Saturday night features a Top 5 matchup between the No. 1 Clemson Tigers (7-0, 6-0 ACC) and the No. 4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-0, 5-0 ACC) in an Atlantic Coast Conference battle. The two teams last met in the College Football Playoffs in 2018, with the Tigers routing the Irish 30-3.
The nationally televised contest kickoffs at 7:30 P.M. Eastern at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind. Clemson is a five-point favorite in the conference tilt, according to oddsmakers.
What to Know – Clemson Tigers
Clemson entered halftime last week trailing to Boston College, 28-13, at home. The Tigers rallied in the second half, holding BC scoreless and scoring 21 second-half points in a 34-28 final.
Clemson will again be without star quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who will not have cleared COVID protocol in time. With Lawrence sidelined, the Tigers welcomed the future of the offense last week with prized freshman D.J. Uiagaleiei making his first collegiate start. Uiagaleiei completed 30-of-41 passes for 342 yards and two touchdowns, with an additional 25 yards rushing and one score.
Senior running back Travis Etienne has scored a rushing touchdown in all but one contest this season while compiling 606 yards rushing. The multi-purpose back has also tacked on 434 receiving yards to surpass 1,000 total yards on offense.
Defensively, the Tigers are second in the conference behind Notre Dame in both total yards allowed (274.7) and points allowed (15.6).
What to Know – Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The Irish have enjoyed playing the ACC this season as they have rolled through the competition over the first half of the year. Notre Dame will play three of their final four games on the road following the battle with the Tigers.
Senior quarterback Ian Book hasn’t thrown an interception since the opening week, and completed 18-of-26 passes for 199 yards and one touchdown last weekend against Georgia Tech. In their 2018 matchup with Clemson, Book finished 17-for-34 for 160 yards and one interception to the eventual National Champions.
Kyren Williams found the endzone twice against the Yellow Jackets, pushing his rushing touchdown mark to seven this season. The sophomore has carried the ball 105 times for 600 yards on the year.
Notre Dame’s defense sits atop the conference allowing just 10.3 points and 267.2 points per game. The Irish have held three opponents to ten points or less this year.
The Pick is In
In the past, Clemson has mauled teams following a close call the week prior. We don’t expect a 30-40 point blowout this time, but it is interesting to note heading into Saturday night. The Irish, on the other hand, have done what they’ve needed to do to put their name squarely in the College Football Playoff picture.
Both teams feature suffocating defenses and solid rushing attacks, and this game should be much closer than their 2018 matchup. Expect Clemson’s defense to look more like it did last week in the second half and Uiagaleiei to have another solid performance.
The Pick: Clemson Tigers (-5)