Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 4, 2023

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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32 NOV. 4, 2023 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED GAME PREVIEW: CLEMSON BY TYLER HORKA C oaches don't think this way. And they shouldn't. But for perception purposes, it's out- standing for Notre Dame to have a marquee victory such as the one the Fighting Irish earned a few weeks ago against USC to hang the Marcus Freeman era hat on. Because if the big- gest win in his tenure was still a 35-14 thrashing of Clemson last November, well, that one has depreciated in value more rapidly than rolling a brand new Rolls Royce right off the lot. This isn't Deshaun Watson's or Trevor Lawrence's Clemson. It's still Dabo Swinney's Clemson, though, and he's one of the three most successful college football head coaches who are currently in the game. So, it will always mean something to take down his Tigers. It just doesn't mean as much as it once did, which puts pres- sure on Notre Dame in another way. It isn't about beating one of college foot- ball's great superpowers anymore; it's about avoiding a loss to a once great su- perpower that is clearly on the decline. That's different. That's scary. Playing the Tigers used to be a spec- tacle because everybody knew how hard it was to beat them. Clemson won 40 games in a row at their home sta- dium until losing to South Carolina late last year. They've since lost another in Death Valley, a 31-24 defeat against No. 4 Florida State Sept. 23. No longer a juggernaut, Clemson looked incredibly beatable two weeks after succumbing to the Seminoles. Swinney's squad narrowly escaped Wake Forest, a team with zero confer- ence wins at that point, 17-12 in Clem- son. There was no such escaping Miami two weeks after that. The Hurricanes won 28-20 in double overtime in Miami Gardens, Fla. 'LIGHTEN UP THE BANDWAGON' All of it has amounted to some sound- ing of the alarms from Swinney in press conference settings. Prior to the Miami game, he suggested a few losses were just what Clemson needed. He said he wanted to find out who is really with Clemson and who might just be a fair- weather supporter. "Honestly, maybe we need to lose a few games and lighten up the band- wagon," he said. "Sometimes the band- wagon can get a little too full." After the Miami game, Swinney was asked if Clemson has a psychiatrist to help get players through tough times like the ones they're enduring in a sea- son that has not gone to plan. His re- sponse didn't exactly come off well. At all. "We got him," the coach said. "He's probably on suicide watch right now." That's where Clemson seems to be in 2023. The Tigers can't do everything right on the field, and Swinney hasn't been a model of unflappable persistence in the way he came off in the past. Notre Dame isn't notching any profound, pro- gram-defining win over Clemson this time around. It almost feels like just any other ACC road game for the Irish; han- dle your business and get out of town with a victory. The Notre Dame loss to Louisville showed that isn't always easy. The Irish's 30-game ACC regular season winning streak was rudely snapped in the Commonwealth of Kentucky Oct. 7. Louisville fans stormed the field and weren't so nice to anyone they saw close by wearing blue and gold. Clemson fans are invited onto the field for every game. They might be a more welcoming TRENDING DOWN Dabo Swinney remains confident the Tigers can remain a college football power, but recent history suggests otherwise Swinney has not lost four or more games in a single season since 2011, but that streak is in jeopardy of being broken this year. PHOTO COURTESY CLEMSON ATHLETICS Facts & Figures NOTRE DAME AT CLEMSON Date: Nov. 4, 2023 Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET Television: ABC Radio: This game can be heard on Notre Dame IMG affiliates. Series Facts: This is the eighth all-time meeting between Clemson and Notre Dame. The Tigers lead the series 4-3. The Irish won the last meeting 35-14 in South Bend on Nov. 5, 2022. Head coaches: Clemson — Dabo Swinney (165-43, 16th season); Notre Dame — Marcus Freeman (16-7, second season). Noting Clemson: Once a Notre Dame recruiting target, running back Will Shipley had 106 carries for 494 yards and 3 touchdowns in the Tigers' first seven games … Five-star quarterback Cade Klubnik's numbers would not suggest the Tigers are having a rough season; he completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 1,684 yards with 13 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in his first seven games of the season … Clemson had the nation's No. 7 overall total defense through Week 8, allowing just 276.1 yards per game … The Tigers' defense is especially stingy against the pass, giving up just 172.0 passing yards per game through Week 8 … Clemson has struggled with turnovers offensively; the Tigers had 13 through Week 8, which was tied for No. 101 in the nation … Clemson also ranked tied for No. 123 nationally in team field goal percentage through Week 8 at 50 percent (6 of 12) … Clemson only had 27 plays of 20-plus yards through Week 8, which ranked tied for 96th in the country … The Tigers only allowed 19 such plays through Week 8, though, ranked tied for eighth nationally.

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