Clemson and Notre Dame Fighting Battle in CFP Semifinals
The fans at AT&T Stadium will see the third-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the second-ranked Clemson Tigers Saturday afternoon. They will be playing in the 2018 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. The game is a College Football Playoff semifinal matchup. The winner earns a spot in the championship game. This is the first time two undefeated teams have played in the College Football Playoff.
Clemson will play in the College Football Playoff for the fourth consecutive season. The Tigers are 3-2 in the College Football Playoff over the past three years, including a national title in 2016. They suffered a 24-6 loss to Alabama in last year's semifinal. The Fighting Irish are making their first appearance in the four-team playoff, which was instituted in 2014.
Clemson's offense thrives on big plays. Notre Dame's defense is one of the nation's best at stopping them. Something has got to give. The Tigers rank in the top five in plays of 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 yards. They have 90 plays of 20 yards or more and 19 of 50 yards or more. The Fighting Irish rank in the top 10 defensively in all those categories. The unit has given up only nine plays of 60 yards or more, the fewest in the nation.
Two of the country's top running backs will be on display this afternoon. Clemson's Travis Etienne and Notre Dame's Dexter Williams are in the upper echelon in the nation. Etienne rushed for 1,434 yards, 21 touchdowns, and averages 8.31 yards per carry. He has topped 150 yards in six games this season. Williams was suspended for the first four games of the season. He has averaged 117.6 rushing yards in eight games. He has scored 12 of his 13 touchdowns on the ground.
This, That, and a Dart Throw
The Fighting Irish ended the regular season 12-0. They are in the ACC in every sport but football, but play 6 games against ACC opponents. Notre Dame had five games decided by eight points or fewer. They only played three ranked teams in the latest Top 25. Notre Dame's offense is not elite, but Williams provides a strong runner to complement quarterback Ian Book. Book passed for 2,468 yards, 19 touchdowns and six interceptions. He has thrown at least two touchdowns in all eight games since becoming the starter. The defense is led by a dominant line and has forced 20 takeaways.
Clemson is also undefeated. The Tigers might be the most well-rounded team in the country. They rank fifth in total offense, scoring offense, second in scoring defense, and sixth in total defense. Etienne and QB Trevor Lawrence have put up big numbers. Lawrence has 2,606 yards passing, 24 TD's and only four interceptions. The Tigers have 10 players who have caught a touchdown pass. Clemson's defense has been a wrecking crew. The squad has racked up 121 tackles for loss and 46 sacks. Defensive end Clelin Ferrell has 17 tackles for loss and10 1/2 sacks. He leads the way. The suspension of projected first round pick, Dexter Lawrence, shouldn't be an issue. Clemson is that deep.
PREDICTION: Clemson 34, Notre Dame 10
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic Trends
Clemson Tigers Trends
- Trend Under is 5-2 in Tigers last 7 bowl games as an underdog of 3.5-10.0. Hit % 71.40% (7) O/U 2|5 Push 0 W/L
- Under is 14-6 in Tigers last 20 games as a favorite of 0.5-3.0. 70.00% (20) 6|14
- Under is 6-2 in Tigers last 8 neutral site games as an underdog of 3.5-10.0. 75.00% (8) 2|6
- Under is 4-1 in Tigers last 5 neutral site games as a favorite of 10.5 or greater. 80.00% (5) 1|4
Notre Dame Fighting Irish Trends
- Trend Under is 10-1 in Fighting Irish last 11 games as an underdog of 10.5 or greater. Hit % 90.90% (11) O/U 1|10 Push 0 W/L
- Under is 8-2 in Fighting Irish last 10 neutral site games as a favorite. 80.00% (10) 2|8
- Over is 11-5 in Fighting Irish last 16 games as a favorite of 0.5-3.0. 68.80% (16) 6|14
- Under is 4-0 in Fighting Irish last 4 neutral site games as a favorite of 3.5-10.0. 100.00% (4) 0|4
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