“Short Texas”

College Football Semifinal

The Cotton Bowl

(3) Notre Dame Fighting Irish at (2) Clemson Tigers

Notre Dame: What a year it’s been in South Bend, Indiana. I really didn’t know what to think about them after the Michigan game in week one, but they followed a pattern. That win turned into another win, and another, then another. They finished the season with an undefeated record and here they are making their first appearance in the College Football Playoff. They deserve to be here with how they played this year. The resume they have has also been impressive with wins over Michigan, Stanford, Virginia Tech and Syracuse, all teams who were ranked at one point during the regular season. What about Ian Book? There was a lot of hype surrounding him and he’s yet to disappoint. Had Brian Kelly continued to stick with Brandon Wimbush, they’re playing in a New Year’s Six bowl. When Ian got the nod, the offense just gelled more. Now, they have an offense that can keep them in games and score 30 a contest. The defense has also been one of the best units in the country that many don’t talk about. They have talent all around with one guy who truly stands out to me, Mr. Jerry Tillery who’s an absolute force for this Irish defense. With a win at JerryWorld, they would advance to their first national title game since 2013 when they fell short to Alabama. In order to get to San Francisco, they will need to take on a dominant Clemson Tigers team.

Clemson: Here they are once again for the fourth straight season in the playoffs. The ACC is the Clemson Tigers, then everybody else at this point. Next to their title winning team a few years back with Deshaun Watson, this is by far the most complete team that Dabo Swinney has had in his tenure as the team’s coach. Speaking of the coach, Dabo had a tough decision to make at the beginning of the year. At first, he was playing two quarterbacks in the same game several times. With Kelly Bryant, the offense was average at best in my opinion. With Trevor Lawrence, they clicked better with him which made Dabo stick with Trevor for the rest of the season. Trevor entered the year with much hype surrounding him and he’s been worth the talk. He has a big arm, he can fling the ball down the field and the offense was more free flowing with him under center than it was Kelly. The offense is loaded with a ton of talent and when they decided to feed running back Travis Etienne the football, things opened up for the Tigers and they were blowing their opponents out Crimson Tide style along with showing that they were one of the most dominant teams in the nation. The talk of this team has been their defense with a defensive line that is loaded with NFL talent. Their defensive front can destroy an offensive gameplan in a half and when you prepare for them, you’re usually trying to figure out ways to limit them. They will look to get back to their third title game in four seasons.

Notre Dame Player To Watch: Miles Boykin– He’s a mismatch nightmare for any secondary to cover. He’s one of those possession receivers that you can just heave it up too and he’ll find a way to come down with it. He can line up in the slot, outside and he makes plays wherever he is. I see he and Chase Claypool making major impacts in this game.

Clemson Player To Watch: Isaiah Simmons– When you talk about this defensive front of the Clemson Tigers, the front four, of course, gets brought up. They have a pretty good linebacker in Simmons here. He can blitz, get after the quarterback and stop the run. He can also cover down the field in pass coverage.

Final Analysis: These two teams are mirror images of each other believe it or not. They’re both undefeated, both head coaches made the decisions to make changes at quarterback and both teams are physical with great defenses. It should call for a great game, right? This is going to be the best defense next to Michigan that the Fighting Irish will see all season long. Notre Dame has running back Dexter Williams, he will be the quickest running back Clemson has seen this year. Clemson at times has shown they are vulnerable in the secondary. Texas A&M attacked them back in September and in the season finale against South Carolina, Jake Bentley racked up 430 yards passing. Notre Dame has the offense to keep them in this game against Clemson. Ian Book is also another x-factor in this game with his ability to extend plays with his feet. Clemson must start early. Make Notre Dame work to get their yards and plays. For the Irish, they can’t allow Lawrence time in the pocket or it will be a very long day.

Prediction: Clemson 35 Notre Dame 27