2018 Cotton Bowl – College Football Playoff Semifinals – #2 Clemson Tigers vs #3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Over the course of the college football regular season, we saw teams fall out of the top 4, leaving space for other teams to step in. There were, though, a couple of teams who stayed at the top for the entire season.
The Alabama Crimson Tide started the season as the #1 team in the nation, finishing the year in the exact same spot, going unbeaten from start to finish. Sitting right on their tail were the Clemson Tigers, who also went unbeaten this season, although not without having to overcome a couple of dodgy games that could have derailed their season.
Alabama and Clemson are essentially college football royalty, with many fans assuming that they are set to go head to head once again in the National Championship Game. For that to happen, the Tigers are going to need to get past the unbeaten Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Cotton Bowl. Clemson are coming into this one as a 12½ point favorite, with the point total set at 56½.
.@Goodyear always produces killer tire sculptures ahead of the @CottonBowl.
This year’s models were crafted from more than 375 Goodyear-branded tires and 3,200 hidden screws, weigh between 350-400 pounds, and took more than 500 hours to complete.
Super cool. pic.twitter.com/r6Ya7d5atD
— Marty Smith (@MartySmithESPN) December 27, 2018
Why bet on the Clemson Tigers?
As we mentioned earlier, the Clemson Tigers made it through the season totally unscathed, but there were a couple of games earlier in the year where the story could have been very different.
Their win versus Texas A&M and Syracuse were not particularly convincing, but they seemed to learn from those tough wins, getting progressively stronger with each passing week. After squeaking by Syracuse, Clemson won their next 8 games of the season by an average of 38 PPG.
While there were just 7-6 ATS this year, they actually were on a tear at the end, going 7-3 ATS in their final 10 games. Outside of their own building, Clemson went 5-2 ATS. The point total was a bit of a wash from a betting perspective, with the Tigers going 6-7 O/U this season.
Why bet on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish?
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are not getting a lot of love coming into this game, perhaps because they are the first team outside of the Power 5 to make it into the college football playoff.
They did have some struggles early on, having a tough time against the likes of Ball State, but the Irish were like the Clemson Tigers in that they seemed to get stronger as the season progressed.
They also managed to cover the spread in 7 of their last 10 games, which included a run that saw them cover in 4 of their last 5. The Irish only started as an underdog once this season, but they covered the spread in that one. Like the Tigers, there is not much to go on in regards the point total, with the Irish going 6-6 O/U this season.
Expert Pick and Final Score Prediction
The one thing that concerns me here is that the Irish do not play a conference championship game, which means that they don’t really have any experience in a playoff type scenario. I like Clemson to move on to the National Championship, although I think it might be closer than a lot of people expect.
Predicted Score: Clemson Tigers 33 | Notre Dame Fighting Irish 24
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