Notre Dame vs. Clemson Odds & Betting Guide: Our Staff’s Picks for Saturday’s ACC Championship
Credit: Joe Robbins & Matthew Stockman/Getty Images. Pictured, from left: Ian Book (12) and Trevor Lawrence (16).
- The rematch we've been waiting for is finally here.
- The Clemson Tigers and Notre Dame Fighting Irish will meet in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Saturday with College Football Playoff spots on the line.
- With such a big game on the schedule, our staff broke down their favorite bets for the ACC Championship, including spread picks, moneyline bets, and two player props.
Notre Dame vs. Clemson Odds
We’ve been waiting weeks for this. Ever since Trevor Lawrence missed the initial Clemson-Notre Dame battle, the college football world has touched on every hypothetical for the eventual ACC Championship game.
Now, it’s here — and there’s a lot on the line.
If the Fighting Irish come out with a win, they will cement themselves as one of the top teams in the country along with Alabama while potentially knocking their conference rivals out of the College Football Playoff.
A win for the Tigers would firmly put them in the Playoff with a chance to compete for a national title for the sixth year in a row.
And there’s plenty of betting value.
With such a huge game on the schedule, our college football staff hand-picked six bets ahead of kickoff. Check out each pick complete with a full breakdown below.
Notre Dame vs. Clemson Staff Best Bets
Our college football staff broke down six bets for Saturday’s ACC Championship, featuring two plays on the Notre Dame point spread, two moneyline wagers on the Fighting Irish, and a collection of player props to round out the ACC Championship betting card.
Click on any of our staff’s picks in the table of contents below to skip to an individual author’s betting analysis.
by Pat McMahon
It’s no secret why Clemson is a double-digit favorite despite losing to the Irish in the regular season.
Trevor Lawrence and several key defensive players missed the first matchup due to COVID-19 issues in the program. Now Lawrence is back and the defense is close to full strength, and the Tigers need to win to get into the college football playoff.
Dabo Swiney and Trevor Lawrence with their backs against the wall in a must-win game — they should cruise, right?
Well, not so fast.
This Notre Dame team is for real, and as we saw in the regular-season game in South Bend, matches up well against the Tigers. The Irish defense is arguably the best in college football, and their success starts with the run-stuffing ability of their very talented front seven.
In South Bend, Notre Dame held Travis Etienne in check all night. Etienne had nowhere to go and posted just 1.5 yards per carry, and Clemson managed just 34 yards on the ground for the entire game.
Lawrence will likely be able to move the football against the Irish, but it will be tough to top DJ Uiagalelei’s performance (a Notre Dame opponent-record 439 yards passing) against the Irish. Notre Dame’s defense is incredible in the red zone and forced Clemson into kicking four field goals in the first matchup. If the Tigers can’t get Etienne going, they’ll have a tough time moving the ball again in a shortened field against the stout Irish defense.
On the other side of the ball, the Clemson defense is in for a big test against Ian Book and the Irish offense. Book has been sensational all season, leading one of the most balanced attacks in all of college football. The emergence of wide receivers Javon McKinley, Ben Skowronek and Avery Davis this season has done wonders for this offense and gives Book several reliable weapons on the outside.
Notre Dame was able to make several big plays in the passing game against Clemson the first time out and should be able to do so again with the offense humming and an extra week to prepare.
Notre Dame can move the football in multiple ways and have one of the most poised and consistent quarterbacks in the country. They might not need the win as badly as Clemson needs it, but the Irish have heard the talk that they can’t win with Lawrence on the field, and they’ll be just as motivated as the Tigers on Saturday.
This will be a hard-fought game that should go down to the wire, and this is too many points for a team as complete as the Irish are to be getting in this spot.
Ian Book has been even more efficient than last year, throwing for 8.3 yards per attempt. Of course, losing his top three pass-catchers from last year was always going to be difficult, but Notre Dame has a lot of talented players at the skill positions, which has made the transition seamless.
In the first meeting between these two teams, Book lit up the Clemson secondary for 310 yards on 39 pass attempts. The Clemson secondary is prone to giving up big plays in the passing game, as they are 84th in explosive passing allowed, per College Football Data.
The strength of the Fighting Irish offense lies in its running game. Notre Dame brought back all of its starters on the offensive line, and dual-threat running back in Kyren Williams has been a big problem for opposing defenses. Williams is already running the ball for 5.6 yards per carry and was a huge problem for Clemson’s defense in the first meeting, rushing for 140 yards and three touchdowns.
Clemson is fourth in defensive rushing success, but 70th in explosive rushing allowed, so don’t be surprised if Williams rips off a few big runs.
Obviously, Trevor Lawrence not being able to play in the teams’ first meeting makes a huge difference. He’s averaging his highest career yards per attempt, at 9.7, and already has 20 passing touchdowns compared to only three interceptions.
