Why Clemson Will Win The Cotton Bowl
– The amazing defensive front full of NFL talent hasn’t always been impenetrable, but it hasn’t been all that far off. The run defense allows just 2.4 yards per carry, and only two teams were able to run for more than 150 yards on it, including Georgia Tech and Texas A&M. Wake Forest ran for 175 yards – and lost 63-3. Pitt ran for 191 in the ACC Championship – and got rolled 42-10.
Notre Dame might not have do dominate on the ground to win, but it’ll be in big, big, big trouble if it can’t. To do the comparison thing, the Irish were held to just 80 rushing yards in the 19-14 win over Pitt. Clemson ran for 301 on the Panthers.
– That defensive front lives behind the line. The Tigers finished third in the nation in sacks, second in tackles for loss, and it’s relentless. The Notre Dame offensive line has been excellent, but it’ll give up plays in the backfield – Clemson will take them, coming up with nine or more tackles for loss in nine of the 13 games.
28 Tiger defenders are on the tackle for loss board for the D that starts with Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins and Austin Bryant, and just keeps on coming. Out of all of the parts on this Clemson team, it’s the front four that’s on the biggest mission – and it’s about to show.
– Yeah, the Clemson running game. The run defense is the star, and Trevor Lawrence and the passing attack owns the spotlight, but Travis Etienne and the running game have been unstoppable.
The offensive line has been a dominant force all year long, paving the way for 240 yards or more eight times, rolled for over 400 yards twice, and ran for 652 combined yards in the last two games against South Carolina and Pitt. the Notre Dame run defense has been a rock, but now it has to deal with a rested group of Tiger blockers.