Can Notre Dame football upset Clemson?

Notre Dame football is looking for revenge. The last time the Irish faced the Tigers was in 2018 at the Cotton Bowl. Notre Dame was having a terrific season, finishing 12-0 in the regular season and looking for a chance at the national championship. Clemson was also undefeated, looking to collect another title win after a victory in 2016.

What seemed like a close game quickly turned upside down, as Notre Dame could not keep up with the Tigers. Clemson walked away with a 30-3 win, quickly going on to become national champs a few weeks later. This year, the circumstances are different. Although Clemson is still considered the better team, the field will not look the same as it did two years ago.

Ian Book vs. D.J. Uiagalelei

Book’s competition at the Cotton Bowl was Trevor Lawrence, who is out due to COVID-19. D.J. Uiagalelei is taking over as starting QB and there are many speculations about how this matchup will turn out. Book has the edge on seniority, as Uiagalelei is a starting freshman. Uiagalelei brings a lot of talent, but it is not clear what his strengths are yet as Boston College was his first career start. What Clemson fans did see was promising, as he was calm despite the Tigers being down at halftime. As some see Uiagalelei’s young age as a benefit to the Irish, Book still has to play his top game to keep up with the Tigers.

Stop Travis Etienne

Although Clemson’s QB is new to the Irish, Travis Etienne is not. Etienne was a sophomore when he faced Notre Dame at the Cotton Bowl and he did not leave unknown. This year, Etienne has been one of the strongest forces for Clemson. That being said, the Irish defense is going to have to nail down Etienne’s routes. It is going to be a challenge, as Notre Dame has not faced a running back quite like Etienne in a while, but the potential is there. Being ranked No. 6 in the nation for total defense, the Irish can hold the Tigers back.

Take Advantage of Clemson’s Defensive Struggles

This past Saturday, the Tigers struggled defensively in the first half. There have been reports of several players who are still unsure if they will be able to play against Notre Dame, including defensive tackle Tyler Davis and linebacker James Skalski. If this is the case again on Saturday, the Irish should see it as an advantage to take control. Because Notre Dame’s offense has been on and off this season, this is a chance to prove otherwise.

A Toss Up

Originally, I did not see this game being close. Clemson has had a great year, truly dominating the game of football. But, with Lawrence’s diagnosis and Clemson’s injuries, the Irish have a chance. There is not a better time than now for Notre Dame to beat Clemson. It has been a tough year with challenging obstacles, and this win would give the Irish a sneak peek into the College Football Playoff. If you are a Notre Dame football fan, I hope you have your lucky socks ready to wear for Saturday.

Photo by Ann Curtis | The Observer

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