Notre Dame’s schedule was no tougher than Clemson’s
There is no questioning Clemson had an easy go of things this season.
The Tigers have won their 13 games by an average margin of 32 points per game, an ACC record. They have won by 20 or more points in 11 of their 13 victories, including wins of 61 points against Louisville, 60 against Wake Forest, 49 over Florida State, 34 over NC State and 32 over Pittsburgh in the ACC Championship Game.
On the other side of things, Clemson’s opponent in the 83rd Cotton Bowl Classic on Dec. 29 had things a little tougher and arguably has played better competition. Notre Dame has defeated its 12 opponents by an average margin of 17 points per game, including a 31-point win over Stanford, 22-point win at Virginia Tech, 22-point win vs. Navy, 29-point win vs. FSU and a 33-point win vs. Syracuse.
What does all of this mean? Nothing really. It just nice to point out.
With all the talk of how easy Clemson’s schedule has been, Notre Dame’s isn’t much different. According the Sagarin Rating the Tigers’ strength of schedule is 48, while the Irish’s is No. 43.
It has been said Notre Dame played in more big games this season, but when looking at both schedules, Clemson actually played in as many “big games” as Notre Dame and maybe even more depending on how you look at it.
“We have played in some big games already this year, so I think we are prepared,” Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence said on Tuesday. “We know how to win close games if we have to. We have some tests and I think we are ready.”
Lawrence is right. Clemson hung on to win by 2-points at Texas A&M in Week 2, and then rallied while he was injured on the bench to beat Syracuse. The Tigers trailed by 10 points in the fourth quarter before coming back and getting the win.
The Irish (12-0) have wins over ranked teams Michigan, Syracuse and Northwestern, while Clemson has ranked wins over Texas A&M and Syracuse.
Notre Dame also has wins over two teams that were ranked at the time they played them in Stanford and Virginia Tech. Clemson beat ranked NC State and Boston College teams at the time they played.
Both teams also have wins over their rivals, Southern Cal for the Irish and South Carolina for Clemson. Clemson also owns a win over Pittsburgh in the ACC Championship Game.
“We have a different mindset going into the game,” Clemson running back Travis Etienne said. “We know what to expect and we have the mental capacity to take it all in and not be overwhelmed by the moment.”