❚ Who has the edge?
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
When Clemson runs: Notre Dame’s defense has held ranked opponents to 2.6 yards per carry. Still, the opponents were Michigan, Northwestern and Syracuse. Clemson’s Travis Etienne has run for 1,463 yards and 21 touchdowns in one of the top running attacks in program history. EDGE: Clemson
When Clemson passes: Notre Dame has one of the nation’s top pass defenses, allowing just seven touchdowns through the air all season and holding three of its final five opponents to under a 50 percent completion rate. EDGE: Notre Dame
When Notre Dame runs: Dexter Williams brought a new dimension to the running game after taking over as the primary running back in late September. But Clemson’s defensive line has the ability to dominate the line of scrimmage and shut down Williams and the Notre Dame ground game. EDGE: Clemson
When Notre Dame passes: Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell and company will stress Notre Dame’s offensive line every time Ian Book drops back to pass. The Tigers’ ability to create havoc with just four rushers makes things substantially easier for the secondary. EDGE: Clemson
Special teams: Clemson has the edge in coverage. Notre Dame’s kickoff team is one of the nation’s worst. There’s no real gap separating each team’s return groups. But Notre Dame is definitely more reliable on field goal attempts thanks to senior kicker Justin Yoon. EDGE: Clemson
Coaching: Brian Kelly did a fantastic job reloading his staff after a dismal 2016. But Dabo Swinney knows exactly what buttons to push to get his team ready to go in this sort of atmosphere. EDGE: Clemson
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, handing off to running back Adam Choice, accounted for 25 TDs.