Game Of The Week 5: No.6 Notre Dame at No.12 Clemson
Although there are plenty of high stakes matchups between top-tier teams throughout the duration of week five, one game stands out in particular. The No. 6 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-0) will head to South Carolina to take on the No. 12 Clemson Tigers (3-0).
One important storyline of the season so far for Notre Dame has been the emergence of redshirt freshman quarterback DeShone Kizer.
Kizer, who took over for starting quarterback Malik Zaire when he was injured in week two against Virginia, has thrown for 541 yards and five touchdowns since he was promoted to starting QB.
The real success story for the Fighting Irish offense is senior running back C.J. Prosise. He has produced 600 yards on the ground so far this season, ranking fourth in all of college football. On top of all the yards, Prosise has recorded six touchdowns and averages 6.2 yards per carry, all while moving from receiver to running back in the spring.
A big reason for the success of the running game is the Notre Dame offensive line. Head coach Brian Kelly has been very vocal about his offensive line, stating multiple times that this group is one of the best he has coached during his time at Notre Dame.
They are going to need to control the line of scrimmage early against a Clemson defense that ranks 11th in points allowed with 12.3.
If Clemson is going to stop Prosise and the Fighting Irish run attack, they will need to get good production from their highly respected linebacker core. B.J. Goodson, the teams leading tackler with 21, and Ben Boulware have the size and ability to wrap up Prosise and hold him close to the line of scrimmage, but they will need to assert their dominance early and set the tone against such a high-octane offense.
The Clemson Tigers also have another defensive weapon on their defensive line in Shaq Lawson, who has recorded 2.5 sacks so far this season and five tackles for a loss so far this season.
Although the defense is the highlight of Clemson’s team, they boast a high scoring offense that has averaged 36 points per game behind sophomore quarterback Deshaun Watson. Watson has thrown for 641 yards and seven touchdowns in just three games this season.
Despite losing top wide receiver Mike Williams to injury in week one, Clemson has been pleasantly surprised with freshman wide out Artavis Scott, who has accumulated 188 yards and two scores on 20 receptions for the team.
Wayne Gallman, the Tigers starting running back, has also been quite productive this year with 310 yards on the ground and three touchdowns. He is averaging 5.8 yards per carry.
For the Tigers to be successful, their stars will have to step up big.
The Fighting Irish defense has been a question mark all season, especially with the uncertain status of safety Max Redfield.
However, if the Irish defense can handle the Georgia Tech triple option, they can certainly put it all together to hold Clemson back from another big day offensively.
PREDICTION: Clemson 31, Notre Dame: 21
Mike D’Avella is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org.