Five weeks later it’s finally here: Notre Dame football vs. Clemson in the Cotton Bowl with an opportunity to play for the National Championship.
For the last four years, Clemson has finished its season in the College Football Playoff. For Notre Dame football, this is the program’s first trip.
As the two teams prepare for each other, the odds are not favoring the Irish. Notre Dame comes into this game as a double-digit underdog.
The story is fitting when you take a look at the season as a whole. Even in September, it was predicted that Clemson would be here. As for the Irish, their first game against Michigan was considered to have playoff implications, but there wasn’t a lot of hope that the pre-ranked No. 12 Irish would make it this far.
Both teams received a few scares here and there throughout the season, but they answered each and every one.
Clemson’s playoff experience matched with their high scoring offense and dominant defensive line are the biggest reasons Notre Dame is such an underdog.
You can’t replace the playoff experience of this Clemson team, but Notre Dame’s closest counter is their seasoned players. From senior leaders wreaking havoc all year on defense and the offensive weapons Notre Dame has, there are logical reasons for this game to be closer than Vegas expects.
It’s a chance to avenge the 2015 matchup in the eyes of Notre Dame. It’s also a chance to prove that the Irish belong and can silence the nightmares of the 2012 National Championship game.
There has been a lot of pushback due to Notre Dame’s schedule not turning out to be what we thought it was at the beginning of the season — as well as the results of certain games. But Notre Dame answered the bell in every contest, found a way to win, and proved how talented they are.
While many aren’t expecting much of a game, there is no reason not to be excited about the contest we’re about to see and what the Irish are going to bring to it. Here are three bold predictions for Notre Dame vs. Clemson.