A Preview to the ACC Championship
Will the Irish be able to ward off the Clemson Tigers one more time or can Dabo and Trevor Lawrence put a stop to Notre Dames undefeated season?
Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina will be the host to two of Americas best college football teams this season, the 10-0, Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the 9-1, Clemson Tigers for the ACC Championship game. This matchup serves as possibly, the most important game of the whole college football season with Notre Dame sitting at number two and Clemson at number three.
Earlier this season on November 7th, the Tigers made the trip to South Bend, Indiana to play at Notre Dame. The Irish won 47-40 in double overtime. Clemson quarterback, Trevor Lawrence did not play in this contest due to Covid-19 so, true freshman DJ Uiagalelei, was forced to step in but, did not disappoint. DJ threw for 439 yards and 2 touchdowns.
A win for Notre Dame would lock them into the playoff and kill the Tigers hopes for a National Championship but, if Trevor Lawrence can will his team to a win then, Clemson will lock up their playoff spot and completely scramble the top four playoff spots.
The Irish are led into the game this weekend by head coach Brian Kelly who holds a 102-37 record at the helm of Notre Dame. This is Kelly’s sixth, ten win season with the Irish and is searching for his second National Championship appearance.
Notre Dames offense has been very well rounded the whole season. Quarterback, Ian Book has had a stellar year to this point. He has thrown for 15 touchdowns and 2382 yards while also rushing for 550 yards with 8 touchdowns. He hasn’t been the only Irish player that has had success on the ground. Running back Kyren Williams has carried the ball 180 times for 1011 yards and 12 touchdowns. Books biggest help through the air has been graduate transfer Ben Skowronek, who has reeled in 5 touchdowns and 344 yards.
Senior linebacker, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Sophomore safety, Kyle Hamilton have been the two anchors for the Irish defense that has only allowed 171 points this season. Owusu-Koramoah has 49 tackles, 9 for loss, and 1.5 sacks, while Hamilton has put up 46 tackles and 4 pass break ups.
The real MVP for the Irish has been their offensive line, as it is many years. This season, the leader in the offensive line room has been the 6-6, 306 pound, graduate student, Liam Eichenberg who protects Ian Books blind side. The Irish have rushed for 2350 yards behind the offensive line this season.
On the other sideline for this game is Trevor Lawrence who is looking for an opportunity to shine against the Irish because, he was not able to play in the first match up due to Covid-19. Lawrence on the season has thrown for 2431 yards and 20 touchdowns. The key for the Tigers rushing attack this year has been star running back Travis Etienne who has amassed 758 yards to go with a dozen touchdowns.
For the Tigers on defense, they have to fill the loss of star linebacker Jack Venables who recently broke a radiums bone and will miss the rest of the season. The heart of Clemsons defense this season has come from another linebacker though; graduate student, Baylon Spector, who has racked up 3.5 sacks and 57 tackles, 14 of which came against the Virginia Cavaliers.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney will have the Tigers prepared for war, especially having a healthy Trevor Lawrence back, it just comes down too if Lawrence can handle the stifling Notre Dame defense. My prediction for this game is Notre Dame pulls out another slim win over the Tigers with the score of 38-34.