Notre Dame faces another top-10 test in Clemson
Joe Everett | Friday, October 6, 2017
After climbing back into the win column with a 2-1 victory over Northwestern on Tuesday at Alumni Stadium, No. 9 Notre Dame hits the road to face No. 5 Clemson on Friday in a top-10 ACC showdown.
Top-10 matchups are becoming a commonplace event for the Irish (7-2-1, 2-1-1 ACC), as two of the team’s past three games were against top-10 ranked teams at game time, in then-No. 1 Indiana and then-No. 10 Virginia. The Tigers (8-2-0, 2-2-0) have had their fair share of quality opponents as well, as they suffered a gut-wrenching 3-2 double-overtime loss on the road against No. 2 Wake Forest this past Friday. Irish head coach Bobby Clark said his team is used to playing in these high-intensity matchups, but noted that Clemson will pose a particularly tough challenge at home inside Historic Riggs Field.
“All ACC games are very difficult, and when they’re on the road especially,” Clark said. “If we can pull [a win or tie] out of this we’ll be very happy. They’re a good team, a very experienced team, with a lot of quality players, so it’s a game to look forward to. There’ll be a big crowd … and it’ll be a loud environment. Our guys usually respond well in these situations, but we’ll need a very good performance, there’s no question about that. This is the nature of our schedule … there’s not a game that we don’t look forward to.”
Including Friday’s game, the Irish have seven games left on the slate for the 2017 regular season. The schedule’s brutality continues for Notre Dame well after the Clemson game, however, as the Irish will wrap up the regular season against three-straight ranked teams: No. 19 Duke at home, followed by No. 6 Michigan State and No. 4 North Carolina. The last two games will be played away from Alumni Stadium, and although the Irish have lost their past two road matches, Clark does not consider them bad losses, as he believes the Irish have not played any bad teams, and will not anytime soon.
“You’re playing the No. 1 team in the country and now another Top-10 team in Clemson … there aren’t a lot of teams around the country that are playing [this many] top-10 teams on the road,” Clark said. “I’m not taking anything away from our previous road wins, as Connecticut or Boston College are both good teams, but neither are top-10 teams at the moment.
“ … Every game is a challenge in a different way, and [it comes down to] how do we handle games one at a time and take on a challenge? The fun thing is that these are games worth looking forward to, and the guys are looking forward to this one.”
Clark also commented on how the players are holding up physically, as well as academically, with midterms and the possible lack of focus looming.
“That’s part of being a Notre Dame student-athlete,” Clark said. “Whatever you’re doing at the moment, that’s what you should be focused on. I think they’re in good shape [physically]. There hasn’t been a lot of training going on, so the guys are playing and then regenerating, getting themselves ready for the next game.”
The Irish and the Tigers will kick off Friday evening at 7 p.m. at Historic Riggs Field in Clemson, South Carolina.