You’ve Read This Far, So You Get Three Honest Thoughts On The Orange Bowl
– If Notre Dame wins this, it’ll be because of Ian Book. The Tigers have had a month to work on keeping Dexter Williams and the Irish running game from going off, but if Book is deadly accurate, and if he can handle the pressure that’s about to come his way, the Irish offense can work. The offense has to open it up. It has to get hot from the start, and it has be fearless against this Tiger secondary. Book needs to be around 70% for well over 250 yards with just one pick or fewer. If he’s not, forget it.
– This is it for the Dabo Swinney call of replacing Kelly Bryant as the starter for Trevor Lawrence in late September. The whole idea was 1) that Lawrence was going to be the franchise, and he needed as many reps as possible, and 2) the offense was going to need the upgrade. Bryant, now a Missouri Tiger, was fantastic, and he likely would’ve been able to lead this loaded team to this spot, too. If the Clemson offense struggles, or if Lawrence is awful and the Tigers lose, you know exactly what the second-guessing is going to focus on.
But against a team like Notre Dame, and if it all works, against Alabama or Oklahoma, Clemson needed more pop from the quarterback position. Lawrence is the absolute real deal, but he is still just a freshman with nine starts under his belt. However, Notre Dame QB Ian Book has less than a full year of starting experience, too.
– Why is Dabo, Dabo? Recruiting helps, and he’s a heck of a coach, but he’s figure out bowl games. After starting out 2-3 in them – bottoming out in the brutal 70-33 loss to West Virginia in the 2012 Orange – he has gone 6-2 including the College Football Playoff games. The two losses? One national championship to Alabama, and last year’s Sugar to the Crimson Tide in the CFP semifinals. That’s been it for seven years.
But Brian Kelly – at least lately – has been strong in the bowls, too. Notre Dame went from the 1995 Fiesta against Colorado to the 2007 Sugar against LSU – a span of nine bowls – without a win. After getting rolled by Alabama in the 2013 BCS Championship, Kelly has gone 3-1, but it took something epic to get past LSU in the 2014 Music City and Michigan in the 2018 Citrus.
Super. So Who’s Going To Win The Orange Bowl?
How does Notre Dame win this?
It’ll need a whole lot of luck, and to be brutal about it, needs Trevor Lawrence to get hurt or be miserable. Other than that, Clemson has the lines, the want-to, and the versatility to win this in a variety of ways.
The Irish have to pitch a perfect game on both sides of the ball, but in the end, the Tiger lines will win this. Travis Etienne with outgain Dexter Williams, the Clemson defensive front will finish with ten tackles for loss, and it’ll be off to Santa Clara for a shot at a second national title in three years.
Fearless Prediction & Line
Clemson 35, Notre Dame 24
Line: Clemson -13, o/u: 55
ATS Confidence: 1.5
– CFN Confidence Pool
5: Being in the bar already
0: Watching ball drop … and then trying to get into the bar
Must See Rating: 5
5: New Year’s Eve: Ministry of Sound, London
1: New Year’s Eve: Times Square, New York