#3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12-0) vs. #2 Clemson Tigers (13-0)
NCAA Football: Saturday, December 29th, 2018 at 4:00 pm (AT&T Stadium)
Line and Odds: Clemson Tigers -13 Over/Under: 55
Free NCAA Football Pick Clemson Tigers vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
#3 Notre Dame and #2 Clemson meet in the Cotton Bowl to decide who gets to play in the National Championship Game.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish finished the regular season undefeated with a 12-0 record. This is their first undefeated regular season since 2012 when they lost the national championship to Alabama. As a reward for their successful season, the College Football Playoff Committee ranked them 3rd in the nation. The Irish clinched their spot in the College Football Playoff with a 24-17 win over USC. It was far from a dominant win as they were down 10-7 at halftime to a USC team that finished 5-7. QB Ian Book went 22 for 39 with 352 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. RB Dexter Williams ran for 97 rushing yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. The Fighting Irish defense allowed USC QB J.T. Daniels to go 37/51 for 349 yards and 1 TD, but they managed to hold USC’s offense to 17 points. In fact, Notre Dame has held 8 of its 12 opponents to 17 points or less. Close games have been a staple of Notre Dame’s season. 6 of Notre Dame’s 12 wins have been by 10 points or less. The first 3 games of the season, when Brandon Wimbush (not Ian Book) was the starting quarterback, were decided by 7 points or less. Most analysts believe there has been a significant uptick in ND’s offense since Ian Book became the starter. Book has a 70.4% completion percentage, with 2,468 yards (8.8 yards per attempt), 19 TDs, and 6 INTs, in 8 starts. Notre Dame appears to be a relatively healthy team going into the Cotton Bowl. The Fighting Irish only have 4 players listed on the injury report, which is pretty good considering how late it is in the season. Notre Dame has a solid offense and a top-tier defense. They rank 34th in both scoring offense and yards gained per play. The Irish score 33.8 points per game and average 6.18 yards per play. They gain 456.1 yards per game, which ranks them 28th in total offense. Notre Dame also ranks 28th in 3rd down conversion percentage, converting 44.32% of their 3rd down attempts. They rank 10th in scoring defense, allowing 17.3 points per game. The Fighting Irish allow 4.53 yards per play, ranking 8th in the nation. Notre Dame is 10th in total defense, giving up 331.5 yards per game. The Fighting Irish have proven that they are well-balanced football team that can win in multiple ways.
The Clemson Tigers are looking to go to the National Championship Game for the 3rd time in 4 years. Clemson failed to make it to the title game last season, losing to Alabama 24-6 in the College Football Playoff Semifinal. The Tigers will have a different quarterback at the helm for the 2018 CFP Semifinal. Kelly Bryant, who started the season at QB for the Tigers, decided to leave the team after being benched by Dabo Swinney in favor of Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence took control of the starting job when he went 13/18 for 176 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 1 interception, coming off the bench against Georgia Tech on Sept. 22. After that performance, Coach Dabo Swinney decided to name Lawrence the starting QB. This season, Trevor Lawrence has gone 212/326, for 2,606 yards (8.0 yards per attempt), 24 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. This has arguably been the most dominant team in Clemson’s great four-year run. Only 2 teams have been able to stay within 20 points of Clemson this season. Texas A&M lost to Clemson 28-26 and Syracuse lost to Clemson 27-23. Clemson allowed just 4 opponents to score more than 16 points and only 3 teams were able to hold Clemson under 34 points. Aside from Alabama, Clemson has been the most dominant team of the 2018 season. The question has to be asked whether that is more about Clemson’s strength as a football team, or about the weak competition that Clemson has faced. The ACC offered little resistance against the Tigers and they won the ACC Championship Game 42-10 over Pittsburgh. The Tigers are elite offensively and defensively. They are 4th in the country in scoring offense, averaging 45.4 points per game. Clemson is also 4th in total offense, averaging 529.8 yards per game. They gain 7.37 yards per play, which ranks 3rd in the nation. Defensively, they are top 10 in almost every category. The Tigers rank 2nd in scoring defense, allowing 13.7 points per game. They allow 4.08 yards per play, which ranks #1 in the nation. Clemson is 4th in total defense, allowing 276.7 yards per game. The Tigers rank 7th in both 3rd down defense and red zone defense. Clemson’s defense may be missing star DT Dexter Lawrence because of a drug suspension. Lawrence is projected to be a top 10 pick in next year’s NFL draft, so this could be a huge loss if the suspension goes through.
Cover The Spread 365 Betting Trends
Notre Dame is 2-3-1 ATS in its last 6 games
Notre Dame is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
The total has gone OVER in 6 of Notre Dame’s last 9 games
Clemson is 6-2 ATS in its last 8 games
Clemson is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
Free NCAA Football Prediction Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Clemson Tigers
I’m predicting this game to go over 55 points. This is a case of two offenses who have improved since making quarterback changes. Both teams have explosive, high-powered offenses that can score a lot of points. Clemson’s defense excels by penetrating the offensive line and collapsing the pocket. They’re going to be hampered by the loss of Dexter Lawrence. It’s very important to make the opposing quarterback to feel inside pressure, and Dexter Lawrence helps accomplish that goal for the Clemson defense. As strong as Clemson’s defensive numbers are, I do not fully trust that secondary. South Carolina showed that you can make them look bad when the QB has time to throw. On the other side, Notre Dame’s defense hasn’t seen an offense like Clemson’s. They have massive amounts of talent and they can score in a variety of ways. They can pass for 400 yards or they can run for 300 yards. The diversity of the Tigers offense will cause problems for the Irish defense.