College Football Picks: Notre Dame vs. Clemson Predictions

David Lawrence

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 11:38 AM GMT

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Clemson Tigers are playing in one of the two biggest games of the week, the other one being the Alabama-Georgia game. The winner takes a really big step forward in the fight for a College Football Playoff spot, while the loser absorbs a damaging blow in that same chase. These teams are both playing great defense, but Notre Dame has a lot of injuries and might not be equipped to deal with any more in-game adversity here. Will that matter or not? It’s probably the biggest question a bettor has to answer, other than one other specific question.

Momentum
The Fighting Irish sailed past Massachusetts last week in a cupcake game. The bigger recent game for Notre Dame was the win over Georgia Tech a few weeks earlier. Notre Dame’s defensive line pounded Georgia Tech’s offensive line and demonstrated just how physical it can be. The Fighting Irish allowed only seven points to an offense which became extremely potent late in the 2014 season. If that same level of defensive might shows up this week against Clemson, the Fighting Irish should be in very good shape. They will count on their defense to win this game so that young backup quarterback DeShone Kizer doesn’t have to do anything more than he absolutely has to.

Clemson is coming off a bye week. The Tigers will not have played in 16 days when they take the field here. They will be rested, and they will be equipped with a lot of film study of the Irish. How their coaching staff handles preparation will be important, but the number one thing is how quarterback Deshaun Watson plays. Watson was an elite player last year when he was healthy. He just didn’t stay healthy for long. He has not been great this season. Clemson will need him to be great here.

 

Line Moves
The college football odds started at minus-2 points for Clemson but is now a pick ‘em game. Bettors are rightly impressed with Notre Dame’s strength up front on both offense and defense, which simplifies the game for both the quarterback and the secondary and has enabled the Irish to be very effective despite tons of injuries. Bettors are also uncertain about whether Watson will play well here or not. If Clemson’s offensive line gets destroyed, he might not have the ability to win this game for Clemson.

Notable Injuries
Notre Dame suffered a number of injuries before the season even began – those won’t be listed here, but injuries suffered after week one of the season will be listed here (to the extent that they affect Saturday’s roster composition for the Irish).

Wide receiver Corey Robinson is probable for this game with a knee injury. Tight end Tyler Luatua is out indefinitely with a concussion. Defensive back Avery Sebastian is questionable for this game with a foot injury. Defensive end Jay Hayes is questionable due to a lingering suspension that might or might not be lifted in time for kickoff. Running back Tarean Folston is out for the season with a knee injury. Defensive back Drue Tranquil is out for the season with an ACL injury. Tight end Durham Smythe is out for the season with a shoulder injury. Original starting quarterback Malik Zaire is out for the season with an ankle injury.

Clemson has wide receiver Mike Williams out indefinitely with a neck injury. Kicker Ammon Lakip should be cleared to play after serving a three-game suspension. Offensive lineman Ryan Norton is questionable for this game with a leg injury. 

 

Handicapping The Game
The feeling here is that Watson will play well enough, and get just enough time from his offensive line, to win the game. Take Clemson with your college football picks.

Free College Football Pick: Clemson PK at BetOnline

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