It all comes down to this. The ACC championship is up for grabs Saturday afternoon as the No. 3 Clemson Tigers (9-1) will do battle with the No. 2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-0). This game will be held at Bank of America Stadium, and the kickoff is scheduled for 4:00 pm ET.
These two teams squared off just over a month ago, with Notre Dame walking away with a 47-40 overtime win. It is worth noting that superstar quarterback Trevor Lawrence did not play for the Tigers due to COVID-19 concerns, but the Irish were able to win the game nonetheless. The rematch of top teams will take place Saturday.
Since the loss, Clemson has beaten Pittsburgh 52-17 and Virginia Tech 45-10. Lawrence played in both of these matchups and will be under center against the Irish on Saturday.
Notre Dame has won three games since their matchup with Clemson. With wins over Boston College (45-31), No. 15 UNC (31-17), and Syracuse (45-21), the Fighting Irish feel confident they can take out Clemson again. Still, they will have their hands full against a Trevor Lawrence-led Clemson offense.
Despite losing the first time these two played, the Clemson Tigers are the favorites in this one. They are -400 to win while Notre Dame’s money line sits at +300. The spread features the Fighting Irish +10.5 while the over/under for total points is 59.5.
By The Numbers
Offensively, Clemson has been one of the top five teams in the nation. They are currently 5th overall as they are averaging 45.7 points per game. The Fighting Irish rank 16th in the nation averaging 37.7 points per game.
Defensively, it is Notre Dame who holds the advantage. They are allowing just 17.1 points per game to opponents, while Clemson is allowing 20.3.
Clemson Looks For Revenge
Notre Dame gave Clemson their only blemish on the record earlier this season, and now the Tigers are ready to repay the favor. With the likely top pick in next year’s draft back under center, Clemson will be in a good position to win their sixth ACC title in a row.
On the season, Lawrence has thrown for 2,431 yards, 20 touchdowns, and just 3 interceptions. He has also rushed for 121 yards and another 6 scores. While he is still trying to get back to form after returning from a bout with COVID-19, he is still a dominant force when right.
His leading receivers this season have been Amari Rodgers (845 yards, 6 touchdowns) and Cornell Powell (684 yards, 5 touchdowns). Running back Travis Etienne has also gotten into the action with 512 yards and 2 touchdowns.
On the ground, Etienne has rushed for 758 yards and 12 touchdowns. Still, he struggled in the first matchup, only rushing for 28 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. He will need to be better for Clemson to get the win.
Notre Dame Looks To Stay Undefeated, Win ACC
Notre Dame is just as motivated as Clemson for the game Saturday. Not only do they want to win the ACC, but they want to prove that their win over Clemson was no fluke.
Leading the way for Notre Dame is quarterback Ian Book. He has thrown for 2,382 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. He has also rushed for 465 yards and 8 touchdowns.
On the ground, Kyren Williams leads the way. He has rushed for 1,011 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. In their first matchup, he went for 140 yards and 3 touchdowns. If he can keep this success up, Clemson could be in trouble.
Defensively, the Fighting Irish are led by Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (48 tackles), Adetokunbo Ogundeji (5.5 sacks), and several players with one interception apiece.
Clemson Gets Revenge, But Can’t Cover Spread
With Trevor Lawrence under center, I do think that Clemson will avenge their earlier loss when it matters most, the conference championship. The real question is the spread, though.
Granted, Lawrence didn’t play in the first game, but it is not like his replacement did poorly. DJ Uiagalelei threw for 439 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. He also rushed for a touchdown.
While it might not go into overtime, it will likely be relatively close down to the wire. While Clemson will come out on top, I think that Notre Dame covers the 10.5 point spread.