College Football Odds & Pick for Clemson vs. Notre Dame: Don’t Bet the Tigers
Quinn Harris/Getty Images. Pictured: Brian Kelly and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Clemson vs. Notre Dame Betting Odds
|Clemson Odds||-5 [BET NOW]|
|Notre Dame Odds||+5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-215/+175 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||50 [BET NOW]|
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
Trevor Lawrence missed the Boston College game with a positive COVID-19 test, thrusting DJ Uiagalelei into the starting quarterback role. While the betting market adjusted Clemson six points of power rating, Uiagalelei showed plenty of positives as a first-time starter. Clemson went 41% in passing downs and 50% in passing plays — both well above the national average. Seven passes exceeded 15 yards as Clemson put up a monster 73% in possessions with two-plus first downs.
Loved this throw from DJ Uiagalelei on Saturday. Back shoulder laser. One of the most impressive 8-yard passes you’ll ever see from a freshman QB. Tremendous catch by Amari Rodgers as well. Unbelievable body control. pic.twitter.com/V21KgfL9bS
— Austin Pendergist (@apthirteen) November 3, 2020
The Tigers defense needed a halftime wake-up call to secure the victory over the Eagles. After throwing multiple explosive passes in touchdown drives, Phil Jurkovec and the Boston College offense were shut out in the second half. Now, the Tigers must deal with a slew of injuries on the defensive side of the ball.
Clemson officially down two starters on defense who had been potential returnees this weekend. Middle linebacker James Skalski already out. https://t.co/NXSjh47hgR
— Pete Sampson (@PeteSampson_) November 4, 2020
James Skalski ranks fourth on the team in tackles, but his real worth came in pass defense as the second-highest graded coverage player, per Pro Football Focus.
The highest-graded coverage player for Clemson was linebacker Mike Jones, who will also miss the game against the Fighting Irish. The two starters had combined for just one sack and six hurries but allowed only 31 YACs on 15 opponent targets. All-ACC defensive end Xavier Thomas will sit the first half for a targeting penalty against Boston College.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Brian Kelly may be fielding the best defensive unit during his tenure in South Bend.
Defensive coordinator Clark Lea has been fantastic since the departure of Mike Elko to Texas A&M. Notre Dame is in the top 10 in plenty of defensive categories that matter, including Success Rate, Havoc, Finishing Drives and coverage. Experience may be an additional factor in this game, as this Irish group of defenders lost to Clemson in the Playoff semifinals in 2019 and led the cover against Georgia in 2019.
Notre Dame LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (6) got praise for his big hits on Saturday, but his ability to cover ground might be more impressive. pic.twitter.com/lzhvNK860n
— Matt Freeman (@mattfreemanISD) October 13, 2020
The offense has been under first-year offensive coordinator Tommy Rees, who has elected to utilize a rush-heavy offense. A near 68% run rate through the season has essentially kept quarterback Ian Book off tape for opponents to study. The question remains whether or not Notre Dame has done this by design leading up to Clemson, or if there is no faith in a receiving corps that lost Chase Claypool and needed answers for Book.
In limited passing attempts, the Irish ranks 33rd in Passing Success Rate, led by tight end Michael Mayer’s seven avoided tackles after the catch and wide receiver Javon McKinley’s 18.9 yards per reception.
Betting Analysis & Pick
The national narrative is that Notre Dame has been abysmal against top-10 competition. The Brian Kelly era may lack straight-up victories over the top teams in the nation, but backing the Irish has been profitable. Per Bet Labs, Notre Dame is 8-3 against the spread against top-10 teams since 2010 when listed as an underdog.
With Clemson sporting so many losses on the defense, it’s expected that Notre Dame can find some offensive success from the start. The most explosive passing attempts have come from the backfield, as Jafar Armstrong has averaged 16.7 YACs on three receptions. If Rees has held back in the passing game, the Tigers may be ripe in giving up explosive plays through the air.
The coverage ranks from PFF have Notre Dame and Clemson as top-eight programs in the country in defending the pass. This could force Uiagalelei and Ian Book to leave the pocket more than usual or lean on passes to weapons out of the backfield.
Each team ranks top-15 in special teams, which will lead to excellent starting field positions for the defense. The team that can sustain drives and convert scoring opportunities will win. The Irish should have the upper hand in the first half, and with a change in rush rate from Rees, Notre Dame has a chance to pull of the upset.
Pick: Notre Dame +3 First Half; Notre Dame +5.5 or better