Countdown to Kickoff: Tigers ‘can’t tiptoe through the lilies’ to beat Notre Dame

Countdown to Kickoff: Tigers ‘can’t tiptoe through the lilies’ to beat Notre Dame

Football

Countdown to Kickoff: Tigers ‘can’t tiptoe through the lilies’ to beat Notre Dame

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No. 1 Clemson at No. 4 Notre Dame

Dabo Swinney says Saturday’s game in South Bend, Ind., is one of those games where there is very little room for error.

Fourth-ranked Notre Dame will be the top-ranked Tigers’ toughest test to date, as the Irish bring in a strong running game to match a physical and dominating defense.

“This a very small margin for error type of game,” Swinney said. “I know we will have to play better for sure and cut out some of the mistakes that we have, especially, giving up some points to the other team.

“So, this is fun. It is a great matchup. Notre Dame is ranked No. 4 for a reason and incredibly well coached and disciplined and play extremely hard.”

Swinney said this Notre Dame team is built similar to what they were in 2018 when the two teams met in the Cotton Bowl. He said the Irish are extremely physical on both sides of the line of scrimmage.

Clemson gave up a blocked punt and a pick-six to Syracuse on Oct. 24, and last week Boston College returned a fumbled 97 yards for a score. Mistakes like those mistakes will get them beat at Notre Dame.

“You are not going to just tiptoe through the lilies and beat these guys. You have to make some plays,” Swinney said.

Game Information

Where: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind.

Records: Clemson 7-0, 6-0 ACC; Notre Dame 6-0, 5-0 ACC

When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

TV: NBC (Mike Tirico, Tony Dungy, Kathryn Tappen)

Radio: Clemson Tigers Network (Don Munson, Tim Bourret, Reggie Merriweather)

Satellite Radio: Sirius 84, XM 84, Internet 84

Latest Line: Clemson minus-5

Series History

  • OVERALL: Clemson leads series, 3-1
  • HOME: Series is tied, 1-1
  • ROAD: Clemson leads series, 1-0
  • NEUTRAL: Clemson leads series, 1-0
  • LAST MEETING: Dec. 29, 2018 (30-3, W)
  • STREAK: Clemson, Won 3

Three other story lines

Clemson will seek its highest-ranked road win in school history on Saturday when the No. 1 Tigers face No. 4 Notre Dame. A win can also give Clemson the inside track to clinching a spot in the ACC Championship Game, while also solidifying its No. 1 ranking.

Clemson, which won its lone trip to Notre Dame Stadium to date in 1979, is attempting to join Southern Cal (1931 and 1933), Michigan (1942 and 1978) and Missouri (1972 and 1978) as the only programs ever to win their first two games at Notre Dame Stadium. Of note, Michigan and Missouri won their second games at that venue in back-to-back games in 1978 against a Notre Dame squad led by Joe Montana, who was coming off the 1977 national championship.

Clemson, holders of the nation’s longest active home winning streak (27), is attempting to end the nation’s second-longest active home winning streak (Notre Dame, 22).

Notre Dame’s three players to watch

Ian Book, QB: Book has completed 129-consecutive passes without an interception, the longest current streak in the ACC and fifth-longest among all FBS QBs. Only one Power 5 quarterback has a longer streak (Arizona State’s Jayden Daniels, 157). Book is 26-3 (.897) as a starter, which ranks second nationally among all FBS quarterbacks (min. 20 wins), even as Book ranks 14th overall in total QB career starts (29). His 26 wins tie for fourth among all FBS quarterbacks.

Kyren Williams, RB: Williams has reached the 100-yard rushing mark in three of six total games this season, the third most individual 100-yard rushing performances in the ACC. Williams ranks fifth in the ACC in rushing yards per game, running for an average of 100.0 yards (600 yards so far this season). He ranks seventh in the ACC in all-purpose yards (130.0) per game.

Kyle Hamilton, S: Hamilton leads the team in tackles with 28, after only playing in five games thus far. In the win at Georgia Tech, Hamilton led the defense with six tackles, adding 2.0 TFL (-8 yards) and one PBU. Hamilton’s 2.0 TFL at Georgia Tech tied for the lead among all ACC defensive backs last weekend. On the weekend, only two ACC defensive backs posted 2.0 or more TFLs.

Prediction

This is going to look more like a playoff game than the matchup in 2018 was. The Irish like to run the ball and they do it as well as anyone. Clemson is beat up down the middle of its defense, where it will be missing defensive tackle Tyler Davis and linebackers James Skalski and Mike Jones. On the other side of the ball, look for Hamilton to matchup with Travis Etienne and try to limit the Tigers’ talented running back. As Swinney said, this is going to a tough game for Clemson. In the end, the Tigers’ depth at the skill positions take over the game and prove to be the difference due to the Irish’s lack of speed on the outside.

Score prediction: Clemson 24, Notre Dame 20

–Clemson and Notre Dame Athletic Communications departments contributed to this story

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