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Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly, left, and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney share a moment during the NCAA Cotton Bowl football coaches' news conference in Dallas, Friday, Dec. 28, 2018. Notre Dame is scheduled to play Clemson in the NCAA Cotton Bowl semi-final playoff Saturday. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
(AP Photo/LM Otero)
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College Football Playoff Preview: Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Clemson Tigers


December 28, 2018

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Some say they don’t belong, some say that they are not the best and that their glory days are behind them, some even question their relevancy and credibility as a top program. One thing is for sure, don’t sleep on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Ranked third in the final College Football Playoff poll, Notre Dame—love them or hate them—comes into the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic down in Jerryworld against a long-time nemesis in Dabo Swinney and the second-ranked Clemson Tigers, in what could be a very defensive and low-scoring game.

Boasting one of the tenth-best defense in the country in allowing 17.3 points per game, there is just something about THIS Notre Dame team that could possibly revive the ancient echoes from glory days gone by. They say that defense travels—both the the NFL and in college—and Notre Dame is as battle-tested and touch as any opponent a team could dread playing as they smother opposing quarterbacks  and play a slow grind-it-out style of football, quarterbacked by Mr. It in Ian Book.

Not as prolific as Kyler Murray, Tua Tagovailoa, or even his freshman counterpart at Clemson in Trevor Lawrence, Book has the ability to make last-minute big plays, as he has done all season. He will need to make just enough of them in order to beat a Clemson defense that is loaded with NFL talent.

Not many teams can boast have a war daddy. But Clemson has FOUR of them in Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence, Christian Wilkins and Austin Bryant, with three of them in Ferrell, Wilkins and Bryant being draft-eligible deciding to return, it was a decision that sent shockwaves throughout college football and proverbial shivers through the soul of any QB fated to face the so-called “Best D-Line Ever” by Sports Illustrated.

With the 6’4, 350-pound Lawrence suspended due to a failed  A and B samples for trace amounts of ostarine, Clemson may be without their leader, but make no mistake, Clemson has more talent on defense, offense and on the sidelines to keep Notre Dame in check.

Unless Notre Dame can force Lawrence to play like a true freshman, get some turnovers and convert and wear down Clemson’s stout defense line, look for Clemson to win easily.

Prediction: Clemson 24 Notre Dame 17

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com

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