Key Matchups in Notre Dame’s Showdown with Top Ranked Clemson

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish face their toughest test of the 2020 regular season when the Clemson Tigers come to visit for a nighttime matchup. The two teams last met in the 2018 national semifinals, a game the Irish would be happy to forget. Things haven’t changed much for this contest with Clemson sporting a 7-0 record and Notre at 6-0 on the year.

For the second straight week, the Irish played a road contest and had limited competition, knocking off the George Tech Yellow Jackets, 31-13. Meanwhile, the Tigers got a cold slap in the face during the first half of their home clash against the Boston College Eagles before coming back for a 34-28 win. This game will again have a gaping absence for Clemson since Heisman favorite Trevor Lawrence will again be out after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Below are some of the key matchups to watch:

QB Ian Book vs. Clemson Defense

Book hasn’t taken too many chances this season, Having thrown just one interception. Still, he’s come dangerously close to a number of pickoffs, something he has to avoid against Clemson. He gives the Irish some mobility behind center and has a number of talented passing options that he needs to take advantage of in order for the Irish to win.

Regardless of whether it’s the run or pass game, Clemson’s defense ranks right up there with Notre Dame, with the Tigers allowing opponents just 2.7 yards per rushing carry. The eight touchdown passes they’ve allowed have been largely negated, with just one team having gained over 400 yards in a game this season. That was Virginia, who lost 41-23 on October 3.

Notre Dame Defense vs. QB D.J. Uiagalelei

Over the past three weeks, the Irish have only allowed an average of 211 yards per game and give up just 23 points. Maintaining that level of performance will be difficult against a team like Clemson, but the Irish are coming off a five-sack effort that included none stops behind the line and a pair of forced fumbles.

The Irish will have trouble trying to pronounce Uiagalelei’s name, but are more focused on limiting his production. Last Saturday, he completed 30 of 41 passes for 342 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for 25 yards on six carries and one score. Going on the road in prime time against a national championship contender will provide a much stiffer challenge for the freshman.

LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah vs. RB Travis Etienne

Owusu-Koramoah leads Notre Dame when it comes to tackles-for-loss with si on years and hopes to use his tremendous speed to stop Etienne or at least slow him down before he gets going. He’s got the versatility to also drop back on passing plays, but he and Drew White will need to zero in on Etienne for the entire game.

The best running back the Irish have faced in 2020 is having another solid season, rushing for 606 yards and nine touchdowns, while also collecting 29 receptions for two additional scores. On the running side, he’s averaging 5.9 yards-per-carry and already has two seasons of rushing for over 1,600 yards on his resume, thanks to his game-breaking speed.

DE Adetokunbo Ogundeji vs. LT Jackson Carman

As the edge rusher, Ogundeji zeros in on the opposing quarterback’s blindside, which could turn to be important when dealing with a freshman signal-caller facing a serious rush. Ogundeji’s numbers are modest with just 10 tackles on the year, but three of those were sacks, with constant pressure one way to deter an offense that’s averaging 46.1 points per game.

Protecting that blindside will be Carman, one of the chief reasons why Lawrence and Etienne had already racked up nearly 2,900 yards of combined offense before last week. Tiger quarterbacks have only been sacked 11 times in 281 pass attempts, with 21 touchdown passes and a rushing game that’s averaging 4.5 yards on every carry.

LT Liam Eichenberg vs. DE Myles Murphy

Eichenberg has been adept at keeping Book on his feet, though the Notre Dame line as a whole has allowed 11 sacks on the year, including two against Georgia Tech. He’s got the size and has been consistent enough to be a possible first-round pick in next year’s NFL draft and the Irish are hoping he comes p big in this game.

Murphy is a true freshman who’s more than lived up to the recruiting accolades he had when making his decision to come to Clemson. The Tigers have a boatload of players who have contributed to at least one sack this year, with Murphy at the top of the list with 3.5. He’s got size, speed, and figures to be a handful for Eichenberg.

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14 Comments

  1. “C-Dog,”

    I sometimes wonder if the guys here at UHND don’t invent these trolls themselves to stir the pot and get hits and posts. Maybe. Maybe not. But like you say, from “Anus Eagle” to “david” anti-ND trolls are allowed to come here too easily by the post-for-profit whores here at UHND.

    I think all of us here can discern the real fans, no matter how critical of the program, from the haters who just want to hate on ND to get their kicks.

