Has Notre Dame closed the gap on Tigers?

Has Notre Dame closed the gap on Tigers?

Football

Has Notre Dame closed the gap on Tigers?

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Or are injuries giving the Irish a better opportunity to knock off Clemson this Saturday

When No. 1 Clemson visits fourth-ranked Notre Dame on Saturday in South Bend, Ind., it will be without quarterback Trevor Lawrence and middle linebacker James Skalski. There is also a very good possibility the Tigers could be without strongside linebacker Mike Jones and All-ACC candidate Tyler Davis at defensive tackle.

Yet, despite the fact Clemson could potentially be down four starters heading into Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. kick on NBC, most experts feel the Tigers can still go into Notre Dame Stadium and get a win.

“This is the number one team in the country that does not have any panic to them and does not feel like anything has changed with Trevor Lawrence on the sideline,” ESPN.com writer Andrea Adelson said on the Packer & Durham Show Wednesday.

The question Adelson and a lot of others around the country want to know is how does Notre Dame respond in a big game against a big-time opponent? The last time they played the Tigers was in the 2019 College Football Playoff and Clemson ran away with the game, 30-3.

“My question for Notre Dame, and I know Trevor is out, but the gap between these two teams was so stark the last time these two teams played back in the playoff a couple of years ago, has Notre Dame closed that gap anymore? And if they have, does that mean because the gap has been closed, when you take Trevor Lawrence out of the mix, do they have a chance to win this game,” Adelson asked.

Since Lou Holtz left Notre Dame at the end of the 1996 season, the Fighting Irish are 8-28 against top 10 teams. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly says his team has nothing to prove to anyone.

“We’re 29-3 over the last 32 games,” he said. “We’re not a team that’s easily overcome with the moment. We’ll be just fine. We’ve got to execute and certainly the last time we played, we played poorly.

“We’ve won 12 in a row. You’ve got to execute, you’ve got to play well in the moment, but this team has exhibited they’re not a team that’s going to back away from a challenge. When they’re down, they’ll certainly pick up their pace and answer any challenges that are in front of them. I have no question about that.”

Notre Dame (6-0, 5-0 ACC) has won 22 straight games at home and currently owns the nation’s longest win streak (12). However, its last home loss came against a top 10 Georgia team that went on to play for the national championship in 2017.

Their last loss came against a No. 18 Michigan team last season. The Irish was 0-2 last year against ranked Power Five opponents.

“We’re 29-3 in our last 32 games. I don’t know. We’ve won 22 consecutive games at home, we’ve won 12 in a row. I don’t know, you guys decide,” Kelly said.

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