College Football Free Pick: Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Clemson Tigers

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Head Coach Dabo Swinney and the No. 2 Clemson Tigers (-12) are coming into the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic as heavy favorites against Coach Brian Kelly and the No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish. ESPN has the TV rights and kickoff is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. ET.

Betting Preview: Clemson Tigers vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

In this Saturday matchup, Clemson has been projected as the big favorite and the team’s currently giving up 12 points. If they are wanting to take the moneyline, bettors would currently need to wager $500 in order to win $100 back on the Tigers (-500). The Fighting Irish are getting +350 moneyline odds. Vegas has placed the over/under (O/U) at 55 points, and if one team catches a lucky break early, it’ll probably create a nice betting scenario in-game.

The opening line was initially set at -11 while the O/U was originally 56, so sharp bettors have been showing a preference both the Tigers and the under.

Both of these teams have rewarded gamblers this season as the Fighting Irish have gained 9.3 units while the Tigers are ahead 5.0 units.

The Fighting Irish have gone 12-0 straight up (SU) in 2018 while the Tigers are 13-0 SU.

The Irish are hoping to stay unbeaten after a 24-17 victory over USC on November 24. Ian Book completed just 22-of-39 passes for 352 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Dexter Williams (97 yards on 16 rush attempts, one TD) led the ground attack in the win. Chris Finke (seven receptions, 86 yards, one TD) and Chase Claypool (five catches, 73 yards) shared the receiving duties.

Clemson is coming off of a 42-10 win over Pittsburgh. The defense allowed the Panthers to run for 191 yards on 48 rush attempts, along with one rushing TD. Darrin Hall was a bright spot in the loss, posting 86 rushing yards on 14 attempts for Pittsburgh. For Clemson, Trevor Lawrence completed 12-of-24 passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns. Travis Etienne (156 yards on 12 rush attempts, two TDs) and Adam Choice (51 yards on seven carries, one TD) spearheaded the ground game in the win while Tee Higgins (three receptions, 36 yards, two TDs) and Trevion Thompson (three catches, 15 yards) led the receiving corps.

Notre Dame has run the ball on 56.6 percent of its offensive possessions this year while Clemson has an overall rush percentage of 53.5 percent. The Fighting Irish have run for 190.5 yards/game and have 27 scores via handoffs this year. The Tigers are logging 259.8 rushing yards per game and have 46 total rush TDs.

If 2018 numbers can translate to this game, then it appears the Tigers ought to own an advantage in terms of efficiency in the ground game. Their backfield has generated 6.8 yards per carry while their defense has allowed a YPC of 2.4 to opponents. The Fighting Irish have tallied 4.6 yards per carry while allowing 3.7 YPC to opponents.

The Irish offense has logged 265.6 yards per contest through the air overall and has 23 passing TDs so far. The Tigers have produced 270.1 pass yards per contest and have 31 total pass scores.

Defensively, Notre Dame has allowed opponents to rush for an average of 133.5 yards and pass for 198.0 yards per game. The Clemson defense has allowed 183.8 yards per game to opposing passers and 92.9 yards per game on the ground. The Irish are allowing an adjusted net yards per pass attempt (ANY/A) of only 3.70 to opponents, while the Tigers have given up a 4.56 ANY/A.

Lawrence has managed to complete 185-of-290 passes for 2,213 yards, 23 TDs and four INTs. Lawrence’s adjusted net yards per pass attempt sits at 8.20 for the year and 9.26 across his past two outings. In the other huddle, Book is up to 2,176 passing yards on the year, and has completed 174-of-243 attempts with 17 passing touchdowns and only five interceptions. Book has an 8.79 ANY/A, including 7.75 over the last two games.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Clemson Tigers Free Prediction

SU Winner: Clemson, ATS Winner: Clemson, O/U: Over

Team Betting Trends

  • The Clemson defensive unit has sacked opposing QBs 46 times this season. Notre Dame has produced just 31 sacks.
  • The Clemson offense has lost eight fumbles this season while the Notre Dame offense has lost three.
  • The Fighting Irish offense has recorded seven pass plays of 40 or more yards, while the Tigers have put up 18 such plays.
  • The Notre Dame defense has allowed three pass plays of 40 yards or more, while Clemson has given up eight such plays.
  • The Notre Dame offense has created 21 rushing plays of 20 or more yards, while Clemson has created 40 such runs.
  • The Fighting Irish defense has allowed nine rushing plays of 20 or more yards, while the Tigers have given up 16 such runs.
  • Notre Dame has rushed for 5.6 yards per attempt over its past three games and 4.4 over its last two.
  • Clemson has averaged 6.8 yards per carry over its last three contests and 7.2 over its past two.