Expert Cappers Picks
College Football
Notre Dame vs Clemson
When: 4:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 29, 2018
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas


1. Clemson will play in the College Football Playoff for the fourth consecutive season when the second-seeded Tigers face No. 3 Notre Dame in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic on Dec. 29 in Arlington, Texas. The Tigers are 3-2 in the College Football Playoff over the past three years, including a national title in 2016 and a 24-6 loss to Alabama in last year’s semifinal. The Fighting Irish are making their first appearance in the four-team playoff, which was instituted in 2014.

2. Clemson’s offense thrives on big plays, while Notre Dame’s defense has been one of the nation’s best at preventing them. The Tigers rank in the top five nationally in plays of 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 yards, including 90 plays of 20 yards or more and 19 of 50 yards or more. The Fighting Irish rank in the top 10 defensively in all those categories and have given up only nine plays of 60 yards or more, the fewest in the nation.

3. Two of the country’s top running backs will be on display with Clemson’s Travis Etienne and Notre Dame’s Dexter Williams. Etienne (1,434 yards, 21 touchdowns) averages 8.31 yards per carry and has topped 150 yards in six games this season. Williams was suspended for the first four games of the season but has averaged 117.6 rushing yards in eight games since while scoring 12 of his 13 touchdowns on the ground.

TV: 4 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Clemson -13.5

ABOUT NOTRE DAME (12-0): The Fighting Irish survived the regular season unscathed, but had five games decided by eight points or fewer and played only three ranked teams in the latest Top 25. Notre Dame’s offense is not elite, but Williams provides a strong runner to complement quarterback Ian Book, who has passed for 2,468 yards with 19 touchdowns and six interceptions and has thrown at least two touchdowns in all eight games since taking over the starting role. The defense, on the other hand, is led by a dominant line and has produced 20 takeaways.

ABOUT CLEMSON (13-0): The Tigers might be the most well-rounded team in the country, as they rank fifth nationally in total offense and scoring, second in scoring defense, and sixth in total defense. Etienne and freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence (2,606 passing yards, 24 TDs, 4 INTs) have put up big numbers, and 10 players have caught a touchdown pass. Clemson’s defense has been a wrecking crew, racking up 121 tackles for loss and 46 sacks with end Clelin Ferrell (17 tackles for loss, 10 1/2 sacks) leading the way.

PREDICTION: Clemson 34, Notre Dame 20

Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W‑L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf Conf
Notre Dame 12-0 W12 33.8 17.2 7-0 5-0 5-0 0-0 0-0
Clemson 13-0 W13 45.4 13.7 7-0 6-0 11-0 0-0 9-0
Last Meeting
Notre Dame Clemson
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
10/3/15 ND 22 CLEM 24 432 111 321 301 217 84
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Notre Dame D. Kizer 55.9 321 2 1
Clemson D. Watson 47.6 84 2 1
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Notre Dame D. Kizer 14 55 3.9 1
Clemson W. Gallman 23 111 4.8 0
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Notre Dame C. Prosise 4 100 25.0 1
Clemson A. Scott 5 43 8.6 1
Touchdowns Player TD
Notre Dame T. Hunter Jr. 1
Clemson J. Leggett 1
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Notre Dame I. Book 70.4 2468 19 6
Clemson T. Lawrence 64.8 2606 24 4
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Notre Dame D. Williams 142 941 6.6 12
Clemson T. Etienne 176 1464 8.3 21
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Notre Dame M. Boykin 54 803 14.9 8
Clemson T. Higgins 52 802 15.4 10
Touchdowns Player TD
Notre Dame D. Williams 13
Clemson T. Etienne 22
Quickchart Matchup
Notre Dame Notre Dame Off vs  Clemson Clemson Def
Notre Dame 456.4 yards
Clemson 283.2 yards
Notre Dame 4.6 yards/rush
Clemson 2.6 yards/rush
Notre Dame 8.3 yards/attempt
Clemson 6.3 yards/attempt
Clemson Clemson Off vs  Notre Dame Notre Dame Def
Clemson 530.8 yards
Notre Dame 331.5 yards
Clemson 6.8 yards/rush
Notre Dame 3.7 yards/rush
Clemson 8.1 yards/attempt
Notre Dame 5.4 yards/attempt