result be different. That’s the $64,000 question.
With several starters out and several injured in the process of the game, the Tigers struggled defensively. By the end of the game, Clemson’s defensive lineup looked like a patch work quilt; 3 or 4 starters and many 2nd teamers. Still, even with that, the Tigers had the ball and the lead with a little over 2 minutes left. As good as DJ Uiagalelei played that night, that last series did not go as well as Tiger fans had hoped for. This time, it at least starts out different.
LB’s James Skalski and Mike Jones, Jr., are back in the lineup. DT Tyler Davis is back in the lineup. Safety Lannden Zanders and cornerback Andrew Booth are back in the secondary. Xavier Thomas missed the 1st half of the game due to a targeting call in the previous game. Remember, ND led at the 23-13, helped by a Travis Etienne fumble into the arms of a ND player for a touchdown. Minus the last touchdown drive by the Irish, ND only scored a measly 3 points in the 2nd half. In all fairness, with Trevor Lawrence in the game, the Tigers may not have given the ball up at the end of the game and Clemson would have won 30-23. Ifs ands and buts.
ND QB Ian Book had a great first half and also was very productive in the overtime sessions. The tigers didn’t have an answer for him breaking out of the pocket. DC Brent Venables will have watched this tape, oh, I’d say, 10-20 times in the last couple of weeks. He is one of the best in the game at making adjustments.
Offensively, DJ threw for over 400 yards in the first game against ND, and while the stats look great on paper, one stat can not be dismissed. Clemson was 4-15 on 3rd down conversions. When the Tigers needed a 3rd down conversion, specifically at the end of the game, they couldn’t get it. DJ played a heckuva game, but he isn’t game manager Lawrence is right now. He doesn’t execute the RPO as well as TL does right now. I say right now because one QB has been there 3 years and the other is a true freshman playing against an undefeated Power 5 team. DJ’s time will come, he will get better at game management the more he plays, but in this game coming up, Lawrence will make the difference. Him, Skalski, Davis, Jones, Booth and Zanders will all make the difference.
This game is not played in South Bend. The Tigers are rested and ready to go. Frank Ladson is ready for the game and Travis Etienne is ready to explode. The spread right now is Notre Dame +10.5. Clemson being healthier than last time will make the difference. Trevor Lawrence has lost one game he has started in 3 years. He is 32-1 in his 33 starts. TL does not like to lose and it hurt standing on the sidelines the last time these two teams played.
Bottom line, Clemson wins this game. The key is keeping Book from converting 3rd downs on broken plays and for the tiger offense to get on track and control the game. Final score?
Clemson 34 ND 20