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Big chance arrives for No. 4 Notre Dame with Clemson in town

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – Twice earlier than in the final 9 seasons, Notre Dame has discovered itself knocking on school soccer’s penthouse door, had it opened after which slammed shut in its face.

On Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium, the fourth-ranked Fighting Irish get one other chance to take their place on the desk after they host No. 1 Clemson in a recreation that may have each Atlantic Coast Conference and College Football Playoff ramifications.

During his 10 earlier seasons in South Bend, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly twice has taken 12-0 groups into the postseason and seen them run over by their opponent. In 2012, it was a 42-14 loss to Alabama in the championship recreation.

Two years in the past, it was Dabo Swinney’s Clemson crew that beat the Irish 30-3 in a College Football Playoff semifinal on the best way to successful the nationwide championship.

Kelly was considerably irritated this week making a case that his Fighting Irish belong among the many nation’s elite applications like Clemson (7-0, 6-0 ACC), No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Ohio State, which have received 10 nationwide championships since Notre Dame final received one in 1988.

“We’re 29-3 in our last 32 games,” Kelly instructed reporters. “We’ve won 22 consecutive games at home. We’ve won 12 in a row. I don’t know … you guys decide.”

Since 2018, Clemson is 36-1, Alabama 31-2 and Ohio State 28-2 among the many 11 groups which have made the playoff since its inception in 2014.

“You’ve got to execute, you got to play well in the moment,” Kelly stated. “This team has exhibited that they’re not a team that’s going to back away from a challenge. And when they’re down, they’ll certainly pick up their pace and answer any challenges that are in front of them. I have no question about that.”

For essentially the most half this season, Notre Dame’s protection and particular groups have been stable.

Defensive coordinator Clark Lea’s unit, which allowed 151 yards in the primary quarter of the season opener in opposition to Duke, has turn out to be one of many stingiest in the nation led by defensive finish Daelin Hayes, rover Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and free security Kyle Hamilton. Since permitting 405 yards in a 42-26 dwelling victory over Florida State, the protection has allowed simply two touchdowns and a discipline aim in victories over Louisville, Pittsburgh and Georgia Tech whereas accumulating 4 turnovers and eight sacks.

Special groups coordinator Brian Polian’s items have a pair of blocked punts for touchdowns, have consistency in place-kicker Jonathan Doerer (25-25 PATs, 7-9 FGs) and punter Jay Bramblett (41.4 yards per kick) and have stored returns to a minimal. The errors have been uncommon – a fumbled punt return that Florida State was a landing and a mishandled onside kick in opposition to Georgia Tech that Lea’s protection overcame.

Notre Dame’s struggles have principally been on offense the place first-year coordinator Tommy Rees, a former quarterback for Kelly, needed to establish new playmakers for grad quarterback Ian Book. Still, the Irish are averaging 437.2 yards and 34.8 factors a recreation.

The return of an offensive line led by left deal with Liam Eichenberg that now boasts 137 profession begins has helped the working recreation. Kyren Williams has three 100-yard speeding efforts whereas Chris Tyree and C’Bo Flemister have one every because the Irish have floor out 231 yards a recreation.

Book’s receiving choices have been restricted at first, however freshman tight finish Michael Mayer has joined holdovers Tommy Tremble and Brock Wright to strengthen the place. Meanwhile, grad switch Ben Skowronek, grad Javon McKinley, senior Avery Davis and junior Joe Wilkins have begun to jell with Book, who has handed for 511 yards and 4 touchdowns in the final two victories at Pitt (45-3) and Georgia Tech (31-13) and is 26-3 as a starter.

“We’re getting better every week,” stated Book, who has 129 consecutive completions with out an interception, thrown for 1,225 yards and rushed for 212 yards. “We haven’t peaked yet. Now it’s time to go.”

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