    I will say that at least “david” makes football-related points and that often they are spot on, like it or not. That’s unlike “Burgy” who in almost a decade has yet to say anything that actually counts as an analysis. It’s clear he’s either Frank’s or someone else’s alter ego at UHND or just a troll that serves the purposes of the UHND whore mongers.

    This used to be a site with few bells and whistles and no advertising. Then someone decided to turn this “project of love” (their own words) into a European ice hockey rink with more advertising than ice visible.

    At least UHND got rid of the “likes”/”dislikes” tab that was a favorite of the trolls and internet cowards.

    GO IRISH!

    BEAT CLEMSON!

  2. Hey, UHND powers that be.

    We have a “David,” “david”, and now “dav” that all say the same thing and sound the same. It’s clear this is one and the same person. I don’t mind him being on here, but he should have just one name and stick with it.

    But this trolling on an ND site needs to stop. Do your jobs, Frank et al.!

    I might be critical of BK, Book, Reese, the ND administration, etc. but no one here would ever say I’m not an Irish fan. I doubt ND will win or maybe even be close, but I want to be proven dead wrong!

    I’m not sure that’s the case of “David,” “david,” “dav.”

    I just wish the trolls would man up and tell us who they cheer for if not for ND. Why hide your loyalties behind screennames?!

  3. BV is now the best DC since Bud Foster retired. If we stop Etiene we win. He is the second best player in the country.

    BGC 77 82

    1. “If we stop Etienne we win.”
      Disregarding all the other, superior, diverse weaponry of Clemson’s offense, file that with ‘If my aunt had balls, she’d be my uncle’.

    1. Two things…it’s pretty bush league to accuse Clemson of stealing signals. They are objectively a much better football team than ND and don’t have any motive to resort to that.

      Notwithstanding that…..the ND offensive playbook is hardly the most complex or diverse document. Clemson has more versions of the screen pass than ND has running plays. So this baseless accusation of “stealing signals” is a pathetic red herring by Kelly to hide the sad reality that ND runs a vanilla, woefully predictable offense.

      Kelly: Stop talking shi+ and do your job. For starters, learn how to manage a clock, don’t burn your timeouts on the first drive, don’t chase 2 points with 35 minutes left, learn how to give team pep talks that doesn’t put people to sleep.
      And give up this being a whiney bitch.

      1. Not bush league. It’s a known fact and acknowledged. Or did you read the article. They all do it. That article was pretty objective and factual. Sorry homer.

      2. Wow…let’s pick that post apart.
        1) “they all do it”. Ignoring the enormously irresponsible, wildly baseless accusation….
        So what’s the issue? That ND is not one of the “all” and uniquely does NOT do it?!? Or that they’re just less successful at it ? Boo hoo.
        2) If you think UHND articles are a source of unvarnished, unbiased, factual truth, I see your problem. And as I am neither a teacher nor a patient person, I will just say happy trails.

        PS – You might want to look the definition of a ‘homer’ and review their traits. Referring to me as one makes you look appear illiterate.

      3. david, ok I’ll be crsystal clear. You are a dumb jack ass. Did you read the SI article? It’s not even from UHND. And it’s an independent source.

        Yeah you are obviously a Clemson homer. You actually remind me of anus eagle from the old days, eh SteelFan?

        Read the freaking article and then just shut up. Or should I say, run Forest run.

      4. So you think Pat Forde is bush league? He wrote the article for Sports Illustrated.

        You do appear illiterate. And a Clemson homer. Or troll. How about just a dick?

      5. Couple more things…cuz you really need the help.

        This is UHND, not SI.

        Pat Forde is just another opinionated sports writer seeking eyeballs, like all the rest.

        As it’s safe to say you were not involved in your school debating team, I’ll suggest this: say things that don’t make you look sad, emotional, desperate, or very uneducated.
        Or say nothing.

        Lastly, do feel free to ignore my posts and my replies, if they upset you so. I don’t mind. .

    2. david,
      You really didn’t read the article. Kelly said very little on the subject. But other ACC coaches and staffers did comment in the article. And an ex Clemson staffer acknowledged that the sophistication of what they do and the money spent to do it is tops in the NCAA. Sorry to burst your Clemson loving bubble, but that’s how they do it on defense. So far it’s legal. But they do do it, and they all but acknowledge it themselves.
      Don’t be a Gump.

  4. If this game goes the way of too many big ND games lately, the Heisman trophy engraving dude might want to make sure he has extra vowel stencils for his toolkit.

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