Staff Predictions: Notre Dame vs. Clemson
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, October 2, 2015
Greg Hadley, Editor-in-Chief
To go into Death Valley and come out with a win, Notre Dame needs C.J. Prosise to have a great game, DeShone Kizer to have a good one and the defense to have a complete one. And the Irish will also need a little luck.
That’s a lot of moving parts that need to come together, but numerous injuries haven’t rattled the Irish yet, so a road environment should be managable enough. Brian Kelly seems to do his best work in these kinds of games, at least giving his team a chance to win with a strong game plan.
This one will go back and forth, all the way until the final minute, only for Justin Yoon to come in and hit the game-winning field goal.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 31, Clemson 28
Mary Green, Assistant Managing Editor
The key to an Irish win Saturday lies in the legs of C.J. Prosise, the most consistent force on offense the past three weeks.
Will Fuller will be there to make plays, but last week’s win over UMass showed Fuller doesn’t need to have a superb game — just his usually outstanding catch here and there — for the Irish to win.
They do need Prosise and the offensive line to find holes. So far, no one’s been able to stop them from doing that.
Louisville didn’t exactly challenge Clemson’s run defense last week, but the Cardinals defense did keep Deshaun Watson from putting up stellar numbers himself.
Prosise and the Irish defense should be able to hold steady, and they’ll escape Death Valley unscathed.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 27, Clemson 20
Zach Klonsinski, Sports Editor
This matchup will be hyped as a duel of Deshaun vs. DeShone.
The bigger thing to watch, however, will be how the Irish ground attack controls the game. Last year against Florida State, the Irish put up 157 yards on the ground and averaged 4.1 yards per attempt. This season, Notre Dame is averaging a ridiculous 284.8 yards per game and 6.7 per carry.
I don’t see any need for the Irish to stray from this game plan. If it reaches anywhere near 200 yards, Notre Dame puts itself in a strong position to win this football game.
Kizer will need to make a couple throws, but get ready for the “Prosise for Heisman” whispers to grow a little louder next week.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 38, Clemson 27
Alex Carson, Associate Sports Editor
As is natural this early in the season, there are still some question marks surrounding both Notre Dame and Clemson heading into their primetime matchup. Will Deshaun Watson finally have a breakout game this season after three pedestrian performances? How will DeShone Kizer respond to the pressure on the road?
But for as much as we can quibble about the quarterbacks, at the end of the day, this game will be decided in the trenches, with Notre Dame’s ability to move the ball on the ground perhaps the most important factor. A year ago at Florida State, the Irish offensive and defensive lines had standout games to put the team in position for the win. This year, a similar performance from the big guys will be enough to finish the job.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 34, Clemson 24
Brian Plamondon, Sports Writer
Who would have thought before the season that a matchup of unbeatens in Week 5 with Gameday on campus would contain two teams with so much to prove? Notre Dame’s four previous opponents are a combined 4-11, while Clemson has wins against Wofford, Appalachian State and a 1-3 Louisville team.
The key to this game will be setting the tempo early. Both teams have that opportunity: Clemson is coming off plenty of rest with 16 days in between games, while Notre Dame is outscoring its opponents 47-6 in the first quarter.
The road aspect makes me tentative in picking Notre Dame. In the battle of Deshaun versus DeShone, look for Clemson’s preseason Heisman hopeful to make a few more plays than his Irish counterpart.
FINAL SCORE: Clemson 31, Notre Dame 24