Why Notre Dame Will Win The Cotton Bowl
– Is the Clemson secondary suddenly an issue? There were only two close calls this season for the Tigers. The first was the 28-26 win at Texas A&M, with the Clemson pass defense getting hit by Kellen Mond and company for 430 yards and three scores. The Tiger pass rush worked, and it didn’t matter.
Syracuse almost came up with the stunner in Death Valley with its 250 yards, and South Carolina’s Jake Bentley fired at will for an O that put up 510 yards and five touchdowns. Again, the Tiger pass rush worked, and it didn’t matter.
Notre Dame can and must run the ball, but this could be the game for Ian Book to shine. He has to.
– The Notre Dame secondary has been amazing. Julian Love and the defensive backs will give up plenty of yards, but they tighten up when they have to. The Irish have faced Michigan’s Shea Patterson, Vanderbilt’s Kyle Shurmur, Stanford’s KJ Costello, Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson, and a slew of other strong passers, and allowed just seven touchdown passes with 12 picks on the season.
Notre Dame gave up two scoring throws to Virginia Tech, and no more than one to anyone else with just two allowed over the last six games. The Irish finished third in the nation in pass efficiency defense.
– It might seem cornball, but it matters. This team has the disrespected swag going for it. Notre Dame is a massive underdog, its the one team out of the College Football Playoff four that isn’t being seriously considered by Vegas – or the pundits – to actually win the national title, and for good reason.
Yeah, the Irish are 12-0, but they didn’t play a conference championship, sputtered too much against mediocre teams – especially early on – and … whatever. This is a talented team that has the scheme, the attitude, and from all indications, the focus. If it’s possible to quantify something like this in a game of this magnitude, the pressure is all on the other side.