Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs Clemson Tigers Prediction for December 29th

By Rick Rockwell in NCAAF on December 26, 2018

On Saturday, the first of the two College Football Playoff semifinal games will feature two unbeaten teams as the #3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish take on the #2 Clemson Tigers. Both teams have strong offenses and solid defenses.

Additionally, each team has playmakers on both sides of the ball. With so much talent on the field, it’s a surprise at how large of a spread this game is.

Can the Fighting Irish pull off the upset or will Clemson return to the national title game? Kickoff inside AT&T Stadium is at 4 PM ET.

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Notre Dame vs Clemson Live Odds and Betting History

The following odds are courtesy of live odds feed:

Betting Data Notre Dame Fighting Irish Clemson Tigers
Current S/U record 12-0 13-0
2018 Home 7-0 7-0
2018 Away 5-0 6-0
2018 ATS 6-5-1 7-6
2018 ATS Home 4-3 2-5
2018 ATS Away 2-2-1 5-1
2018 O/U 6-6 6-7
2018 O/U Home 2-5 2-5
2018 O/U Away 4-1 4-2

Notre Dame vs Clemson CFP Game Preview

Notre Dame and Clemson have only played against each other three times. Clemson holds the advantage with a 2-1 record and have won two straight games.

The last time these football programs played against each other was in 2014 and Clemson won at home over Notre Dame 24 to 22. They have never played against each other in a bowl game before.

Notre Dame (12-0) has earned their first appearance in the CFP largely due to beating 4 ranked opponents this year and playing a tough overall schedule. With that said, the biggest reason why they are even in this game is due to the QB switch from Wimbush to Ian Book.

Since the Week 4 QB switch, Notre Dame has looked like a college football powerhouse than can hang with any team in the nation.

Clemson (13-0) is once again looking to make another trip to the national title game. This is their 4th straight CFP appearance out of 5 years in this current playoff format.

Like Notre Dame, Clemson also had a QB controversy after they switched from Kelly Bryant to Trevor Lawrence. And, also like Notre Dame, Clemson’s offense became even better with the QB switch. Will the Tigers play for another national title or will they fall short against the Fighting Irish?

The spread for this game opened up between 13 and 14 points in favor of Clemson. Since then, most online betting sites lowered that number to 12.5 points in favor of Clemson. The Over/Under opened at 55.5 to 56 points with most college football betting sites. That number has come down slightly to 55 total points with most NCAAF sportsbooks.

Free CFP Sports Bet and Game Prediction

This game is like a battle of “what you can do, I can do better.” Notre Dame has a really good offense that averages 33.8 ppg, 456.1 total ypg, 265.6 passing ypg and 190.5 rushing ypg. Yet, Clemson is better. The Tigers average 45.4 ppg, 529.8 total ypg, 270.1 passing ypg, and 259.8 rushing ypg. Clemson’s rushing attack is 5th in the nation, their total yards is 5th and their scoring average is 5th in the nation.

Defensively, Notre Dame allows 17.3 ppg which is good for 10th in the country. However, Clemson is 2nd as they only allow 13.7 ppg. ND’s total yards allowed of 331.5 ypg is 20th, but Clemson’s 276.7 ypg is the 4th best. ND has the 36th ranked passing defense at 198 ypg and Clemson has the 18th at 183.8 ypg.

Lastly, ND allows 133.5 ypg on the ground, which is good for 33rd in the country. And, once again, Clemson’s defense allows only 92.9 rushing ypg, which is good for 3rd in the nation.

With that said, I like Notre Dame to cover this spread. Since Ian Book has taken over, he’s thrown for 2,468 yards, 19 TDs and just 6 picks. He also has 4 rushing TDs and 250 rushing yards. The offense is more explosive and they started beating opponents by an average of 18+ ppg.

Also, Notre Dame’s top running back Dexter Williams is a force in the backfield. Williams missed the first 4 games of the season, but has gone on to tally 941 rushing yards and 12 rushing TDs this season. He also had 104 receiving yards and 1 TD catch.

Clemson also has a stellar running game as Etienne has rushed for 1,463 yards and 21 TDs on the year. QB Trevor Lawrence has also performed well in a less than full season with 2,606 passing yards, 24 TDs and 4 INTs.

Clemson allowed South Carolina’s Bentley to throw for 510 yards and 5 TDs. Texas A&M QB Mond also put up 430 yards and 3 TDs. So, this great defense is susceptible to big passing performances and Ian Book definitely fits the bill here.

I think Ian Book will play a great football game and Notre Dame will stay within one score until the final whistle. I like the Fighting Irish to cover the double digit spread as I think they have a good enough defense to accomplish this. Also, Book has a good backfield mate in Williams who can dominate a game if Clemson doesn’t stay consistent against the run.

With a month to prepare for this game, I feel that Notre Dame covering 12.5 points is the smart bet. They’re 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS when playing after a Bye Week. Clemson is 2-2 ATS after a Bye. ND is 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS versus the ACC this year.

As an underdog, Notre Dame was 1-0 ATS this year. Clemson was 7-6 ATS as a favorite this year and 20-16 ATS as the favorite over the last 3 years. Lastly, Notre Dame was 4-0 ATS when playing against teams with winning records, while Clemson was 5-3 ATS.

If you aren’t comfortable with Notre Dame covering the 12.5 points, then consider taking the Over. These two teams combined to average 79.2 ppg. Furthermore, when away from home, the Over is 4-1 for ND and 4-2 for Clemson.

My prediction: Clemson’s defense comes up with a key stop late in the game to win 33 to 27.

Notre Dame vs Clemson Betting Recap:

  • Oddsmaker: BetOnline
  • Moneylines: Notre Dame (+365) and Clemson (-435)
  • Spread: Clemson -12.5 (-108)
  • Over/Under: 55 total points (-110)
  • Prediction: Clemson 33 – Notre Dame 27
Pick: Notre Dame +12.5
-112

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Rick Rockwell

As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site.

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