The Observer predicts Notre Dame vs. Clemson
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, November 3, 2023
José Sánchez Cordova, Assistant Managing Editor
Clemson has been a huge disappointment this season. Coming into the year, this weekend was circled on the Notre Dame schedule along with USC and Ohio State. Instead of the college football juggernaut they expected, the Irish get a 4-4 Clemson team and a noon kickoff. Even so, I expect Dabo Swinney to get his players ready for a big game. They’ve shown a penchant for doing that in ranked matchups against Florida State and Miami. But the common denominator in both of those games was the Tigers ended up losing. I think we’ll see that again on Saturday. Clemson will look better than their 4-4 record indicates, but ultimately will fall short against a Notre Dame team with a ton of momentum going into Death Valley. Notre Dame 24, Clemson 20.
Andrew McGuinness, Sports Editor
A lot of people are probably either going to have Notre Dame blowing out the Tigers or the game being a total nail-biter. But I’m splitting it right down the middle. Clemson isn’t good, but they aren’t atrocious, and Dabo Swinney remains a good in-game coach, regardless of what you think about his views on NIL and the transfer portal. However, the Irish passing game finally showed signs of life against Pitt. And Notre Dame’s secondary, especially if it gets back sophomore and senior cornerbacks, is a mismatch against struggling Clemson QB Cade Klubnik. Notre Dame 27, Clemson 14.
J.J. Post, Associate Sports Editor
Though the records certainly indicate a stark contrast between the two squads, I’m weary of predicting any form of comfortable victory for the Irish on Saturday. For all of Clemson’s struggles this year, Dabo Swinney is still one of college football’s most accomplished coaches, and the Tigers are still a team stocked with high-caliber players. There’s a reason Clemson took a Florida State team that looks to be one of the nation’s best this year to the wire.
That being said, this is a Clemson team that is in a funk. Road games are always difficult, but a two-game ACC losing streak would have been unthinkable for prior iterations of the Tigers. Clemson’s defense is rock solid, but I think Notre Dame’s defensive unit makes the difference, keeping a struggling Tiger offense under wraps while the Irish offense eventually grinds out enough points to grab a victory at Memorial Stadium. Notre Dame 23, Clemson 17.
Madeline Ladd, Associate Sports Editor
4-4 Clemson is having a very rough season and has publicly exhibited their frustration about their performance. However, the Tigers will be looking for revenge from last year’s embarrassing loss in South Bend and avoid losing three games in a row for the first time since 2010. The biggest question this week is who will take the spot of Sam Hartman’s most-trusted receiver now that Mitchell Evans is out for the season. Tight end Holden Staes has proven he can do the job and there is still plenty of talent available provided the rest of the wide receiver group steps up, gets separation and catches the ball.
Clemson’s defense is still 6th in the nation, so Hartman will have to be on his game to take out the Tigers this week with the key being avoiding turnovers. As for the Notre Dame defense, they should be able to easily handle Clemson and quarterback Cade Klubnik’s average performance. If Notre Dame can knock off the Tigers, they are likely looking at a 10-win season and possible New Year’s Six bowl game. I expect a defensive battle with special teams being the difference-maker in an Irish win. Notre Dame 24, Clemson 17.
Matthew Crow, Associate Sports Editor
Given the way both teams’ seasons are trending, it’s tempting to pick Notre Dame to win comfortably, but I see this one going down to the wire. The Irish have not been at their best on the road, and the Tigers – despite their 4-4 record – have been highly competitive and came within a field goal of taking down No. 4 Florida State.
Notre Dame’s red-hot defense shouldn’t have much trouble slowing down Clemson’s middling offense. But the Tigers’ defense – ranked sixth nationally in yards allowed per game – could create problems for the Irish, who will be without leading receiver Mitchell Evans after he suffered a season-ending injury against Pitt. Notre Dame will ultimately do enough to earn its third win over Clemson in four years, but the Irish will have to battle for 60 minutes to do so. Notre Dame 27, Clemson 24.
Tom Zwiller, Senior Sports Writer
This will sound crazy, but this Clemson team is not as bad as you think. And no its not the “any Clemson team is a dangerous team” cliche.
Yes, the Tigers lost to Duke 28-7 and then to NC State 24-17. But, in reality, Clemson outplayed both Duke and NC State. The Tigers outgained the Blue Devils 29-17 in first downs.
Their loss to the Wolfpack tells a similar story, to the tale of a 20-9 advantage. What cost the Tigers those games was the turnover margin, which they lost in both.
That’s excellent news for an Irish defense tied for third in the nation in interceptions (13). I think the Irish defense is going to load the box and dare Cade Klubnik to beat them with his arm.
I do worry about the Notre Dame offense, especially with the loss of TE Mitchell Evans. In my own power rankings, I have Clemson as a top-10 defensive unit. I think they can limit Notre Dame and keep the Irish scoring in the low 20s. Notre Dame 21, Clemson 17.