December 4, 2018
Looking at Clemson-Notre Dame matchup in Cotton BowlBY GRACE RAYNOR
Notre Dame strengths
› Like Clemson, Notre Dame made a midseason quarterback switch this season, and it made all the difference. Ian Book has the keys to this offense, and like Clemson freshman Trevor Lawrence, the junior is known for his arm. Whereas Lawrence averages 207.3 yards per game through the air, Book averages 224.4 and has thrown for 2,468 yards with 19 touchdowns. Having earned the starting role in mid-September, Book is settled, acclimated and comfortable. Additionally, the Fighting Irish still have the quarterback whom Book replaced, Brandon Wimbush. Wimbush is still at Notre Dame to help in a pinch. Kelly Bryant, Lawrence’s predecessor, is not.
› In terms of a rushing attack, the Fighting Irish have Dexter Williams, who is approaching 1,000 yards for the season despite only playing in eight games. He has 941 rushing yards and averages 117.6 per game.
› Last but not least, Notre Dame has the nation’s No. 21 defense. The Irish are ninth in scoring defense.
Notre Dame weaknesses
College Football Playoff teams don’t tend to have many weaknesses, but there are two areas where the Irish have looked vulnerable: the defense has struggled on third down, and the offense has just one running threat.
› Clemson has had its share of issues on third down this season, but Notre Dame’s thirddown defense has some holes despite the entire body of work being fairly stout all year. The Fighting Irish’s defense ranks No. 58 on third-down conversions.