College Football Playoff Preview: Clemson

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Even though there are no Boston teams involved, the Boston Sports Syndicate is still heavy into the College Football Playoff.  Three members of our writing staff, plus a special guest, each took a team and gives you a breakdown of their chances to win it all.  In the third article in the series, the Syndicate's Bruins Writer Marc Robitaille leaves the ice and gives you his take on the #2 seed Clemson Tigers.

Photo courtesy of independentmail.com
The Cotton Bowl and the College Football Semifinal games have been the story of the week, but it has not all centered on the actual games.  The Clemson Tigers were dealt a serious blow with pending suspensions.

Dabo Swinney will lead his men into battle in this Saturday’s Cotton Bowl, most likely without one of his go-to players.  Starting defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence failed a drug test over the past week, along with two other Clemson Tigers.  Keep an eye on this story as the NCAA is further investigating and the ruling could be overturned.  If the suspension stands this will impact the Tigers, but it will not be enough to prevent Clemson from having an opportunity to reclaim the title of National Champions.  Their defense consists of more than one player, the lineup is littered with All-Americans and future NFL draft picks.

Brian Kelly has put together a nice little resume as Head Football Coach of Notre Dame.  The Fighting Irish have had an impressive season with a perfect 12-0 record and the claim to the number three seed.  The Irish will present challenges for the Tigers, but do not have enough firepower to contend for four quarters with the ACC Champions.

Clemson has had a very impressive offense under true freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence.  He shares a shocking resemblance to the fictional quarterback Ronnie “Sunshine” Bass from Disney’s Remember the Titans.  Tigers fans can only hope that Trevor Lawrence will have the same outcome that Sunshine and the TC Williams Titans found.  Trevor Lawrence not only won the title of a Disney look-a-like, but also ACC Freshman of the Year.  

Clemson finished fourth in points per game in the nation at 45.4 p/pg.  Trevor Lawrence has had the knack for creating monster plays with his receiving core and backs.  Sophomore running back Travis Etienne had the fifth most rushing yards in the nation, and will offer problems for the Irish defense.  Notre Dame ranked thirtieth in rushing defense and let up an average of 133.5 yards on the ground per game.  Plenty of opportunity for Etienne to break loose and have a big day.  

Anytime a team can allow an average of less than two touchdowns per game the nation takes notice.  Only Mississippi State allowed fewer points per game this year.  The Clemson Tigers defense will give the Fighting Irish plenty of problems on Saturday.  Notre Dame has claim to a perfect record this year, but has not faced an opponent like Clemson.  The Irish probably had their most impressive win in week one against Michigan, who also offers defensive issues.  Look for the Tigers to give up a few scores, but they will not break against the Irish offense.

The Clemson Tigers will ultimately win this game, but need to stay focused on the task at hand. Clemson cannot afford to overlook The Cotton Bowl and begin to focus on a rematch with Alabama, who will more than likely take care of business against the Oklahoma Sooners.  The Tigers greatest opponent in this game could be themselves.  The storyline of a Clemson vs. Alabama rematch would be thrilling.  This would be the third time in four years these two teams have met in the National Championship.  We can bet that Alabama will not look past their semifinal game under Nick Saban.  Dabo Swinney needs to pass along the same message to his locker room before this tilt.

Notre Dame will hang in with the Tigers for the first half, but I predict the Tigers punching their ticket to the big dance.  Trevor Lawrence may come out of the gate a little slow under the big lights, but he will find his groove by the second quarter.  Tigers take the Cotton Bowl 38-20 and move on to meet The Crimson Tide for The National Title.


Follow Marc on Twitter @MRobes12.

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Boston Sports Syndicate: College Football Playoff Preview: Clemson
College Football Playoff Preview: Clemson
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