The Tigers and coach Dabo Swinney are looking to win a national title for the second time in three years. The Irish, led by coach Brian Kelly, are going for the program’s first national title since 1988. A win would bring one of these teams one one away from adding to their championship trophy case.
Clemson-Notre Dame: Cotton Bowl time, TV channel
Clemson and Notre Dame battle in a College Football Playoff semifinal at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, Dec. 29. The game is on ESPN.
Clemson-Notre Dame: Cotton Bowl prediction, preview
Clemson is back in the College Football Playoff, reaching the semifinals for the fourth consecutive year. Though Notre Dame played for a national title in the 2012 season, this marks the Irish’s first appearance in the CFP.
That history and the statistics suggest the Tigers will be huge favorites to win — and possibly set up another showdown with Alabama.
Notre Dame has wins over ranked Michigan and Syracuse, but four of its 12 wins were decided by a touchdown or less. It wouldn’t be too surprising if some of the questions remain from those lingering skeptics from 2012, when 12-0 Notre Dame lost to Alabama 42-14 in the BCS National Championship Game (a season that Notre Dame later had to vacate all the wins). But the Irish are 12-0 again — and are again big underdogs.
On paper, Clemson has to feel confident. The Tigers averaged almost 74 yards per game more than Notre Dame and allowed 54.8 fewer yards as well.
Ian Book has played well in key moments for the Irish, but Clemson freshman Trevor Lawrence has already emerged as one of the top quarterbacks in the country. RB Travis Etienne, at almost 1,500 rushing yards, also gives Clemson an edge.
But the biggest strength on Clemson is the defensive front. End Clelin Ferrell and tackle Christian Wilkins were both named to The Associated Press All-America first team this season.
Clemson-Notre Dame: Stats, how they compare
|13-0 (8-0 ACC Atlantic)||Record (Conference)||12-0 (Independent)|
|No. 2||CFP ranking||No. 3|
|45.4||Points per game||33.8|
|529.8||Yards per game||456.1|
|276.7||Yards allowed per game||331.5|
|183.8||Passing yards allowed||198.0|
|92.9||Rushing yards allowed||133.5|
2,606 yards (24 TDs, 4 INTs)
|Passing yards||Ian Book
2,468 yards (19 TDs, 6 INTs)
1,463 yards, 21 TDs
|Rushing yards||Dexter Williams
941 yards, 12 TDs
802 yards, 10 TDs
|Receiving yards||Miles Boykin
803 yards, 8 TDs
45 total tackles, 17 tfl, 10.5 sacks
|Defensive leader||Te’von Coney
107 total tackles, 9 tfl, 3.5 sacks
Clemson-Notre Dame: Score prediction
As the clear underdog, Notre Dame will embrace the doubters and the questions. But Clemson is Clemson. A showdown with Alabama seems to be inevitable going into the semifinals. A late touchdown by the Tigers will put the Irish away for good.
Clemson 31, Notre Dame 17