Notre Dame vs. Clemson Prediction, Game Preview

    Notre Dame vs. Clemson prediction and game preview. A battle of unbeatens take place in Clemson as the Fighting Irish take on the Tigers.

    September 28, 2015

    The Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-0) and the Clemson Tigers (3-0) meet for the first time since 1979, with a ton hanging in the balance for both programs. Check out the Notre Dame vs. Clemson prediction and game preview.

    Notre Dame vs. Clemson Game Preview

    Broadcast

    Date: Saturday, October 3

    Game Time: 8:00 ET

    Network: ABC


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    @Rich Cirminiello

    Why You Need To Care

    It’s been 36 years since Clemson and Notre Dame last met in football. The rare matchup will prove worth the wait Saturday night.

    For the sixth-ranked Irish and the No. 12 Tigers, Week 5 will offer both an enormous spotlight to prove they belong in the College Football Playoff discussion. Win and you’re on the short list of serious contenders as midseason approaches. Lose and you’re relegated to a distant longshot.

    Notre Dame is already 2-0 this year versus ACC opponents, having gotten past Virginia and Georgia Tech after QB Malik Zaire was lost for the season to a fractured ankle. But playing in Death Valley at night against the preseason ACC favorite will be toughest test to date for the Irish, and possibly the entire year.

    Just how good is this Clemson team? No one knows for certain, since the Tigers have beaten Wofford, Appalachian State and 1-3 Louisville in an overall lackluster effort two weeks ago. But hosting Notre Dame in primetime presents Dabo Swinney’s team with an opportunity to make a national statement. And affords the ACC a chance to earn its first big moment of 2015.

    Why Notre Dame Will Win

    The Irish will be better at the line of scrimmage.

    With all due respect to Notre Dame RB C.J. Prosise, who has been a fantastic fill-in for Tarean Folston, his blocking has been impeccable. Prosise is rarely getting touched at the line of scrimmage, because LT Ronnie Stanley, LG Quenton Nelson and C Nick Martin are blowing opponents off the ball. Plus, Stanley and RT Mike McGlinchey ought to neutralize Clemson’s best pass rushers, Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd, to make life a little easier on young QB DeShone Kizer. Meanwhile, the Tigers are just ordinary in the trenches, which should lead to a huge night for Notre Dame’s best pass rusher, Sheldon Day.

    Why Clemson Will Win

    At the most important position on the field, the Tigers will enjoy a significant advantage.

    Is Kizer, who was supposed to be a third-stringer before Everett Golson transferred and Zaire was injured, ready for a game and an atmosphere of this enormity? Clemson’s Deshaun Watson will be. The sophomore is one of the top young quarterbacks in the country, and poised beyond his years. Watson and his best weapons, specifically explosive WR Artavis Scott, will attack an Irish secondary that’s shown cracks this year. While CB KeiVarae Russell and LB Jaylon Smith are talented cover guys, Watson is capable of locating the seams in the ND defense.

    Player Who Matters

    There are a couple of key matchups that bear a close watch for their ability to tip the scales in either direction Saturday night.

    First, Notre Dame WR Will Fuller versus Clemson CB Mackensie Adams is a pivotal game-within-the-game that’ll draw plenty of attention from NFL scouts. Fuller is one of the country’s best receivers and the teammate Kizer must get involved with the passing game. But Adams is a bona fide lockdown corner, setting the stage for a dynamite matchup. If these stars cancel each other out, the other Tiger corner, Cordrea Tankersley, and second best Irish receiver, Chris Brown, will be thrust into the spotlight.

    Finally, Notre Dame’s knack for springing Prosise to the second level will put the onus on Clemson’s linebackers to wrap up in space. Prosise is a physical 220-pounder who runs with an attitude, so it’ll be incumbent upon Ben Boulware and B.J. Goodson to wrap up in space and prevent yards after contact. If Prosise is allowed to roll, the tenor of this game will change dramatically.

    What’s Going To Happen?

    Games of this magnitude are often won at the line of scrimmage. Advantage Irish.

    Clemson has the quarterback and the crowd, which are huge. But Notre Dame can quiet that crowd and harass that quarterback because of its superior collection of linemen. This is no doubt a rough spot for Kizer, which is why Prosise and the O-line will play such critical roles in the outcome. Plus, this is the week that the shaky Tiger offensive front gets exposed by inventive Irish coordinator Brian VanGorder. It’ll be close, but ND survives to remain unbeaten and in the playoff hunt.

    Notre Dame vs. Clemson Prediction

    Final Score: Notre Dame 30, Clemson 27, Line: PK, o/u: 54

    Must See Rating: 5: Steve Jobs – 1: Dr. Ken … 4.5

    MORE: College Football Bowl Projections After Week 4

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