Notre Dame vs. Clemson Odds & Picks: How To Bet This ACC Showdown
William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Travis Etienne.
- All is well — we have a top-five matchup between No. 1 Clemson and No. 4 Notre Dame coming up very soon. And we have it covered from a betting perspective.
- Our staff broke everything down to come up with spread picks, a moneyline bet, and a prop ahead of kickoff.
- Check out our staff's best bets for one of the most important games of the 2020 season below.
Notre Dame vs. Clemson Betting Odds
|Notre Dame Odds||+5 [BET NOW]|
|Clemson Odds||-65[BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+180/-225 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||50 [BET NOW]|
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
Who doesn’t love a top-five conference matchup in primetime? Answer: no one.
The top-ranked Clemson Tigers travel to South Bend, Indiana, on Saturday to take on the No. 4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a game that will certainly have postseason implications in one way or another.
For that reason, our college football staff analyzed the matchup and came up with their favorite angles for Saturday’s primetime ACC showdown, including point spreads, moneyline picks, and a prop bet.
With so many betting angles covered, you’re sure to find something worth betting on for Saturday’s SEC Showdown. So, if you haven’t already, download the Action App to get real-time odds, track your bets and follow all of our picks in the app.
Why sweat your betting card alone on the couch? Come join the rest of us in the app this Saturday afternoon.
Notre Dame vs. Clemson Staff Best Bets
Without further ado, let’s dive into each of our five staff best bets for No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Notre Dame:
- Stuckey | Notre Dame +5
- Mike Ianniello | Clemson -4.5
- Ace DeCardano | Clemson -4.5
- Patrick Strollo | Notre Dame ML +170
Exotics and Props
- Mike Calabrese | Clemson Over 225 Rushing Yards
This top-five ACC showdown is the game of the week and will likely have College Football Playoff implications.
Although, even with a loss, I think we’ll see Dabo Swinney’s bunch back in the semifinals if they simply run the table and beat Notre Dame in a rematch in the ACC Championship. The Tigers would then have the more recent win over Notre Dame, and the committee would recognize that they didn’t have Trevor Lawrence for the first meeting.
Getting back to this weekend’s game, I do think there is about a 4- to 5-point drop-off between Lawrence and freshman DJ Uiagalelei, who will be making his first career road start. This is also a Clemson team that just doesn’t have as dominant of a receiving group as we’ve seen in the past few years.
Yes, it still features the best back in the country in Travis Etienne, but Notre Dame boasts an extremely formidable run defense. The Irish defensive line ranks No. 2 in Stuff Rate and No. 11 in Line Yards. I think it can hold its own here.
On the other side of the ball, Notre Dame has a very experienced quarterback in Ian Book and one of the most talented offensive lines in the country. There are questions on the outside after the losses of Cole Kmet and Chase Claypool to the NFL, but I think Book and the ground game can do enough against an undermanned Clemson defense. Not only did Will Venable’s unit lose a bunch of NFL talent, but it’ll also be without a few key starters on Saturday. It wasn’t Lawrence’s fault that Boston College put up 28 points in the first half last week.
I make this line Clemson -3, so I’ll gladly roll with the Irish here as a home dog at 5 or better, but I obviously prefer 6 or above if you can find it.
Mike Ianniello: Clemson -4.5 [Bet Now]
Not having Trevor Lawrence, the best quarterback in college football, is obviously a huge loss for the Clemson Tigers. But I believe Clemson will still have the best quarterback on the field Saturday. D.J. Uiagalelei is a five-star recruit who checks in at 6’4 and 250 pounds. He has a rocket arm and great mobility for a quarterback his size. In his first start against Boston College, Uiagalelei looked calm and decisive in the pocket, completing 30 of his 41 pass attempts for 342 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
By comparison, Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book has played in 41 career games over four years and has thrown for more than 342 yards just three times. Among all ACC starting quarterbacks, Book ranks eighth in yards per game, fifth in completion percentage and 10th in touchdowns.
Notre Dame’s strength has been running the football with Kyren Williams behind an elite offensive line. However, this Clemson defense ranks third in the country in Defensive Rushing Success Rate.
These are two of the best defenses in college football. SP+ has the Fighting Irish defense ranked No. 8 and the Tigers defense at No. 10. Both of these teams excel at creating Havoc on defense, with Clemson ranking third and Notre Dame fourth.
With both defenses being essentially equal and both excelling in the trenches, this could come down to which offense has the skill players to make the most plays when they get open space.
That is where Notre Dame is at a big disadvantage. It just doesn’t have the weapons on the outside this season. The Irish lost their top three pass-catchers from last season, and despite having another excellent tight end, their wide receivers struggle to create separation.
Clemson, meanwhile, has running back Travis Etienne, who is one of the best players in all of college football. What makes Etienne so dangerous is his ability to excel as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. He averages 148.6 total yards from scrimmage per game. Etienne has a special combination of speed and strength that allows him to turn one missed tackle into a home-run play. He leads the country with 16 plays over 20 yards this year.
