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Cotton Bowl Betting Preview: Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Clemson Tigers

AT&T Stadium will be the site for the first of two College Football Playoff Semifinal games on December 29. Number-two ranked Clemson will take on third-ranked Notre Dame in what should be a very intriguing game. The Clemson Tigers have been one of the most consistent programs in college football, while Notre Dame is making a return to prominence.

Clemson dominated all opponents during the regular season en route to a perfect 13-0 regular season. The Tigers blew out Pittsburgh, 42-10, to win the ACC Championship Game. Notre Dame finished the regular season with a 12-0 record but had several close calls along the way. Clemson is a 13 point favorite over Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl.

Clemson Defense Facing Huge Test

The Clemson defense has been dominant all season long, but will be without star defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence for this game. Lawrence and two other Clemson players are suspended after testing positive for a banned substance. The Tigers gave up just 13.7 points per game during the regular season, but losing a future NFL star up front could create some opportunities for the Notre Dame offense.

Freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence burst onto the scene this season and leads one of the most explosive offenses in the country. Lawrence threw for over 2,600 yards this season and has the look of a future star. Running back Travis Etienne is averaging 8.3 yards per carry this season and scored 21 rushing touchdowns. There might be more pressure on the Clemson offense in this game, but their playmakers will be up to the task.

Irish Have Balance on Offense

Notre Dame doesn’t have offensive stars, but they have solid players in both the passing and running game. Quarterback Ian Book is completing over 70 percent of his passes this season and has also picked up 250 yards on the ground. Senior running back Dexter Williams is averaging 6.6 yards per carry this season and will go over the 1,000 rushing yards mark with just 59 yards in this game. The Fighting Irish have enough pieces to challenge a terrific Clemson defense.

Linebacker Te’von Coney leads a Notre Dame Irish that is filled with players who will be playing on Sundays. Coney has racked up a team-high 107 tackles this season, and Notre Dame has recorded 31 sacks. Getting pressure on Lawrence will be a key for Brian Kelly’s team, but their defense has enough talent to slow down the Tigers. The Irish also have a weapon in the kicking game in place kicker Justin Yoon. Yoon has recorded 89 points this season, and is one of the best kickers in the country.

Clemson Rolls Over Notre Dame

The Fighting Irish have had a terrific season, but they have mostly feasted on a weak schedule. Notre Dame needed to come back in several of their wins this season, and they can’t afford to fall behind against Clemson. The Tigers are solid on both sides of the ball, and they know how to win big games. Look for Lawrence and the Clemson offense to carry the team to a blowout victory in the Cotton Bowl. Bet Clemson -13.0 over Notre Dame in this game.

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