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Notre Dame Looks for 1st ACC Title Ever vs. Favored Clemson

Written by:
Associated Press
Published on:
Dec/18/2020

(Associated Press) - No. 2 Notre Dame (10-0, 9-0, No. 2 CFP) vs No. 4 Clemson (9-1, 8-1 ACC, No. 3 CFP) , Saturday at 4 p.m. EST (ABC).

Line: Clemson by 10 1/2.

Series record: Clemson leads 3-2

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

Plenty. Clemson is seeking its sixth straight ACC Championship under coach Dabo Swinney, while Notre Dame, an independent for over a century until joining the league temporarily during this pandemic-altered season, is looking for its first conference title ever. The winner is a lock for the College Football Playoff, which has never had a two-loss participant. Clemson’s only loss this season was a 47-40 double-overtime thriller at Notre Dame.

KEY MATCHUP

Notre Dame QB Ian Book vs. Clemson’s defense: The winningest QB in Notre Dame history with 30 victories, the fifth-year senior led a key drive in that win over Clemson and finished with 310 passing yards (22 of 39) and added 67 yards rushing on 14 carries.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Clemson: QB Trevor Lawrence: Clemson was without the services of the junior quarterback in the last meeting as he recovered from COVID-19. He has since returned and played well. His replacement, freshman D.J. Uiagalelei, threw for a Notre Dame-opponent record 439 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a third score. Lawrence, the likely No. 1 pick in next year’s NFL draft, could put up big numbers against the Irish defense, too.

Notre Dame: RB Kyren Williams: The 5-foot-9, 195-pound sophomore finished with 1,011 rushing yards on 180 carries (5.6-yard average) and 12 touchdowns and added 268 receiving yards on 24 catches and another TD after seeing limited action as a freshman. Williams scored three touchdowns against Clemson earlier this season and finished with 140 rushing yards on 23 attempts.

FACTS & FIGURES

After 131 years as an independent, Notre Dame has a chance to win its first football conference championship. ... The Irish, who enter the game eighth against the run at 99.7 yards per game, limited the Tigers to 34 yards on the ground on 33 carries. … Clemson RB Travis Etienne struggled in the last meeting with just 28 yards rushing on 18 carries. He also fumbled once into the hands of Notre Dame rover Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, who returned it 23 yards for a touchdown. Etienne only has two 100-yard rushing games this season. … Owusu-Koramoah leads the Irish with 49 tackles, including nine vs Clemson. ... Clemson has a 3-2 lead in the series, including a 30-3 thrashing of the Fighting Irish in a CFP semifinal following the 2018 season.

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