Clemson and Notre Dame part two. It has taken forever to get here but this is exactly the kind of game the ACC envisioned when they started the conference championship game format.
However, if Notre Dame were to come in and win the league in their first and only year in the conference, and win it by knocking off Clemson, that just wouldn’t be good. That means Clemson has to win this game. Period.
The Tigers will have Trevor Lawrence for this game and as well as DJ Uiagalelei played in the double overtime loss, having Lawrence back is huge. There is nothing the Notre Dame defense can do that he has not seen before. Not to mention, his legs. There was no threat of the QB run in the first game but the Irish will have to account for Lawrence in Charlotte.
Lawrence’s ability to run the ball can open some other things up for the offense and it’s imperative that the Tigers be more efficient in this one. Averaging 1 YPC will not get it done and neither will going 4-15 on third down like they did in the first game. There has to be more efficiency on the offensive side and Lawrence is the key to making that happen.
This game will be won in the trenches, though. Clemson got dominated on the line of scrimmage in the first game, especially the offensive line. That can not happen again. They have to at least hold their own.
After having two weeks off, expect those guys to at least come in fresher. The last time these two teams met the Tigers had played six consecutive weeks. With very little depth along the offensive line this season that means those guys were playing a ton of snaps. Having fresh legs can only help.
Having said all that, if Clemson is going to win this game, it will be because of their defense. Notre Dame is the only team to score more than 30 points on the Tigers all season and if the Tigers are going to knock off the Irish, they have to play better on defense.
Having Tyler Davis, James Sklaski, and Mike Jones Jr back should ensure that indeed does happen. Davis is the anchor of the Clemson defensive front and is a key cog when it comes to run defense. Notre Dame averaged over 5 YPC in the first game without his presence up front.
The Clemson defensive front vs that Notre Dame offensive line will be one of the key battles. Ian Book can not be allowed to get comfortable in the pocket and he can not be allowed to consistently escape the pocket and pick up chunks of yards with his legs.
Book is a different kind of quarterback this season and that was on full display in the first game. Brent Venables has had two full weeks to come up with a scheme to ensure Book doesn’t beat them and when given that kind of time it is never smart to bet against BV.
Clemson is favored by more than ten points for a reason. The Tigers are used to playing on these stages, Notre Dame, not so much. The Irish will make some plays, they are to good to shut down, but Lawrence and the Tigers will make more. And Travis Eitenne will not be held in check this time around the way he was in South Bend.
Clemson 35 Notre Dame 21
Be sure to get in out ACC Championship Game contest! Guess the correct final score and win a brand new Clemson/South Carolina limited edition bobblehead from The Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum. Go to our Facebook page to enter!