Clemson Tigers vs Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11/5/22 – 7:30 pm EDT)
Line: Clemson -3.5
Clemson vs Notre Dame Overview
The Atlantic Coast Conference will take on one of the most successful independent schools this Saturday night when the Clemson Tigers head into Notre Dame Stadium to take on the Fighting Irish. The Tigers are coming off a 27-21 victory over Syracuse back in Week 9 while the Irish just took out the same Syracuse team last week 41-24.
While head coach Dabo Swinney’s 2022 Tigers team isn’t up to par with some of his dominant teams of the past they still come into this game undefeated at 8-0 and made it to the first FBS Final Four as they are ranked fourth in the country. Experts may not be impressed with Clemson’s close victories but without a loss through eight contests, it’s hard not to give Swinney’s squad some respect. Don’t forget that this is a team that’s still beaten three ranked opponents and is in first place in the ACC with a 6-0 record. The Tigers have split their eight games against the spread as well as versus the over/under (4-4).
One could look at Clemson’s last five games and see a team that isn’t dominating their opponents or blowing them out with the exception of their 31-3 win over Boston College. The thing about the Tigers is while they may not be winning with blowouts, they’re still finding ways to win no matter what kind of adversity they are facing. Take their last game against Syracuse when they went into halftime down 21-10 to one of the better defenses in college football. Whatever Swinney told them at halftime lit a fire under the team because they would go on to outscore the Orange 17-0 in the second half, coming back from 11 points down to win 27-21.
The Tigers are not a juggernaut on offense like the days when Trevor Lawrence was the quarterback but they’re not exactly an easy team to defend either. QB D.J. Uigalelei has thrown for 1,803 and 17 touchdowns although he played terribly against the Orange, prompting Swinney to bring in the backup in the third quarter for change of direction. That being said, Uiagalelei remains the starter and has played effectively enough to give his team an 8-0 record. Running back Jordan Shipley had a fantastic day against Syracuse, rushing 27 times for 172 yards and two TDs to give him 739 yards and 10 TDs on the season.
Notre Dame Analysis
If any teams should be criticized in terms of this season’s expectations, Notre Dame is far more suspect than Clemson has been as the Fighting Irish were ranked fifth overall in the AP Preseason Top 25. To give perspective on just how awful of a prediction that ranking was, Notre Dame comes into this matchup unranked at 5-3 after a surprisingly bad start to the season by losing the first two games. The Irish find themselves in second place in the FBS Independent standings behind 7-1 Liberty. Against the spread, Notre Dame has gone 4-4 while they are 3-5 versus the over/under.
On the bright side, the Irish have done a great job of turning around their season after that 0-2 start by winning five of their last six games including an impressive double-digit defeat over 20th-ranked Syracuse last Saturday. Notre Dame has gone 2-1 against ranked opponents this season with their other victory coming over BYU (who have fallen out of the rankings) and their lone defeat being a season-opening 21-10 loss to second-ranked Ohio State. The Irish have had a lot of success on the ground, especially in the last five weeks, averaging 228 yards per contest. Overall, Notre Dame has the 39th-best rushing attack in college football.
The Irish are going to run and run and run on Clemson until their legs give out because they don’t have a whole lot of success through the air with the offense only throwing for 196.4 yards a game, which is 106th overall. They have a solid running back in Audric Estime who has rushed for 558 yards on 99 carries for a 5.6 per-carry average to go with eight TDs. On the receiving corps, tight end Michael Mayer leads all Irish receivers with 580 yards receiving on 47 receptions to go with six TDs. Notre Dame’s defense could give Clemson’s offense a bit of a hard time as they only allow 333.5 yards of total offense a game, 27th-best in the country.
Free Pick – Clemson -3.5
Yes, Clemson looked pedestrian and overrated in their too-close-for-comfort win against Syracuse, however, they’re still one of the best-coached teams in the nation behind Swinney who rarely has his guys play two disappointing games in a row. Besides, with Notre Dame playing well lately, the Tigers will be prepared and ready to go toe to toe with them this Saturday. As good as the Irish have been over their last few games, they rely heavily on the run, a part of the game that Clemson’s defense thrives in stopping. The Irish are going to have a hard time getting their run game going this Saturday and that favors Clemson who will do plenty on offense to cover the spread. We like Clemson -3.5.