The ACC Championship on Saturday will be a November 7th rematch between Clemson and Notre Dame. The Irish took down the Tigers by a score of 47-40 in South Bend in a double OT thriller. Notre Dame was the better team that night, but can they make it 2 for 2 against the Tigers in 2020?
People didn’t give the Irish too much credit for their regular-season victory over Clemson. The future pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Trevor Lawrence, didn’t play because he was recovering from COVID-19. Lawrence was on the sideline with a mask, but he didn’t take one snap inside of Notre Dame Stadium that night.
The Irish believe that they can slay the Tigers once again, but college football fans around America don’t know if Notre Dame is legit.
Will the Irish take the ACC title back to South Bend in 2020? Let’s take a look!
ACC Championship – The Irish
Notre Dame has had a terrific 2020 campaign. The Irish are a 10.5-point underdog on Saturday, but they’re clearly one of the best teams in the country. The Irish have the most efficient defense in the conference. The offense isn’t too bad either taking home the third ranked spot when it comes to points scored per game. The offense is led by senior QB Ian Book.
Book can thread the needle and make all the throws necessary for his team to take down the Tigers on Saturday. The senior QB has thrown fifteen touchdowns and only two interceptions in 2020. He has the 7th ranked QBR in America so Clemson will have to neutralize him on Saturday unlike the first time the teams met in November.
Book is going to need to be spectacular on Saturday because the Irish haven’t seen a quarterback like Trevor Lawrence all season long.
ACC Championship – The Tigers
Clemson couldn’t have played much worse than they did against Notre Dame in November. Nevertheless, they almost beat Notre Dame with freshman QB DJ Uigalelei. Uigalelei had a big statical outing in South Bend, but missed throws that he needed to make to give the Tigers the win.
Trevor Lawrence doesn’t miss easy throws and he also gives the Tigers a level of confidence that only he can provide. With Lawrence, Clemson has been unstoppable. Lawrence has thrown 20 touchdowns to only three interceptions in eight games this season.
The true junior is completing over 70% of his passes against teams in the AP Top 25. I believe that Clemson is better than Alabama with Trevor Lawrence in the game. When Lawrence receives some support in the run game from senior RB Travis Etienne, the Clemson offense is very difficult to stop.
ACC Championship – Will Lawrence Make a Difference?
YES! Trevor Lawrence will make a difference for Clemson in the ACC Championship Game. He’s the best player in the country so his presence will be felt by the Notre Dame defense. Putting this aside, Notre Dame still has the ability to beat Clemson.
Notre Dame will need to play even better than they did against the Tigers in November. Notre Dame generated over 500 yards of offense in their regular-season meeting against Clemson. They were also +2 in the turnover margin.
Defensively, the Irish held Clemson to 34 yards on the ground. This put the entire burden on DJ Uigalelei. He handled it exceptionally for a freshman, but it wasn’t enough for his team to defeat Notre Dame. The Irish had a flawless game plan against Clemson which allowed them to pull off the upset, but I don’t think they can go undefeated against Clemson in 2020.
Lawrence will force Notre Dame to focus on defending the secondary. This strategy could work, but it will require Notre Dame to take some players out of the box. Travis Etienne could be the difference-maker on paper, but this will be because of Notre Dame’s effort to contain the right arm of Trevor Lawrence.
The Clemson offensive line will need to handle the Irish inside, but Lawrence’s presence will take some pressure off of the big boys up front. Lawrence adds so much more to this game than just a great arm. Defensive game planning is all about “give and take.” Notre Dame will have to give additional support in the secondary to neutralize Lawrence, but this will hurt the Irish between the tackles.
The Irish could also blitz all night, but Lawrence can handle the heat. It’s a “damned if we do, damned if we don’t” situation for Notre Dame.
No matter what Trevor Lawrence does statistically on Saturday, his presence will be the reason that Clemson wins their sixth straight ACC title.
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