It seems just like yesterday that Jimmy and I sat down to do the pre-season prognostication. After a 12-0 regular season, the Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish are about to square off against the Clemson Tigers in the Cotton Bowl in Arlington Texas. #2 Clemson comes into the the Cotton Bowl with a 13-0 record after winning the ACC championship game against Pittsburgh.
#3 Notre Dame comes into the contest with 12-0 record. Notre Dame and Clemson have only two opponents in common this season. They both played Syracuse, FSU and Pitt. So there is only a small sample of comparison of how the teams actually match-up. Both teams are not even playing in the Cotton Bowl with their season starting Quarterbacks.
Jimmy’s Synopsis And Pick
Clemson didn’t have much of a challenge this season. The two toughest games they played were against Syracuse and Texas A&M. After the first two games, Clemson made a Quarterback change. Kelly Bryant played the first two games and then Trevor Lawrence took the helm for the remainder of the season.
Syracuse played a close game against Clemson. That game was Lawrence’s third game as the starting QB. They played an FSU that was not your typical tough competitor. Pitt was the opponent with the second best record in the ACC in the championship game and got blown.
Notre Dame played Pitt first. Pitt and ND played a very tight game at Notre Dame Stadium. Played FSU in a blow out in the stadium as well. And, Syracuse did not score until ten seconds left in the contest. Long story short, the games are a wash as far as who played better against the common opponent.
ESPN ranks teams on Offense, Defense and Special Teams and the overall percentage. Clemsn overall beats ND in most categories. What is doesn’t show is the types of teams that Clemson played. It can be said that the Tigers schedule padded these percentages.
Three Keys To Victory
- Both sides of the ball need to be mentally prepared. can’t have any big stage fright.
- Avoid catastrophic penalties.
- QB play will decide this game. Book needs to be the better QB.
Notre dame wins 30-27
George’s Synopsis and Pick
Back in 2015, Hurricane Joaquin wreaked havoc on ND. A storm that was not even supposed to happen played a major influence on the game. Passing the ball which was ND’s strength that year, was stymied by high winds and buckets of rain.
Today’s current team, is very different thank the team back then. These guys play for each other, the love of the game, and the love of Notre Dame football. They have bought into the process the coaches have set for this team. Talent wise, Dexter Williams, Jerry Tillery, Myles Boykin, Chris Finke, and Te’Von Coney. The talent on this team is just amazing.
Being indoors at AT&T Stadium will put both teams on an equal playing field, Death Valley itself has its own stresser on an opposing team. There is no comparison between then and now except for the experience that Clemson brings into the Cotton Bowl with previous CFP appearances. This is ND’s first appearance in the CFP format.
Three Keys To Victory
- Protect the football on offense. Offensive turnovers will not play well to ND offense. ND Defense needs to make turnovers happen.
- Offense needs to be efficient and smart. Need to protect Book and his blindside. Need to be true to who they are.
- Defense needs to avoid extending of a stalled Clemson drive. Major penalties will play into Clemson’s hand and points averted end up points scored.
Notre dame wins 35-24
Special Guest Tim O’Shea’s Keys To Victory and Pick
Three Keys To Victory
- In order for the offense to be on their game, the offensive lines needs to create the holes for Dexter Williams, Jafar Armastrong and Tony Jones Jr. If they don’t and it’s going to rely more on Book’s passing options, the necessary balance on offense will fail.
- The defensive line of ND needs to control the line of scrimmage and prevent Trevor Etienne from having a big day on the ground.
- Sweeney has been on the CFP stage in the recent past. The Cotton Bowl is Kelly’s first appearance in the CFP format. However, though Sweeney has been in this situation before, it doesn’t mean it will equate to a win. The past has nothing to do with the present. Kelly has shown he has changed his team coaching philosophy and the team is on-board with the process set in place. The 2012 squad does not compare to the 2018 squad in the fact that the team is mentally tough and no distractions.
Notre dame wins 21-16
The CFP game against Clemson is Saturday afternoon at 4PM EST on ESPN. Cheers and Go Irish! ☘🏈⚡