Oddsmakers aren’t giving (3) Notre Dame much of a chance in the 2018 Cotton Bowl free pick as (2) Clemson is listed at -11 favorites. Can the Tigers hang 40+ on the Irish defense however as the O/U of 57.5 seems a bit on the high side. The Clemson defense is no slouch either and although the ND offense has put up good numbers, they haven’t seen talent like Dabo Sweeney is going to roll out today. Shootout or defensive battle – that is the question in Saturday’s college football playoff game.
Does ND’s Quick Passing Game Put Points on the Board?
The Irish aren’t as big of a mismatch as people would like to portray, mainly because the strength of their offense is quick passing routes. QB Ian Book has completed 70% or better of his passes in 5 of 8 starts this season. His accuracy has faded a bit in the last three including a season worst 22/39 vs. USC last time out. The Clemson defense has four All-ACC performers up front and the ability to get rid of the ball quickly should keep Notre Dame’s offense moving. That could also set up the deep ball as the Irish have three top receivers that are 6’4″ or taller. Basically the Irish should be able to score in the 2018 Cotton Bowl free pick – through the air at least.
Both Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Notre Dame’s Ian Book seem to have the “it” factor. https://t.co/okj3Nl7eyC
— Orange and White (@orangeandwhite) December 29, 2018
The biggest mismatch of the day is going to be Notre Dame’s defense trying to stop the Clemson offense. The Tigers may start a true freshman in a huge spot, but he’s been awesome this year (more on that in a bit). Clemson has a top 10 rushing attack as well. Then again the Irish have allowed 20+ points in 4 of 12 games this year with a high of 27 at Wake Forest. Over the last 2/3 of the regular season the Tigers average margin of victory was over 38 points.
Is Clemson Just Too Good All Around?
At this point a Tigers / Alabama national championship seems inevitable. Clemson should legitimately be able to do whatever they want Saturday afternoon despite Notre Dame having a solid D. Trevor Lawrence is the freshman QB that mans the ship and he’s thrown 24 TD to just 4 picks this season. Lawrence has a great group of receivers to throw to led by Tee Higgins (802, 10TD) and Justyn Ross (699, 6). Then of course there’s stud RB Travis Etienne who has ran for over 1400 yards and 21 TD. Etienne has 6 TD the last 3 games and ND gives up about 133 ypg on the ground.
The Clemson defense will be without Dexter Lawrence in the 2018 Cotton Bowl free pick because of a failed drug test which is good news for Notre Dame as he’s a projected 1st round draft pick. Irish Sr. RB Dexter Williams had a 202 yard outing three games ago against FSU and has 8 TD the last 5 contests. During the regular season Clemson was top 3 vs. the rush, top 5 vs. total yards and 18th vs. the pass. If Notre Dame can get any offense going this contest should be a solid ‘over’ play.
2018 Cotton Bowl Free Pick
The first half of this game may be kind of low scoring as the two teams battle nerves and feel each other out. The second half at least should be a shootout however. If Clemson gets rolling through the ground and via the air it’s not a stretch to see a 45-point output today – especially as they want to put as much on film for Alabama as possible. The Tigers have a great D, but Brian Kelly has had 5 weeks to game plan and his offense will be able to move the ball…eventually.
2018 Cotton Bowl Free Pick: *Over* 57.5