Notre Dame – Clemson Game Day Storylines: Playoffs Edition

The long wait for playoff football is almost over!  After a month of no Fighting Irish football to watch, Notre Dame is back in action today in the Cotton Bowl against Clemson in the College Football Playoffs.  To get you ready for kickoff we summed up the big storylines heading into today’s showdown.

Notre Dame is Around a 12 Point Underdog

The Irish have been a healthy double digit underdog since the odds opened on December 2nd and the line hasn’t moved a whole lot.  ESPN reported on Friday that the vast majority of the money that has been wagered on this game has been on Notre Dame which is a little interesting and worrisome.  Vegas is really good at making money so the fact that most of  the money has been placed on the Irish and the line hasn’t moved a whole lot could suggest that Vegas is pretty confident in the Tigers covering.

Depending on what service you look at right now, the Irish are between an 11.5 and 12.5 point dog at the moment.  The media is not giving the Irish much of a chance in this one either.  Hopefully Notre Dame used the underdog/disrespected card all throughout their bowl prep and are ready to prove everyone wrong.

Clemson star DT Dexter Lawrence is OUT for failed drug test

Clemson will be without three players today after they failed NCAA drug tests for having the same banned substance in their systems, but only one really matters and that is star DT Dexter Lawrence.  Lawrence is a projected 1st round NFL draft pick and All-ACC defensive tackle.  His presence will definitely be sorely missed by Clemson even though they can plug in another talented defensive lineman because it will mess up their normal DL rotations and take one more talented lineman off the field.

Ostarine is the substance that was presence in Lawrence’s drug test.  For those unfamiliar, it is currently on the banned substance list and has no approved uses by the FDA so it is not as simple as Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has been trying to make it seem to have in your system.

It is interesting that a bigger story has not been made of this since allegedly only 12 Clemson players were randomly tested and three of them failed the test for the same exact substance with both their A and B samples.

Lord Myron should return to action for Notre Dame

While Clemson is losing a defensive tackle, Notre Dame is getting one back most likely.  Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa broke his foot in week one against Michigan and has not played since.  The reserve DT should play today for the first time since then.  How much he plays and how effective he is after all that time off remains to be seen, but the Irish can get a good 15-20 snaps out of him today that will be a nice boost for the defensive line.

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Jayson Ademilola and Micah Dew-Treadway have held their own backing up Jerry Tillery, but a lot was expected of Lord Myron this year in his reserve role.  Having him on the field today is a plus.  As an added bonus, because he has only played in one game this year, he can play today – and potentially next week if the Irish win – and still retain a year of eligibility with the new redshirt rules in college football.

Notre Dame should have a few other players who got healthy

On top of getting back Tagovailoa-Amosa, Notre Dame has had a few players who had some nagging injuries who should be fresh off of a month long rest.

  • Ian Book – He just seemed off the final two games after coming back from the rib injury
  • Jafar Armstrong – Missed multiple weeks with an infection in his knee and was just never the same after coming back.  He can be a real weapon for Notre Dame today if he’s back at full strength
  • Cole Kmet – Suffered a severely sprained ankle early in the season and was never the same.  Look for him to potentially help open up the middle of the field today.
  • Khalid Kareem – The SDE was nicked up all throughout the season but played through the bumps and bruises without missing any games.  A fresh Kareem was an absolute nightmare for Michigan week one.  Hopefully we get that Kareem out there today.
  • Drue Tranquill – Played through an ankle injury that looked so much worse than it turned out to be against Navy.  He also played most of the year with a broken hand.  Both injuries should be well in the rearview for him today.

Notre Dame might work in some new faces at wide receiver

Brian Kelly hinted that the Irish might introduce some new faces at wide receiver to get more speed on the field today.  That led to a lot of speculation that we may see the debuts of Braden Lenzy or Lawrence Keys.  Both freshman could add a speed element to the Notre Dame receiving corps that the Irish have been lacking this season.  How much either plays, if at all though still remains to be seen.  From the moment Kelly said it I was a bit skeptical just because it made no sense for him to reveal that as easily as he did.  College coaches hold those kind o things close to the vest usually.

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If Keys or Lenzy remain on the sidelines, a couple names to look for are freshman Kevin Austin and sophomore Michael Young.  I don’t know if you can classify either a “burner” but both have good football speed and could come in handy today.  Austin and Young both had some big moments this year but neither was a consistent threat.

A year ago Young recorded the first touchdown of his career in the Citrus Bowl against LSU.  That could be Austin today.


