- Clemson and Notre Dame play in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte, NC on Saturday (ABC, 4:00 p.m. EST)
- Notre Dame won their last meeting in double overtime against Clemson, who was without star quarterback Trevor Lawrence
- Read below for complete analysis, odds and a pick on the game
Clemson and Notre Dame already gave the 2020 College Football season one of its most thrilling games, and on Saturday, the meet again to play for the ACC conference championship.
Of course, there is one very significant difference this time around: Trevor Lawrence is back at quarterback for the Tigers.
In five consecutive ACC Championship game appearances since 2015, Clemson is 5-0 overall and 4-1 against the spread. The Tigers are currently 10.5-point favorites in this one, and their games have gone over the point total in three of those previous five appearances. In three total games played since 2015, Clemson is 2-1 against the Irish, but just 1-2 ATS.
Clemson vs Notre Dame ACC Championship Odds
|Clemson||-10.5 (-106)||-420||O 60.5 (-108)|
|Notre Dame||+10.5 (-114)||+310||U 60.5 (-112)|
Odds taken from FanDuel on Dec. 16th
Lessons Learned Last Time Out
Tigers freshman quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei took the snaps in the last matchup between the two, but played pretty well, overall. Clemson’s ineffectiveness in the running game and back-to-back first half fumbles that resulted in Notre Dame getting 10 easy points in the first quarter made things difficult from the start.
Tigers running back Travis Etienne is a talented player, but he had a poor game against the Irish, who were particularly strong at keeping Clemson from finding room off the edge on the ground. Dabo Swinney’s rush defense is typically stronger than what it showed against Notre Dame, as the Irish essentially doubled the average totals allowed by Clemson’s front seven this season.
Truthfully, it seemed as though Notre Dame caught Clemson’s defense in an unexpected flat spot overall, which is almost sure to not be the case this time out.
Each side has had extra time to prepare for this rematch, and both head coaches have been traditionally strong following bye weeks. However, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly is just 2-5 ATS in his last seven games after a week off since 2014.
College football fans might not get the encore filled with fireworks that they’re hoping for after what they got in the first game between these two. Both teams are in the top four teams in the current College Football Playoff rankings, and should Clemson win, it’s conceivable that they could play a third time before things are all over with.
NOTRE DAME SET THE TONE?
Kyren Williams 65-yard TD
— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 8, 2020
Neither team should be expected to plan with a potential next game between them in mind. However, at a neutral site against a familiar opponent, the game just shouldn’t be as wide-open as the last time they played. The playbook is bigger for the more experienced Lawrence, but controlling possession should be focus for Clemson, considering what is at stake and the Irish’s commitment to running the ball.
Notre Dame expects starting guard Tommy Kraemer to be back after an emergency appendectomy, but will be without Jarrett Patterson, who started at center in their last matchup with Clemson. Patterson injured his foot against Boston College and was ruled out for the rest of the season. Josh Lugg is a capable replacement, but is a far better run blocker than pass blocker.
Which Way to Go
Clemson’s defense is going to come out a very motivated side in a situation that is much closer to a home game for them than Notre Dame. Lawrence could come out and go bonkers after a lackluster showing in his last game, where he only completed 57-percent of his passes for fewer than 200 yards against Virginia Tech.
Most of the bets and money has been placed on the over, however, the total has come down a point from 61 to 60 on most books. Of the 87 points scored in their last meeting, 21 came in overtime and one touchdown came from Notre Dame jumping a pitch-out in the backfield for a defensive score. In a game where both teams are going to be focused on playing mistake-free football, that scoreline isn’t likely to repeat itself.
Beating the same team twice in a season is never easy, especially when that team is a perennial national championship contender. The Irish aren’t built to chase, and the Tigers have a lot more on the line in this one. The under is interesting as things seem to favor a one-sided Clemson win, but even at a higher number, laying the points with Clemson still seems like the right move.
The Pick: Clemson -10.5 (-106)