Clemson Tigers Most Important Game: At Notre Dame
The Tigers lead the series against the Fighting Irish 4-2. The two teams might not have played often, but the games, especially recently, have been big. The two teams last faced each other in 2020 ACC Championship game, which the Tigers won 34-10. They also met in the 2018 CFP Semifinal which Clemson won as well, 30-3.
This will sound like a broken record but everyone of these games comes down to how the offense performs. Expectations are that the Tigers offense, particularly passing, improved over last year. The Tigers defense expects to be among the very best in the country. That means this game will come down to the three units that struggled last year: the offensive line, wide receivers, and quarterback. Can DJ Uiagalelei duplicate his 2020 performance at Notre Dame? With Will Shipley and Kobe Pace returning he probably does not have to but against one of the top 10 defenses in the country, he must find a better connection with his receivers.
Wake Forest, NC State Clemson’s Biggest ACC Competition
The next two important games are being combined because NC State and Wake Forest represent Clemson’s biggest competition in the ACC. Win both of these games and the Tigers should find themselves back in Charlotte December 3 for the ACC Championship Game.
NC State probably is the better all around team, but Wake Forest offense may present the Tigers defense with their toughest test all season. Clemson’s defense was the difference, along with the running game, against Wake Forest in the Tigers 48-27 win in Death Valley. This time the game will be in Winston-Salem, and while Clemson may not need to score nearly 50 points again, stopping the Deacons passing game, led by quarterback Sam Hartman, will be a challenge.
Clemson lost a heartbreaker to the Wolfpack in double overtime, 27-21. Considering how much the offense struggled it was remarkable the defense could keep it close. The Tigers gained just 214 yards and had just 18:12 time of possession. Only four receivers caught passes against NC State’s stout defense. The Tigers will need their wideouts, Beau Collins, Joseph Ngata, and EJ Williams to make more plays to send NC State back to Raleigh with a loss. NC State quarterback Devin Leary leads 17 returning starters, the most in the ACC. The Tigers defensive line is expected to be one of the nation’s best and pressuring Leary will help slow down the Wolfpack offense.
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