Clemson-Notre Dame Betting Guide: Can Irish Exploit Tigers’ One Flaw in College Football Playoff?

Dec 29, 2018 04:30 PM EST

USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book and Clemson running back Travis Etienne

2018 College Football Playoff Betting Odds, Pick: Clemson-Notre Dame

  • Odds: Clemson -10.5
  • Over/Under: 57.5
  • Date: Saturday, Dec. 29
  • Location: Arlington, Texas
  • Time: 4 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN

>> All odds as of Saturday at 4 p.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time bowl odds and win probabilities on your bets

Clemson is exactly where we expected it to be — in the College Football Playoff after rolling through most of its ACC schedule behind an elite defense and running game. It did make a quarterback change to the more explosive passer in Trevor Lawrence, hoping to avoid the same fate it did against Alabama in last year’s CFP.

Notre Dame surprised some folks by running the table and also made a much needed change at quarterback as well, going away from run-first Brandon Wimbush to a more dynamic passer in Ian Book.

Both teams are balanced — Clemson has a top-10 offense and defense, per S&P+, while Notre Dame’s defense is No. 4 and offense is No. 26.

Are the Irish being disrespected by this point spread, or is it about right? Let’s dive in.

How Odds Moved for Notre Dame-Clemson

By Danny Donahue

Clemson is in unfamiliar territory this Saturday, currently drawing just 29% of bettors to its double-digit spread. Despite the lack of support, however, this margin has widened since opening at -10.5.

Up to as much as -13.5 for a significant period of time, the line’s latest fall to -12.5 seems to have been correlated with the suspension of Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence.

As for the total, it has risen from 55 to 56.5 thanks to 93% of money landing on the over from 76% of bets.

Trends to Know

By John Ewing

— Since 2005, Notre Dame is 8-5 against the spread (ATS) when getting 10 or more points but 0-1 ATS in bowl games.

— Dabo Swinney is 71-3 straight up (SU) when favored by double-digits but only 37-36-1 ATS in those games.

— Against top 10 teams, Swinney is 12-4 ATS.

Did You Know?

By Evan Abrams

— AT&T Stadium has presented us with some thrilling college football bowl games. But since 2005, 32 games have been played at AT&T Stadium with an over/under of 50 or more, and the under is 20-12 (62.5%). The under is 6-2 in the last two bowl seasons in this spot.

— Clemson and Notre Dame face off in the CFP semifinal both undefeated with a chance to go to the national title game. Since 2005, this will be the sixth showdown in December or later of two undefeated FBS teams and the first since the Auburn-Oregon 2011 national title game.

In the previous five games, the underdog is 4-1 SU and ATS, covering by 7.9 PPG with the largest three underdogs winning outright.

Lawrence Suspension Not Worth Much

By Steve Petrella

Both teams are relatively healthy for this game, but Clemson will be without one of its best defensive lineman because of a failed drug test.

Dexter Lawrence is among the Tigers’ best run stuffers, with 7.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks this season. He’s a projected first-round pick.

But Clemson has depth on the defensive line, including senior Albert Huggins (2.5 sacks on 20% of Lawrence’s snaps) and Xavier Thomas, a top-five recruit from last year’s class.

If you already like Clemson, don’t let this suspension scare you.

Clemson Has Historically Great Run Defense

By Stuckey

Clemson averages an NCAA-best 6.8 yards per rush. Notre Dame is at only 4.5 yards per rush, which is 55th in the country. Amazingly, Clemson also leads the nation in yards per rush allowed at 2.4, while Notre Dame is a respectable 34th (3.7).

Just how good is 2.4 yards per rush? Here are the teams that allowed fewer than 2.4 yards over the course of a season in the past 10 years:

  • 2016 Alabama (2.0)
  • 2009 Texas (2.2)

Yup, that’s it. Clemson’s rush defense ranks in the top three in overall S&P+ Defense (1), Rush Efficiency (3), Rush Explosiveness (1), Opportunity Rate (1) and Stuff Rate (3). That spells potential disaster against a Notre Dame offense that ranks 116th in Opportunity Rate and 118th in Stuff Rate.

I don’t expect Notre Dame to do much on the ground, other than utilize it to keep the Clemson defense honest and setup play action. This game will be up to Ian Book and the passing game.

The good news is Notre Dame can protect the quarterback (No. 12 in Adjusted Sack Rate on Passing Downs), which is critical against an elite Clemson pass rush that ranks No. 9 in that same category.

Book Has Been Among Nation’s Best

By Steve Petrella


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