Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 4, 2023

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

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BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM NOV. 4, 2023 35 GAME PREVIEW: CLEMSON receiver transfer onto its campus, the Ti- gers might have actually beaten Duke on Labor Day weekend. The Blue Devils won 28-7, but it was a six-point game entering the fourth quarter. And Clemson actually had a one-point halftime lead. What Clemson didn't have was someone to take the game over in the fourth quarter. "The portal stubbornness is the key thing right here," On3's Andy Staples said after the game. "This is what we keep coming back to — Dabo not adjust- ing to today's college football." Ironically, NIL isn't as much of a fac- tor at Notre Dame as it is at say, Texas or Tennessee, and the transfer portal isn't as prevalent in South Bend as it is on the 40 Acres or in Knoxville, either. So, while Clemson is just refusing to implement those advantages as much as some SEC schools, it's simply more dif- ficult for Notre Dame to do so. It hasn't stopped Freeman from trying. Notre Dame generally must wait until a player is a graduate transfer to go after a guy in the portal, but once that is the case Freeman has actually been quite aggressive in revamping his roster via that route. See: safety Brandon Joseph, quarterback Sam Hartman and defen- sive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste. Free- man is willing to overhaul current con- structs with fresh faces who aren't high school recruits. Swinney is outspokenly not a fan of that approach. He'd rather get his players right out of high school. Notre Dame has an answer for that, too; the Fighting Irish were No. 7 in On3's recruiting team rankings for the class of 2024 as of Oct. 26. Clemson was No. 16. MUST-WIN GAME Winning is hard at a place like Notre Dame. There are different rules. Free- man abides by them, but he's also push- ing boundaries as much as possible. The recruiting rankings reflect that. Winning suddenly seems to be hard at a place like Clemson, too. And Swinney is choosing not to push the envelope. It's put him in a position to potentially face his worst overall record in over a decade on the job. Beating Clemson won't mean what it did for Notre Dame in 2020 or 2022 because of that, but that makes this as much of a must-win against the Tigers as any for the Irish. Notre Dame cannot afford to lose to this version of Clemson. The Irish saved some face on their 2022 campaign by dismantling bitter ri- val USC. If they can also manage to dis- patch the Tigers on the road, then they will have won two of three versus Ohio State, USC and Clemson this season. For most fans, that was always the goal. It's on Freeman and his players to get it done now. Don't make this the get-right game for the struggling Swinney. ✦ 2023 NOTRE DAME SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Aug. 26 vs. Navy* W, 42-3 Sept. 2 Tennessee State W, 56-3 Sept. 9 at NC State W, 45-24 Sept. 16 Central Michigan W, 41-17 Sept. 23 Ohio State L, 17-14 Sept. 30 at Duke W, 21-14 Oct. 7 at Louisville L, 33-20 Oct. 14 USC W, 48-20 Nov. 4 Pittsburgh W, 58-7 Nov. 4 at Clemson (ABC) 12 p.m. Nov. 18 Wake Forest (NBC) 3:30 p.m. Nov. 25 at Stanford TBA * at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland Junior running back Will Shipley, a former Irish recruiting target, had 106 carries for 494 yards and 3 touchdowns during Clemson's 4-3 start. PHOTO COURTESY CLEMSON ATHLETICS 2023 CLEMSON SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Sept. 4 at Duke L, 28-7 Sept. 9 Charleston Southern W, 66-17 Sept. 16 Florida Atlantic W, 48-14 Sept. 23 Florida State L, 31-24 (OT) Sept. 30 at Syracuse W, 31-14 Oct. 7 Wake Forest W, 17-12 Oct. 21 at Miami L, 28-20 (2OT) Oct. 28 at NC State L, 24-17 Nov. 4 Notre Dame (ABC) 12 p.m. Nov. 11 Georgia Tech TBA Nov. 18 North Carolina TBA Nov. 25 at South Carolina TBA

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