Notre Dame, on the other hand, has been solid versus the pass, allowing 6.8 yards per attempt and ranking 16th in defensive passing success.
Travis Etienne is actually having a down year by his standards. Last season, the senior averaged 7.8 yards per carry, but this year is only averaging 5.1. Notre Dame held him to only 28 yards rushing in the first meeting and is top five in stuff rate and defensive line yards, so I expect Etienne to struggle again on Saturday.
I only have Clemson projected as a 6.9-point favorite in the ACC Championship, so I think there is some value on Notre Dame at +10.5.
This is one of those bets that strictly comes down to the number and the most value. Let me be very clear, I think Clemson wins this game.
But do I think if they played 100 times Clemson would win more than 75 times? No.
The Notre Dame moneyline is currently listed around +300. That implies that Notre Dame only has a 25% chance of winning. That is way too low for a team that has already proven it can beat Clemson.
Everybody will point to Trevor Lawrence missing the first matchup, but DJ Uiagalelei is a five-star recruit who racked up 439 yards and two touchdowns.
Notre Dame has one of the best run defenses in the whole country and shut down Clemson star Travis Etienne, holding him to just 28 yards rushing. Clemson as a team only rushed for 34 total yards and was held to 1.0 yards per carry.
Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns against the Tigers defense, and quarterback Ian Book accounted for 310 yards passing and 67 yards rushing. Book has been playing the best football of his career of late and gives Notre Dame a chance to win every game it’s in.
These two teams match up very well and are very similar. Clemson ranks 22nd in offensive Success Rate and Notre Dame is 28th. Clemson is fourth in defensive Success Rate and Notre Dame is 10th.
You’re telling me Notre Dame only has a 25% chance of beating the team they have already proven they can beat?
I’ll take those odds.
Clemson has an offensive Predicted Points Added (PPA) per play of 0.29, which ranks them 16th in the nation. Defensively, the Tigers have a defensive PPA per play of 0.02, which is good for 10th.
On the other side, Notre Dame has an offensive PPA per play of 0.26, which ranks 20th in the country, and a defensive PPA per play of 0.03, which ranks 12th.
I find both teams to be very evenly matched, as evidenced by their last matchup that went to overtime sans QB Trevor Lawrence.
I went with Notre Dame moneyline the last time these two teams met and I am going to stick to my guns. There is an insane amount of value here at +310 for the No. 2 team in the country.
Based on that alone, I am hammering this all day, every single day, although Trevor Lawrence being back does give me pause. He is an absolute difference-maker.
I am not going to be shocked if Notre Dame doesn’t win, but the value clearly resides with Notre Dame here. These teams are quite evenly matched based on offensive and defensive PPA. My model has Notre Dame as slight dogs in this one, but I do believe that they are fully capable of getting the win. Take the ND ML here.
In the first matchup between these teams, Kyren Williams carried the ball 23 times for 140 yards and three touchdowns.
So, why do I like the under?
For one, 65 of those yards came on his first carry of the game. After that, he carried the ball 22 times for just 75 yards, good for 3.4 yards per carry.
Additionally, Clemson went into that game without its top two linebackers and its top defensive tackle. At linebacker, Clemson’s Mike Jones ranks first in the ACC at the position based on Pro Football Focus grade. At the other linebacker spot, James Skalski is the captain of the defense and ranks third among all ACC linebackers in PFF grade.
Up front, Clemson will also be getting top defensive tackle Tyler Davis back. He racked up 10.5 tackles for loss as a true freshman last season but has battled injuries this year. He will be paired with elite defensive end Myles Murphy, who leads the entire nation in PFF run defense grade at only 18 years old.
Clemson is also coming off a defensive performance against Virginia Tech that should have turned more heads than it did. Virginia Tech entered the game ranking 11th in the nation in expected points added per rush, and Clemson held the Hokies to only 2.9 yards per carry.
On the season, Virginia Tech has actually fielded a more efficient running game than Notre Dame.
If this game plays out like the 10-point spread implies, the Irish probably won’t be running the ball as often as they normally do. If Clemson gets out to a decent lead, Notre Dame will need to try to throw itself back into the game, and Williams should see a lower volume than usual.
by Matt Wispe
Predicting touchdown scorers is always a challenge, particularly with a team that runs the ball on nearly 60% of plays. But McKinley’s usage has increased significantly over the second half of the season, and that helped him get the opportunity for his three-TD breakout last week.
After accounting for just 10 receptions through the first 4 games, McKinley has averaged 5.6 receptions per game over the team’s last five games. Over that stretch, he’s averaged 97.8 yards per game and over 17.5 yards per reception.
With the opportunity to be Notre Dame’s primary field-stretching WR, McKinley is the best bet in the passing game to score. At nearly 2-1, he’s a great value play. To pair with the TD bet, his implied usage and recent production also makes him a safe bet to eclipse 72.5 yards.