Notre Dame has lost 19 of its last 20 games against top-five teams. I think we are getting Clemson at a big discount here, as look-ahead lines had the Tigers as double-digit favorites before the Lawrence news. Clemson still has the skill players and a quarterback more than capable of getting them the ball, so I will gladly take the Tigers at less than a touchdown.
Ace DeCardano: Clemson -4.5 [Bet Now]
I’m not from Missouri, but Notre Dame is still going to have to “show me” before I can back it. Always overhyped in recent years, the Fighting Irish simply haven’t had the athletes to compete with the best of the best. This is evidenced by their 11-game losing streak against top-five teams. Meanwhile, after sleepwalking through the first half of last week’s game against Boston College, the Clemson Tigers’ four- and five-star future pros will look to continue the Irish’s streak of futility in primetime.
You might have heard that Trevor Lawrence will miss this game. However, in Lawrence’s absence is freshman DJ Uiagalelei, who has quickly shown the nation why he was the No. 3 recruit in the country. Uiagalelei is completing 70% of his passes and has yet to throw an interception in his limited time on the field. It also helps to be able to give the ball to the best running back in the country in Travis Etienne. A rushing and receiving threat, Etienne has over 1,000 total yards on the season to go with 11 touchdowns.
Notre Dame QB Ian Book was extremely impressive against Pittsburgh with 312 yards and three scores, but the other defenses on the schedule have been Duke (72nd-ranked defense against the pass), South Florida (82nd overall), Florida State (125th overall), Louisville (70th overall), and Georgia Tech (109th overall). It’s just tough to compare that schedule to the speed he’ll face on Saturday.
I like Clemson -4.5 and would buy it up to 6.
Patrick Strollo: Notre Dame ML +170 [Bet Now]
Clemson had a close call last weekend against Boston College, winning 34-28. It was its first game without Trevor Lawrence, and true freshman DJ Uiagalelei was up for the task, going 30-of-41 for 342 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Travis Etienne stepped up as well, picking up 84 yards rushing, 140 receiving and two total touchdowns.
The Clemson defense allowed the most points it had given up all season, though. Still, Clemson’s defense has been outstanding. It holds a defensive PPA per play of 0, which is the best in the ACC. Clemson’s defense is generating the most Havoc in the ACC at 0.25, which is higher than the conference average of 0.17. The Clemson defense will have to anchor the team as the Tigers look to come out of South Bend victorious. But it’s hard to quantify how the offense is going to perform in a game like this without its standout starting quarterback.
Notre Dame is averaging 34.8 points per game while only giving up 10.3. Senior QB Ian Book has been leading the scoring efforts for the Fighting Irish. He is 92-of-150 for 1,225 yards with seven touchdowns and one interception on the season. Book will have to be sharp on Saturday for the Irish to win the game. Sophomore RB Kyren Williams has been strong on the ground, rushing for 600 yards and seven scores. Notre Dame has been excellent defensively with a defensive PPA per play of -0.04. It has a Havoc rating of 0.24, which is right in line with Clemson. Bringing pressure and controlling the line of scrimmage will be paramount for Notre Dame as it looks to fluster the opposing newbie under center.
My model has Notre Dame as 1.5-point favorites based on season-long data that includes Trevor Lawrence data. If I adjust Clemson’s passing production down slightly to adjust for the loss of Lawrence, the line tilts to almost a touchdown in favor of Notre Dame. In my opinion, there’s going to be a drop-off in performance switching to Uiagalelei from Lawrence, especially on a massive stage like this.
Both of these teams have the ability to produce on offense. Both defenses are excellent, with Notre Dame defending the pass slightly better than the run. This game and stage will not be as comfortable as a Saturday afternoon home game for Uiagalelei. I think there’s value on the Notre Dame moneyline with the Irish playing at home under the lights against a true freshman. It’s even better that the moneyline sits at +170.
Exotics and Props
Mike Calabrese: Clemson to Run For 225 Yards or More [Bet Now]
Last month in a top-10 battle, Clemson ran up 258 yards on a Miami (FL) defense that entered the game allowing just 146 yards per game on the ground.
Notre Dame has been much better against the run, but an argument can be made that its success against the run has been circumstantial. Last season, the Irish fielded the nation’s 59th-ranked run defense. This season they’ve been fantastic against the run (93.6 ypg, eighth), but four of their six games have come against rushing attacks ranked 58th or worse nationally.
This play comes down to plus-sized odds being offered. D.J. Uiagalelei will add a rushing element from the quarterback position, and Clemson has one of the best home-run hitters at running back that the ACC has ever seen. Travis Etienne has 10 career touchdown runs of 50+ yards and is averaging just under six yards per carry in 2020. I predict Clemson will win this game by a 7- to 10-point margin, which from a game flow perspective, would be in favor of my rushing total over.