Top-ranked Clemson hasn’t lost a regular-season game since 2017, but the Tigers are putting that streak on the line this weekend as they travel to Notre Dame to take on the No. 4 Fighting Irish in a primetime showdown with both ACC Conference and national championship implications. Clemson enters the game as a six-point road favorite with the game total set at 52 points on SportsBetting.com
#1 Clemson Tigers at #4 Notre Dame
Date: Saturday, Nov. 7 – 7:30 PM ET
Odds: Clemson -6
The story of the game for the Tigers is that they will be without perhaps the top player in all of college football for this game as quarterback Trevor Lawrence will be sidelined after testing positive for COVID-19 last week. As talented as Lawrence is, however, the Clemson offense didn’t skip a beat under freshman quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei as he went 30-for-41 passing for 342 yards and two touchdowns in his first career start against Boston College. He was aided by Travis Etienne, perhaps the top running back in the country, who had 224 total yards and two touchdowns in the win.
The Clemson defense, however, looked shaky early in Saturday’s matchup, allowing Boston College to average 14.9 yards per play on its first two drives as the Eagles marched down the field for two touchdowns. Clemson allowed 21 offensive points in the first half contributing to a scare that saw them trailing by two scores at halftime, but the Tiger defense locked it down from that point, not allowing a single Boston College point in the second half.
Clemson’s struggles with Boston College last week came a week after the Tigers led by just six points late in the third quarter against Syracuse. Though Clemson is undeniably one of the most talented teams in the country on both sides of the ball, they’ve struggled to play a complete game at times and have allowed inferior opponents to stay in games well into the second half. That’s a concern going forward.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Though Notre Dame has the talent of a national title contender and enters Saturday’s game undefeated as the No. 4 team in the country, the Irish haven’t always looked the part this season. Three of Notre Dames five games against unranked conference opponents this year have been within two scores, including a lackluster 12-7 win over 2-4 Louisville.
Though Notre Dame’s offense is not as high-powered as some of the other national title contenders across the country, it does get the job done behind safe and steady play from quarterback Ian Book. The senior quarterback is averaging just 204 passing yards per game and has just seven touchdowns on the season, but he’s also only thrown one interception. On the ground, the Irish are led by sophomore running back Kyren Williams, who has 105 carries for 600 yards and seven touchdowns on the season.
While the Irish have struggled to dominate games offensively, that certainly has not been the case on the defensive side of the ball as Notre Dame ranks No. 4 in the country in scoring defense and No. 5 in total defense, allowing just 10.3 points and 267.2 yards per game.
In a big game, Notre Dame is going to lean on that stout defense to keep the game close and rely on mistake-free football from its offense to make just enough plays to win the game.
Though Clemson has not played its best football the past two weeks and enters this game without arguably the best player in the country, the Tigers are still the far more talented team in this matchup. Notre Dame’s defense is stout, but the Irish won’t be able to slow down this high-powered Clemson offense all game, and Notre Dame just won’t be able to score enough points on the other side to stay in the game. It might take them a few quarters to pull away, but the Tigers are going to roll in this game, even without Lawrence.
Pick: Clemson -4