College Football Playoff Preview: Notre Dame

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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 second article in the series, the Syndicate's Brand Manager James Collard gives you his take on the #3 seed Notre Dame Fighting Irish.


Photo courtesy of USAToday
So let me get this off my chest first. The playoff committee finally got this year's College Football Playoffs right. It took them long enough, but they did it.  Last thing is the playoffs need to be expanded to eight teams, not four.  The five from the Power Conferences, and then three at-large teams.  It just makes more sense. So now that I said my piece, let’s talk about why I’m here.

If you have been following along with my Twitter feed this season you have realized that I’m a diehard Notre Dame Football fan.  This year's team, lead by Coach Brian Kelly, is pretty much the best team he has ever had during his nine year tenure, and as long as I've been alive. The Fighting Irish are ranked third in the final College Football Playoff poll and are entering their first go at the playoffs. Their semifinal game is in the Cotton Bowl against the number two ranked team in the country - the Clemson University Tigers. Which, if you remember their 2015 matchup, then you remember it was a nail bitter 'til the very end. So the 2018 Cotton Bowl might be a duplicate, which hopefully has a different outcome for this Notre Dame Fan.

The Fighting Irish are led by junior quarterback Ian Book, who replaced quarterback Brandon Wimbush after his sluggish start this season. This change was the spark that the offense needed. Book, who is a modern dual threat quarterback, has made this run-and-gun spread hybrid offense not only a one player stand-out, but also made six other players stand-outs this season. Running Back Dexter Williams and Tony Jones Jr have given this offense the speed boost and power they needed in the running game to allow success in this two dimensional offense. Wide Receivers Miles Boykin, Chase Claypool and Chris Finke, and Tight End Alize Mack have given Book a slew of options to throw to, which could be the reason Book is in the top five in completion percentage this season. Now that the offense has been spoken for, how about the defense?

Well as the saying goes “Defense wins championships”. So for the sake of Notre Dame, that is right. The Irish defense is one of the best in the country; they're top ten in points allowed and turnovers this season. They are led by some star players in lineman Jerry Tillery, linebackers Drue Tranquill and Te'von Coney, along with defensive backs Julian Love and Jalen Elliott. The opposing team’s offense were sometimes not even noticeable all season. During my twenty nine years of living, this is probably the best defense I have ever seen, and it has gotten me super excited on what could be in store for the Cotton Bowl this year.

But after all that talk about both sides of the ball for the Irish here, are my three keys that could be the result of Notre Dame beating Clemson and heading to Levi Stadium for a shot of the Title. 


The first key is the offense needs to stick to what got them to the dance, and that’s run the ball and throw the ball when needed. 

The second key is for the defense to not let Sunshine Trevor Lawrence beat them with those deep throws, or allow him to use his feet.  Plug the hole so the Tigers can’t run, and swat the ball so Clemson receivers can’t catch the ball. Defense wins championship boys. 

The final key goes to the whole team. Block the noise and just treat this game like all the other games this season. And if they do that, then by the end of Saturday they could be wearing a new t-shirt with a new hat and making plans for another game at Levi Stadium on January 7th.

So Play Like Champions Today boys.

If you realized that I didn’t actually make a prediction, well, it's because I am very superstitious and I’m one of those guys who wears the same outfit and sits in the same seat all season.

Go Irish!!!


Follow James on Twitter @JameikaNation. 


Questions, comments, or ideas for the weekly podcast? Use @BostonSportsSYN.

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Boston Sports Syndicate: College Football Playoff Preview: Notre Dame
College Football Playoff Preview: Notre Dame
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