Cotton Bowl Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Clemson Tigers Pick - Odds and ATS Predictions

December 29, 4:00 PM EST

Betting Odds

Point Spread: 
Clemson -13.5

In the first of two semifinal showdowns on Dec. 29 in this season’s College Football Playoff, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish face the Clemson Tigers in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium. ESPN will carry the game nationally starting at 4 p.m.

Notre Dame vs. Clemson Game Overview

Notre Dame is a member of the ACC for most sports, and it posted five of its 12 straight-up victories this season against a team from this conference. After covering as a 10-point favorite in a late-season 36-3 win against Syracuse, the Irish went 4-1 against the spread in their five ACC games. Overall, they are 6-5-1 ATS with a 2-3-1 record over their last six contests.

To get past the ACC’s top team, Notre Dame will rely heavily on a defense that only allowed an average of 17.3 points per game. This represented about half of the 33.6 points the offense averaged this year. The Irish will also need to establish the run behind Dexter Williams quickly. He led a ground game averaging 190.5 yards per game with 941 total rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns despite the fact that he missed his first four games of the year.

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If Clemson plays to form, it should easily advance to its third national title game over the past four seasons. However, that ‘if’ has already loomed big at certain times this season. The Tigers closed as double-digit favorites in all 13 games it played this year, but they were only able to cover the hefty closing spread in seven of those contests. They were a solid betting team on the road this season at 5-1 ATS. Clemson’s closest call all season came against Syracuse in a tight 27-23 victory in late September as a 24.5-point home favorite.

With an average of 45.4 PPG on offense complementing a defense that only allowed 13.7 points a game, there is a reason why Clemson is undefeated as the second-best team in the nation. Trevor Lawrence took over the reins at quarterback early in the season and threw for 2,606 yards and 24 touchdowns. Travis Etienne racked up 1,463 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground. Between the pass and the run, the Tigers have averaged 530 yards o total offense a game.

Notre Dame vs. Clemson Betting Trends

  • The Fighting Irish have a 6-2-1 record ATS in their last nine games and they have covered in their previous four neutral-site games. The total has gone OVER in six of their last eight December games.
  • The Tigers are 7-1 ATS in their last eight bowl games, and they are 11-2 ATS in their previous 13 games played at a neutral site. The total has stayed UNDER in 11 of their last 16 bowl games.
  • These two met once before with Clemson winning SU and Notre Dame covering ATS. The total stayed UNDER the closing line.

Notre Dame vs. Clemson Prediction 12/29/2018

As mentioned, if Clemson can bring its A-Game to Texas it will be a long afternoon for the Irish at the Cotton Bowl. Even if that is the case, covering a double-digit spread against the third-best team in the nation will be a tall task.

With the current spread jumping to 13.5 points, my lean is towards Clemson SU in a game that will be closer than most people think. Take Notre Dame and the 13.5 points now since there is a good chance that some late money on the Irish could drive that number down.

Free Pick: 
Take Notre Dame +13.5