One thing Dabo Swinney will never do is admit his team is looking past an opponent. One of Clemson’s motto is, “The next game is always the biggest game of the year.”
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly does not feel the same way as the Tigers’ head coach. Following his team’s 45-3 win at Pittsburgh on Saturday, Kelly admitted to the media the fourth-ranked Irish are looking ahead to their Nov. 7 showdown against No. 1 Clemson in South Bend.
“Most coaches don’t ever admit that and say we are taking it day-by-day and the focus was on Pitt. But Notre Dame was peaking ahead two weeks to who they are playing at home on November 7, Clemson,” ESPN reporter Andrea Adelson said Monday on the ACCN’s Packer & Durham Show. “And if they want to measure up against the No. 1 team in the country, and if they want to have any shot of making the playoff and potentially playing for a national championship, they have to be better than Clemson.”
While Notre Dame (5-0, 4-0 ACC) was looking ahead and whipping Pitt, Clemson was in a dog fight with Syracuse. Though the Tigers did not say they were looking past an Orange team that lost by 17 points at home the week before to Liberty, they sure did play like it.
Clemson (6-0, 5-0 ACC) led by just six points with a little more than a minute to play in the third quarter when Andrew Booth picked up a Syracuse fumble and ran it into the end zone to start what was 20 unanswered points to end the game.
The Irish, however, did not have any issues with the Panthers.
“For the first couple of weeks we have all been scratching our heads about Notre Dame. They obviously didn’t play opponents that were on the same level as them. Maybe they played down,” Adelson said. “They obviously needed to integrate an entire new receiving corps, freshman at running back, that secondary, besides Kyle Hamilton, which has some huge question marks, and now they got to the point where we have seen the growth in the key areas that we needed to see it. And that growth had to happen for them to be able to be at least on the same level as where Clemson is.”
Granted, the Irish beat a Pittsburgh team who has now lost four straight games and is struggling on offense and defense, but they still went on the road and took care of business and did it in impressive fashion.
“I appreciated Brian Kelly coming out and saying that because their season potentially could all come down to what happens against Clemson on November 7. Now, obviously, no matter what happens in that game, there is a potential for a rematch in the ACC Championship Game,” Adelson said. “But I think all of us are eager to see how Notre Dame is going to stack up and match up against where Clemson is because right now they look like they are one of the better teams in the country.
“But Pitt is struggling and so, we are not really going to know until what happens when they play against Clemson.”
Notre Dame will play at Georgia Tech this Saturday, while Clemson will host Boston College.
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