Staff Picks

Irish Illustrated’s staff gives its predictions for Saturday evening’s matchup against the Clemson Tigers in Memorial Stadium.

With Tim Prister’s weekly game preview still to come, the rest of the Irish Illustrated staff offers a few thoughts on this week’s prime time matchup against No. 12 Clemson in Death Valley.

Pete Sampson

I expect Notre Dame to win both lines of scrimmage, which should put the Irish in position for a marquee road victory. The hesitation hinges on DeShone Kizer, the Irish defense and Justin Yoon. Kizer has the mental makeup to handle the moment, but the issue is Clemson’s talented defense. Notre Dame’s defense has been too inconsistent to bank on a sharp performance, at least in the secondary. The biggest question is Yoon, who’s already missed four kicks. Notre Dame is good enough to win, maybe comfortably. But like those losses at Michigan earlier in the Brian Kelly era, it’s going to be maddening when the Irish don’t.

Clemson 28 Notre Dame 20
2015 Prediction Record: 4-0

Tim O'Malley

I’m concerned about DeShone Kizer facing the best defense he’s seen in his life, and in the toughest environment he’s encountered to boot. And I’m concerned about Notre Dame’s kicking game because, well, Justin Yoon spent September missing a kick per contest. And I’m concerned that four of Notre Dame’s six lost starters (Malik Zaire, Jarron Jones, Shaun Crawford, and Drue Tranquill) will be sorely missed for the first time this season.

But as long as Notre Dame’s remaining talent corps remains in good health, i.e., the offensive line, C.J. Prosise, Will Fuller, Jaylon Smith, Joe Schmidt, Sheldon Day, and Isaac Rochell, I’m not picking against the Irish.

Notre Dame 24 Clemson 20
2015 Prediction Record: 3-1

Jack Freeman

Clemson has the best run defense that Notre Dame has faced all year. And oh yeah Notre Dame’s offensive line is the best that Clemson defense has faced. So there you have it a game that will be dictated by who wins in the trenches. If Clemson can’t control the Irish ground attack they will be in for a long afternoon of Prosise.

If Clemson makes the Irish one-dimensional and too reliant on Kizer to pass them to victory, the Tigers will win the game. The key is to lessen the exposure of the shaky Irish secondary by controlling the game with the Irish ground attack. I’m putting my money on the Irish offensive line to carry Notre Dame to victory.

Notre Dame 24 Clemson 21
2015 Prediction Record: 3-1

Steve Hare

Can DeShone Kizer handle the pressure of playing Death Valley? We'll find out on Saturday night. Kizer will face the nation's ninth best defense, which allows just 260.7 yards per game. Fortunately, he's got the nation's 15th--best offense at his disposal and a running attack that ranks 12th in the country. Clemson's offense has managed just 1,326 yards (5.89 per play) in its three games, despite playing two patsies and a 1-3 Louisville squad.
Notre Dame's defense can't allow Deshaun Watson and the Tigers break out this weekend.

Notre Dame 27 Clemson 21
2015 Prediction Record: 4-0

Jake Brown

I’m expecting this one to live up to the hype. Night games at Death Valley should be that way, right? Notre Dame will go toe-to-toe with Clemson on its home field. But while much has been made of a talent disparity favoring the Irish, it's hard to go against a home team that faces a young quarterback making his first start on the road. Clemson – close.

Clemson 28 Notre Dame 27
2015 Prediction Record: 4-0

Anna Hickey

With so many matchups, individuals and statistics that have the potential to sway the game one way or the other on Saturday night, where do you look? Who dominates up front. Deshaun Watson’s good, but Clemson’s offensive line isn’t, and the lack of Mike Williams in the lineup is a major problem for what the Tigers like to do on offense.

You take a freshman quarterback and give him Death Valley at night against Brent Venables as his first road start, and there’s no way the offense gets the job done... unless you have the talent and cohesion of Notre Dame’s offensive line. Hiestand’s guys and C.J. Prosise set the tone for the night, then play-action pass and Will Fuller strike when it matters.

Notre Dame 28 Clemson 17
2015 Prediction Record: 4-0 Top Stories