By far the most peculiar of the four members of the 2018 College Football Playoff, Brian Kelly's Notre Dame Fighting Irish were an afterthought until starter Brandon Wimbush was benched in favor of Ian Book. Since then, the Irish have gone on a tear and have a date with Dabo Swinney in the Cotton Bowl looming. Defeating Clemson seems hard, but there are a few weaknesses to tis particular Tigers squad.
4. Target Chase Claypool More than Myles Boykin
Both Miles Boykin and Chase Claypool are 6-4+, 220-pound+ receivers who can make contested catches with ease and deliver a blow as a ball carrier. However, Boykin, the leading receiver on the team, will likely be shadowed by Trayvon Mullen, a corner getting NFL looks. Clemson's secondary is big on speed, but a tad undersized. Claypool should be in line for a big day.
3. Slow the Game Down
Pretty simple math here. The more time you have the ball, the less time Trevor Lawrence has it. Clemson's offense can put up points as efficiently as anyone in the country when they are really in a groove. Notre Dame's defense has good individual players, but isn't exactly the '85 Bears. The Irish need to dictate the tempo and pace of this game.
2. Take Away the Vertical Part of Clemson's Passing Game
Travis Etienne is one of the best running backs in the country, but what really sets this offense apart is Lawrence's ability to chuck bombs down the field with regularity. Receivers like Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins laid waste to the best of the ACC this season. Corner Julian Love and safety Drue Tranquill need to play the game of their lives to take away that deep threat and make the Tigers' offense one-dimensional.
1. Make Sure Clemson Feels The Absence Of Dexter Lawrence
It's hard to understate how important Lawrence is to this defense. The 340-pound defensive tackle is arguably as good as it gets at his position in the country. Albert Huggins has played well as a backup, but he's not close to Lawrence. Make sure Clemson gets that message. Keep running Dexter Williams and Jafar Armstrong right where No. 90 would have been and Notre Dame could walk out of AT&T Stadium with a win.