October 3, 2015

Game Prediction - Clemson vs. Notre Dame

When you draw up the biggest home game in over 30 years in your mind, you think of crisp, cool air, stars in the sky, green grass and bright lights.

However, when Clemson takes on Notre Dame on Saturday night, it will cold with torrential downpours and high winds. Think monsoon.

Nonetheless, the game must go on. Who has the upper hand when the Tigers and Fighting Irish play in what could be deemed Mud Bowl 2015.

NO. 6 NOTRE DAME (4-0) AT NO. 12 CLEMSON (3-0)
WHERE: Memorial Stadium (81,500)
KICKOFF: 8:22 p.m.

NOTRE DAME OFFENSE VS. CLEMSON DEFENSE: Brent Venables and the Clemson defense will have its toughest test to date with Deshone Kizer, Will Fuller, C.J. Prosise and the Notre Dame offense.

Kizer will be making his first road start as quarterback for the Fighting Irish. Look for Venables to call several blitzes on the first couple of plays to try and rattle the redshirt freshman.

Fuller is regarded as one of the top wide receivers in the country with six touchdowns and 133 receiving yards per game. Will Mackensie Alexander, Clemson’s All-American cornerback, have a statement game like he did in the Russell Athletic Bowl?

Prosise has 600 yards on 74 yards in just three games, and on a third of his carries defenders are touching him until he’s five yards past the line of scrimmage. That’s winning football. How will Venables attack the experienced offensive line of Notre Dame? Can Shaq Lawson, Scott Pagano, Christian Wilkins and Kevin Dodd get enough pressure on Kizer and stop Prosise?s

CLEMSON OFFENSE VS. NOTRE DAME DEFENSE: Clemson’s offense has looked really good at times and completely out of sync at times. Which unit will show up?

As much as people have complained about Deshaun Watson over the last two games, the sophomore signal caller is still completing over 70 percent of his passes and has thrown for 641 yards and seven touchdowns so far this season. He should his ability to run against Louisvill in the read option game, a nice shake up with running back Wayne Gallman as the option.

Gallman is a force in normal conditions bowling over defenders and picking up the tough yards. The redshirt sophomore has rushed for 310 yards this season, including 139 yards at Louisville.

For Clemson, the key will be opening up holes in the running game by hitting some passes to spread Notre Dame’s defense out. The Irish have a stout front seven, but thye are still on 55th in the nation in pass defense and 47th in rush defense. Clemson’s offensive line will need to pass protect and give Gallman space to run.

For me, the battle that will determine who wins and who loses is Clemson’s offensive line and Notre Dame’s defensive line.

Clemson’s special teams have been a mixed bag so far. Andy Teasdall has been serviceable at punter. Greg Huegel has looked good while kicking field goals and the return games have been ok. The problem has been on kickoff coverage. Dabo Swinney gave Ammon Lakip, who is returning from a three game suspension, kickoff duties and made some personnel changes in the coverage unit.

For the Irish, punter Tyler Newsome is a weapon, averaging 47.11 yards per punt, however, kicker Justin Yoon has struggled mightily. He’s missed to extra points and two field goals.

Which team can hit a field goal in gusty crosswinds when their team needs it?

WHAT WILL HAPPEN: Saturday’s game won’t be for the faint of heart. It’s going to be strength against strength game in monsoon like conditions with 35 mile per hour winds. The team that can avoid the costly turnovers and take care of the ball will emerge victorious.

I’m not sure that Notre Dame and Kizer quite know what they’re walking into, but despite the conditions Clemson fans will show ready to make a difference in the game. The noise combined with Clemson’s defense will be too much for the Irish offense to handle, while Watson and the Clemson offense do just enough to remain unbeaten.


Post written by Clemson Girl Sports Bloggess, Nikki Hood

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