Marcus Freeman leads the Irish into “Death Valley,” seeking the program’s second-ever victory at Memorial Stadium. The two teams are heading in opposite directions late in the season, and Notre Dame Football is in prime position to knock off the Tigers on the road. Can the Fighting Irish secure a victory in Dabo Swinney’s backyard? Find out this Saturday afternoon.
Essential Game Info:
- Game Time: Saturday, November 4th at 12:00 PM ET on ABC
- Location: Memorial Stadium, Clemson, South Carolina
- Matchup History: Notre Dame is 3-4 all-time against the Clemson Tigers (Last Meeting 2022: Irish won 35 to 14)
- Current Odds: Notre Dame -3.0
- Conference: ACC
- Head Coach: Dabo Swinney
- 2023 Record: 4-4 (2-4)
- 2022 Record: 11-3 (9-0)
The current GameDay forecast shows a 5% chance of rain, with a high of 70 degrees and a low of 43.
The Tigers have struggled since their loss to the Irish last fall. Dabo Swinney’s reluctance to pick up players in the transfer portal has shown to be destructive to the program. With both teams already out of the playoff picture, this weekend’s matchup is slated for a noon kickoff.
Regardless of the situation, Clemson still holds one of the best home records in the country over the last decade, and a road victory would be huge for Coach Freeman.
Cade Klubnik leads the Clemson Offense. This season, Klubnik is 188 for 294 (64%) with 13 passing touchdowns, 5 interceptions, and 16 sacks taken. On the ground, he has 78 attempts for 89 yards (1.1 yard per attempt) and 3 rushing scores.
The Clemson rushing attack is headlined by Will Shipley. The Tigers running back has 112 carries for 515 yards (4.6 yards per carry) with 3 rushing scores. Beaux Collins and Tyler Brown are the top wide receivers for Clemson. This year, Collins has 30 receptions for 408 yards with 2 receiving touchdowns, while Brown has 32 catches for 397 yards and 2 scores.
Notre Dame Storylines:
The Fighting Irish Defense has looked great the last two games. Even with Benjamin Morrison and Cam Hart injured Al Golden’s defense did not miss a beat against Pittsburgh. The Panthers went 1 for 11 on 3rd down, had five turnovers as a team, 53 rushing yards, and 202 passing yards (most of which was in junk time).
With the inconsistency from the Notre Dame Offense, the Irish Defense will be vital to a victory on the road this Saturday.
Can the Notre Dame Offense do enough to win Saturday? Last week, Sam Hartman went 18 for 25 with 288 passing yards, 0 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. While Audric Estime had 19 carries for 114 yards (6 yards per carry) and 3 touchdowns. I believe the offense can do enough to win this weekend, but they must hit a few deep passes to help out this run-heavy offense in 2023.
What receivers will finish the 2023 season strong? It was announced earlier this week that tight end Mitchell Evans is out for the season, which means other pass-catchers must step up in the final three games. Last week, Rico Flores Jr. had 2 receptions for 72 yards, Chris Tyree added 3 catches for 62 yards, and Tobias Merriweather had 2 catches for 50 yards.
Meanwhile, Jayden Thomas does not look like he will be back to 100% for the rest of the season.
Notre Dame Offense vs. Clemson Defense: The Fighting Irish Offense averages 430 yards per game, while the Tigers Defense allows 267 per matchup. Although Gerad Parker’s group has struggled since the beginning of the year, and they will be on the road, I still give them a slight advantage.
The vibe surrounding Clemson, coupled with a noon kickoff, will help the Irish Offense.
Advantage: Notre Dame
Clemson Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense: The Clemson Offense is averaging 416 yards per contest, while the Notre Dame Defense allows 280 yards per game. Al Golden’s group undoubtedly has the advantage in this matchup.
The Fighting Irish have dominated offenses a lot better than Clemson’s all season. If they play to their potential, it will be a long 60 minutes for the Tigers.
Advantage: Notre Dame
Special Teams: Spencer Shrader is 10 for 15, with his longest conversion at 54 yards. While Clemson’s Jonathan Weitz is 6 for 10, with his longest conversion at 41 yards.
Special teams typically favor the team with momentum and energy. Not only do I believe the Irish have both, but they also have multiple special teams touchdowns the past two games.
Advantage: Notre Dame
If there was a year to knock off the Tigers on the road, this is the one. Dabo Swinney’s program seems to be falling apart, and the fans are not too happy. While the Fighting Irish have momentum on and off the field.
My biggest concern is the Notre Dame Offense. If the Irish can establish a run, then it will be a successful game. However, if Clemson can shut down the run, then this could be an extremely close game. The Notre Dame receiving core did show signs of life last week, but Mitchell Evans season-ending injury hurts.
If Benjamin Morrison and Cam Hart can play the entire game, I believe Al Golden’s defense will shut down the Tigers. At the same time, the Irish Offense will slowly put points on the board and may be able to hit a home run or two from Chris Tyree and Tobias Merriweather.
I have Notre Dame winning by 14 points and will be making the 8-hour journey from Indianapolis to Clemson to cheer on my beloved Irish this Saturday afternoon.
Prediction: Notre Dame 31, Clemson 17