Clemson football is trying to avoid a third straight loss in Week 10 when it hosts No. 12 Notre Dame at Memorial Stadium.
The Tigers (4-4) haven’t lost three consecutive games since 2010. Meanwhile, the Fighting Irish (6-2) are looking to make it three straight wins after beating Southern Cal and Pittsburgh in the previous two weeks.
Here’s what to know about Notre Dame before kickoff Saturday (noon ET, ABC) and our score prediction for the game.
Notre Dame quarterback Sam Hartman
Clemson is quite familiar with Notre Dame quarterback Sam Hartman. The sixth-year transfer spent his first five seasons at Wake Forest, where he played against Clemson four times. He and the Demon Deacons didn’t beat the Tigers during that time, but last season, they took Clemson to double overtime. Hartman threw for 337 yards and six touchdowns.
For the Fighting Irish this season, Hartman has 2,126 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and five interceptions.
“That guy shouldn’t be playing college football; he’s a pro,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Tuesday. “He is smooth, he’s poised, he’s very confident, and he doesn’t flinch.”
Why Notre Dame’s defense is dangerous
Notre Dame could take serious advantage of Clemson’s biggest offensive weakness: turnovers. The Fighting Irish defense is tied for first nationally in defensive touchdowns with four. Two interceptions were returned for a touchdown, and two were fumble recoveries.
Considering Clemson is second in the country in most fumbles lost (10), Notre Dame could exploit that problem.
Quarterback Cade Klubnik has five interceptions this season, which is around the middle of the pack of ACC passers. But he’s thrown three in his past two games, including a two-pick performance against NC State last week. Against the nation’s leader in interceptions, that could be a problem. Notre Dame defensive back Xavier Watts ranks No. 1 in the country with six interceptions this season, helping the Fighting Irish to a total of 13. That’s the third-most in the nation.
Audric Estimé vs. Clemson’s run defense
Notre Dame running back Audric Estimé is one of 17 players in the country with at least 100 rushing yards per game. The junior has 901 yards this season, and his 12 rushing touchdowns are tied for fourth-most nationally.
Clemson’s defense has been solid against the run. The Tigers are No. 16 in the country in rushing yards per game allowed (99.13) and yards allowed per carry (3.13). How Clemson manages to contain Estimé will be a matchup to watch.
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Clemson score prediction vs Notre Dame
Notre Dame 31, Clemson 24: Clemson’s defense will hold Notre Dame under its 38 point-per-game average, but the Fighting Irish will take advantage of the Tigers’ offensive struggles to beat them for a second straight year.