The ACC Championship is just one day away. If you had told me at the beginning of 2020 the Fightin’ Irish would be in the ACC, let alone the ACC Championship, I would have not taken that bet. But here we are a day away from the ACC Championship and playing Clemson for a second time. The Fightin’ Irish have come a long way since the College Football Playoff in 2018. They also have been on an incredible journey this season. This team had no Spring ball, a late start to the preparation season and had to stop after the second game of the season against USF.
Ian Book also had big adjustments to make adjustments at the QB position. Having to get in sync with Ben Skowronek (WR), Michael Mayer (TE), Kyren Williams (RB), Chris Tyree (RB), and many others. The big question mark on the offense was the game against Louisville which was a defensive struggle. The Irish offense actually garnered 338 total offensive yards.
Two FG’s in the first quarter and a TD in the third quarter, was all the scoring that Louisville allowed. Louisville currently is the fifth best defense in the ACC, and allowed only 26.6 points per game. So Louisville did prove to be a formidable opponent at that time in the season. But in all honesty, the Fightin’ Irish defense actually finished number one in the regular season allowing only 17.1 points per game. The Louisville game was actually the shortest game of the season as well. The game was only 2:53 long.
Offensive Keys To The Game
Not discussed much in social media circles is the possibility of a triple threat on the Fightin Irish offense. The Running Backs have been successful in getting out of the backfield, and getting tremendous yards after contact, or as Kyren Williams has called them “bully yards” during this season. The Tight Ends have proven effective in blocking as well as catching the ball. Mayer has found a way to “hurdle” the competition. Ben Skowronek has become Book’s number one target in the Wide Receiver spot. Next would be a toss up between Javon McKinley and Avery Davis. The creation of a “Triple Threat” needs to have all positions performing at the top of their game. The opponents defense will always try to “double up” on someone. That leaves other players available as an option to be utilized. All of that is made possible by a stout offensive line and having utility players taking on additional roles in an effort to beat the opponent unselfishly. Williams, Tommy Tremble, and Mayer have done this repetitively throughout the course of the season.
The offense key to the game will be the need to establish the momentum in order to beat Clemson. The offense will need to continue their ball control in doing that, they will limit the amount of time that Trevor Lawrence is on the field. Most importantly, the Fightin’ Irish just need to be true to themselves. Trying to do more could actually be counter productive against the Clemson defense.
Defensive Keys To The Game
As previously stated, the Fightin’ Irish defense is ranked number one in the ACC this season. Limiting Time Of Possession (T.O.P.) has been there specialty. The Irish defense has limited the opponents ability to score in the fourth quarter also. The Fightin’ Irish defense has been the key to this teams overall success. Playing disciplined football and making teams one dimensional can boost confidence of any squad. Getting to the QB and getting in their head is documented in their twenty eight sacks.
The key to the defense will be winning the mental battle and playing disciplined. You cannot give Clemson extended drives as they will make the most of the opportunity. The defense needs to continue what it has been doing all season and that is being tenacious and stingy.
The Wrap Up
To cut to the chase, this team needs to be consistent with what it has done all season. They need to play smart, smack mouth Notre Dame football. They have been working towards this point since 2018 in the College Football Playoff. This is just yet another stop on the journey to the 2020 College Football Playoff. If they play disciplined football, they will come out victorious against Clemson.
I am going with a final score 35-31 with ND winning their inaugural ACC Championship.