It has been a very long time coming, however Clemson and Notre Dame are again in the Cotton Bowl.
In a matchup of undefeated groups, no much less.
When No. 2 Clemson (13-Zero) and No. Three Notre Dame (12-Zero) battle Saturday night time at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, it’ll mark the Tigers’ first journey to the Cotton Bowl since 1940; the Fighting Irish are returning to school soccer’s fourth-oldest bowl for the primary time since 1994.
“I’ve been in college football for a long time, and I’ve never had the opportunity to experience the Cotton Bowl,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney stated. “But I know a lot of people who have said what a great experience it is.”
That expertise will probably be even higher if the Tigers can determine a method to accomplish what no different crew has been in a position to this season — specifically, prevail towards Notre Dame in a detailed recreation. The Fighting Irish received six video games by 10 factors or much less this season.
“They take care of the ball, play within their schemes,” Swinney stated. “You have to beat them, and to this point nobody’s been able to do that.”
Clemson, however, received its 13 video games by a median margin of practically 32 factors and is making its fourth consecutive look in the College Football Playoff. The Tigers have gone Three-2 in the playoff, together with a victory towards Alabama in the 2016 title recreation. But the Crimson Tide turned the tables on Clemson final yr, throttling the Tigers in a 24-6 win in the Sugar Bowl earlier than occurring to win the nationwide championship.
Notre Dame is making its first look in the College Football Playoff.
“The most impressive thing about Notre Dame to me is they don’t beat themselves,” Swinney stated. “You can watch from game one all the way through and count on three fingers how many times they’ve got guys running wide open. They’re where they’re supposed to be. They’re not going to give you a whole lot.”
Clemson All-American defensive finish Clelin Ferrell says the Tigers’ star-studded protection, which ranks among the many Top 5 nationally in a number of defensive classes, together with yards allowed per play, tackles for loss and sacks, will face its high problem thus far.
“They have no weaknesses,” Ferrell stated. “Every offense that we have performed, there’s been one thing that we may form of exploit, however Notre Dame, they’re good in any respect ranges.
“They’re good in every single place. We cannot shrink the playbook towards them. We’ve received to be prepared for every part and that makes it onerous on us.
“But I feel like we’ve got the right group of guys. We knew this was how it was going to be in the College Football Playoff. It’s going to be a tough task, but we’re going to be ready for it.”
Clemson’s protection could possibly be short-handed. Standout deal with Dexter Lawrence was amongst three gamers suspended earlier this week after testing constructive for “a sliver,” Swinney stated, of banned substance osterine. A second take a look at probably may clear Lawrence in addition to tight finish Braden Galloway and offensive lineman Zach Giella.
Notre Dame may have extra assist than one suspended starter for Clemson. The Tigers boast one of many high offenses in the nation as properly, rating fifth in scoring offense at 45.four factors per recreation.
A change to freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence in the season’s fifth recreation proved to be the precise transfer and the rookie responded with greater than 2,600 yards passing, 24 touchdowns and solely 4 interceptions.
The 6-foot-6 Lawrence is flanked by one of many nation’s high operating backs in sophomore Travis Etienne, who averages eight.Three yards per carry, and a deep and gifted receiving corps.
“I think the running back, Etienne, I think he’s as good a running back as we’ve seen since Georgia of last year, that kind of talent,” Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly stated. “The quarterback is really good. He’s got great arm talent. He’s tall and can see the field. I think the receiving corps is on par with a USC receiving corps. That’s a pretty dynamic offensive set.”
Notre Dame’s in-season change to quarterback Ian Book additionally paid off. Book has guided the Irish to perfection whereas throwing for 22 touchdowns and solely six interceptions. Running again Dexter Williams is on the cusp of 1,000 yards regardless of enjoying in solely eight video games.