Alabama's dominance has overshadowed just how good Dabo Swinney and Clemson have been. On the backs of superstar freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence and one of the best defenses in the country, the Tigers shredded the ACC. While their matchup against Notre Dame just got a lot harder after the suspensions of a few players that included defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, there is still a clear path to victory.
4. Stack the Box and Stop The Run
With Dexter Lawrence out, expect a heavy dose of running backs Dexter Williams and Jafar Armstrong in the early going. Part of what makes Ian Book so good is his ability to throw accurately off of play action. That element of balance is integral to Notre Dame's offense. Clemson needs to sell out and stop the run, forcing Book to win the game with his arm alone.
3. Don't Be Afraid to Stretch the Notre Dame Defense Downfield
For a true freshman, Lawrence's arm and accuracy on deep passes is truly remarkable. While the Irish defense, centered around future pro players like Te'Von Coney, Drue Tranquill, and Julian Love looks daunting, none of them possess great speed. With Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins lining up out wide and possessing sub-4.5 speed, Lawrence should cut it loose downfield every now and again.
2. Make Ian Book Hold on to the Ball
Notre Dame's offense is closely related to a West Coast offense predicated on quick, one read throws. They may throw the ball plenty, but rarely down field. They want the ball in Ian Book's hands as little as possible. Clemson needs to play an aggressive man coverage in order to prevent Book from quickly dumping it off. The longer he holds the ball, the more likely Christian Wilkins and Clelin Ferrell get to him.
1. Ride Travis Etienne Until the Wheels Fall Off
For all the hype surrounding Lawrence, he is still a true freshman. Don't put this game on his shoulders alone. Running back Travis Etienne, who has accumulated 1,463 yards and 21 touchdowns, should get at least 30 touches in this game. Powerful, fast, and capable of carrying the load for the Clemson offense, a strong showing from Etienne should be enough to give Clemson the win.