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  1. Storespook 12 months ago

    Dismissing Kelly at this point isn’t likely to happen and though I have my criticisms of Kelly, I am not sure who out there would want to come coach at ND. I for one did not feel disappointed about the season, but, did feel disappointed by only seeing ND score 3 points in the game last night. I do think the talent level of disparity was showcased watching the 4 CFP teams and ND would be rated 4th of the 4 teams in depth & skill. I don’t see how that is going to change overall down the road for the program. The modern game has evolved so extensively that it appears ND has issue in evolving along with it as a program to be considered a decent contender, year in-year out. ESPN deliberately left out ND in its CFP advertisement and unfortunately, ND did nothing last night on the field to dissuade that kind of media dissing continuing. As a ND fan, I wish the team performed better in the bigger post season games they have or will appear in as a team. Under Kelly, it’s not only 0-3 in big post season games, it’s how the team has looked in those losses that is very consistent, getting their asses stomped and looking so unprepared. I thought they would have to have some breaks and execute flawlessly to beat Clemson, but, maybe I would feel differently if the score had been 30 to 27 or 30 to 23. I didn’t think putting only 3 points on the field would be the outcome offensively. I don’t have answers how to improve post season play in big games but apparently neither do the people being paid a large amount of money who should be providing those answers. It will be a long off season to ponder.

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    1. ChrisJ 12 months ago

      Exactly. If we had showed up and made it a game then I would have been satisfied. Clemson is a good team but other poor teams in the trash ACC played them better than we did last night. What does that tell you? Our coaches are garbage. That’s what it says to me

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  2. Bruce Gregory Curme 12 months ago

    Well I’ve read the recent comments and reread the older ones. So it’s time to stop whining about the rain and start building an arc. Where’s your short list for head coach? I must have missed it. Who are you suggesting we make an offer to, just after dismissing a 12-1 coach?

    BGC ’77 ’82

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  3. Doc Savage 12 months ago

    Some of you people sound like your pissed off at the Irish? What in God’s little green Earth did you expect? Did some of you actually believe that ND was going to win the big game? If you did, you must like having a mistress whip your little dongs. I, like most of you am a ND fan and have been for years but one thing I learned years ago is you can’t count on the Irish to win the big games period. I didn’t even watch the game because I knew what the results would be and if I’d of been in Vegas I would have bet against the Irish!

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    1. Ron Burgundy 12 months ago

      You don’t actually need to be in Vegas to bet. Bummer, as you cost yourself untold riches.

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  4. Keith 12 months ago

    Let’s just consider this: 2016: 4-8. 2017: 10-3. 2018: 12-1. In which direction would you say this program is moving? We got our asses kicked tonight. Sure. But Notre Dame went 12-1 with wins over Michigan, USC, and Florida State. The fact that so many people are calling that a disappointment is a testament to how far this program has come in the last 10 years. I remember people being ecstatic 10 years ago because we beat Hawaii to finish 7-6. But after going 12-1 it’s all doom and gloom because we lost to an elite team with a generational QB.

    Brian Kelly is 4-4 in Bowl Games at ND. Yes, he’s lost the big ones. But we were in the big ones.

    Notre Dame is one of the top programs in the country. We aren’t Bama. We aren’t Clemson. That sucks, because we should be. We should be at that level. We should always be at that level. But this program is now 22-4 in the past two seasons with a bowl win over LSU and an appearance in the College Football Playoff. All this pissing and moaning is pathetic. This is our second 12 win season under Kelly. We had two under Holtz. Kelly is not a great coach. But he’s by far the best coach we’ve had since Holtz. These are, by far, the best seasons we’ve had since Holtz. Maybe ND will find another legend to lead us back to the promised land. But can’t we be happy being dissapointed going 12-1?

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    1. ChrisJ 12 months ago

      So Keith you are satisfied with 12-1 and not showing up to play in the biggest game of the year…..AGAIN

      Good for you snowflake

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  5. pete 12 months ago

    62 years old and once again very disappointed. Losing always hurts. Coming into this game I thought Clemson would win but Notredame would take them to the wire. Looking at this game a few things stick out to me. Number 1 NotreDames defense is pretty good. Not great not as good as Clemson or Alabama. The problem is the offense is nowhere close to championship level. Notredame has 1 grat skilled player Dexter Williams. I saw about 6 to 7 on Clemson, Alabama and Oklahoma. Also you could tell watching this game that Clemson was the far better coached team.I dont know where Kelly got this reputation as a great offensive coach. In his 9 years at NotreDame he has failed to produce an unstoppabe offene capable of averaging 45 points a game.

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  6. Irishchan 12 months ago

    I can’t take anything away from this class. Bottom line they won 12 games this season. I don’t know exactly where they rank in difficulty of schedule but that’s hard to do.

    When it comes to the college playoff ND doesn’t stand a chance.

    Clemson puts absolute studs on the field. Studs. 6’3” linebackers that run 4.3 forty’s. 350lb defensive lineman. Freshman qb’s who play like veterans.

    Let’s not even talk about Bama. Forget it. There’s two teams in the county that have a shot a beating Bama. Clemson and Georgia.

    Notre Dame simply isn’t at that level athlete wise. Period.

    Look, these kids that played tonight earned the right to be there. They fought like hell and earned 12 victories. They beat some quality teams this year.

    The only way ND wins a national championship is if they can field a team that has top 100 talent consistently year after year. It’s time for ND to look at making adjustments to who they allow to enroll at the university.

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