Notre Dame at Clemson: X-factors, keys to win, final score predictions

Published: Nov. 4, 2023 at 2:30 AM EDT
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CLEMSON, S.C. (WNDU) - Notre Dame hits the road this week to face a struggling Clemson team that’s looking to turn its season around with a big upset.

Here’s a look at our Countdown to Kickoff team’s X-factors, keys to win, and final score predications.


Julianne Pelusi: Audric Estimé

Without Mitchell Evans, the Irish need to be dominant in the run game. They can do that against Clemson. I think Audric Estimé is going to be the key to win at Clemson.

Drew Sanders: Benjamin Morrison

Last season against Clemson, we saw cornerback Benjamin Morrison put himself on the national radar with a two-pick performance.

I understand Cam Hart isn’t an attractive option to throw at, either. But if Clemson hasn’t learned their lesson by now and decides to try Morrison again, he’ll make them pay.

“Big Play Ben” was a late scratch last week, but all signs point to him being good to go in this one. It could be déjà vu in Death Valley for the stud sophomore at corner.

Chuck Freeby: Jayden Thomas

With Mitchell Evans gone, Sam Hartman needs a big target. Jayden Thomas... young man, it’s time to rise up!

You’re going to have a lot of people making the three-hour trek from Paulding County, Ga., to see you play, and it’s time to use that big frame for something other than run blocking.

This isn’t the time to be doubting Thomas. This is the time to go to the big fella and have him be a major factor in an Irish win.


Julianne Pelusi: Figure out the offense without Mitchell Evans

With his season ending injury, the Irish need to figure out a way to get more production out of their receivers and introduce the run game more into the play calling. Notre Dame is entering a new era of their season without their top tight end.

Drew Sanders: Sam Hartman steps up

Sam Hartman’s last two road games have not been great. He’s had a sub-60 completion percentage while also throwing more picks than touchdowns.

Now, he’s without his favorite target, Mitchell Evans. How does Hartman respond to the adversity? He looked like an early Heisman sleeper through the first few games. He has overall not been that guy in the month of October.

New month, new him? Let’s hope so.

Chuck Freeby: Club Klubnik

Last year, the Irish knocked the Uiagalelei right out of the Clemson quarterback. On Saturday, they need to club Klubnik.

It’s not quite like Club Fever in Mac’s (Terry McFadden’s) heyday, but if you can club Cade Klubnik, you can continue making those turnovers like you’re West End Bakery.


Julianne Pelusi: Clemson 28, Notre Dame 24

Notre Dame has struggled a bit on the road. Even though the Tigers have lost some bad games, this is a winning program in desperation mode to make a bowl game.

Drew Sanders: Notre Dame 21, Clemson 13

Tricia Sloma: Notre Dame 35, Clemson 10

I think the Irish will still score big.

Terry McFadden: Notre Dame 31, Clemson 10

Before the season started, i said Notre Dame would lose this game. After seeing Clemson play, and lose four times, I’ve changed my mind.

Unless Trevor Lawrence somehow suits up, the Golden Boys should smother the Clemson “O.”

Chuck Freeby: Notre Dame 24, Clemson 17

I had the Irish losing this game at the beginning of the year. It still scares me more than any of those trick-or-treaters did Tuesday night.

But I’m going to go with a 24-17 Irish win. I just don’t think Clemson’s offense can score enough against Al gulden’s defense.