The rematch is upon us as #2 Notre Dame faces off against #3 Clemson in the ACC Championship game. The game is at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.
If Notre Dame wins, they will have their first conference crown in program history and a locked-in, set-in-stone spot in the college football playoff. The only question at that point is if they deserve to be the #1 team in the country for beating Clemson twice. If Clemson wins, things get more complicated, with both teams sitting at 10-1.
Both the Irish and the Tigers are coming off a bye week, which some including SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey viewed as controversial, especially after then #5 Florida’s loss to unranked LSU last weekend. However, neither team played to keep them fresh for this game.
Two weeks ago, the Fighting Irish beat the Syracuse Orange 45-21, thanks to 111 yards and 3 touchdowns from wide receiver Javon McKinley. The Tigers beat the Virginia Tech Hokies 45-10 thanks to Trevor Lawrence throwing for 195 yards and 1 touchdown and 1 interception.
Key for Notre Dame to win: Continue to stop the run
Notre Dame has one of the best run defenses in the country. In the first game vs Clemson, Tigers running back Travis Etienne had 28 yards and a touchdown. This season, the Fighting Irish are only allowing 99.7 yards per game on the ground this season. If Notre Dame wants to sweep the Tigers, they have to stuff Etienne as well.
Keys for Clemson to win: Convert on 3rd down
The Tigers average 46% on third down this season. In the game against South Bend, Trevor Lawrence who does well at extending plays, especially in short-yardage was out with COVID. As a result, in that game, Clemson only converted 4 third downs on 15 opportunities. If they want to get revenge, they have to convert at a higher clip in this game.
Prediction: 37-34, Notre Dame wins