Greetings Tech Fans! Happy Friday!
In our final installment of ACC Championship cases, I would like to highlight why I think Notre Dame will win the ACC.
This is a unique year for the Irish. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, they have been granted a full ACC schedule and eligibility in the ACC standings. Notre Dame has always been football independent and recently entered an agreement to play 5 ACC football games per year in exchange for non-football ACC membership (think basketball, baseball, etc.)
Besides this being a fun exercise, Notre Dame is a dang good football team. They are coming off back-to-back 10-plus win seasons and a 2018 CFP appearance.
5th year Senior Ian Book is the number one reason Notre Dame will be a contender. Any team should have national title hopes when they return a Heisman-contending quarterback.
2019 Stats: 240 for 399 | 3034 Passing | 546 Rushing | 34 Pass TDs | 6 INT
Book is praised for his decision-making and is a “game manager”. That term is usually made disparagingly but in college, not turning the ball over with a stout defense is the best strategy. He’s also an effective runner, rattling off 546 yards on the ground. He’s quick to scramble and usually chooses to skedaddle instead of force a ball into coverage.
If Book has a Heisman-caliber season, it won’t matter how the rest of the team does. Title hopes are usually that easy. He’s a top-ten pick in Vegas right now for the award.
No Fly Zone:
Notre Dame returns a couple players projected in the top rounds of next year’s NFL draft. I’ve previously talked about DB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Safety Kyle Hamilton as potential impact players. They were on a defense that finished 12th in total scoring, 3rd in def. passing, and 2nd in turnovers. They return 5 of 6 secondary players.
Highest-graded defenses vs power-five offenses over the past two seasons:— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 20, 2020
➤ Notre Dame - 93.6
➤ Alabama - 93.1
➤ Clemson - 93.1
➤ Ohio State - 93.1 pic.twitter.com/YP42xnwnud
Underrated is Senior MLB Drew White. He finished #1 on the team in tackles and had 5.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries. His leadership and experience should contribute to pass defense over the middle. He started 12 games last year.
⚪ LB Spotlight ⚪— NCAAF Nation (@NCAAFNation247) August 22, 2020
Drew White - Notre Dame
• White had a big season in 2019 for the Irish. He made 80 Tackles, 5.5 Sacks, 13.5 Tackles for Loss, 4 Pass Breakups and 3 QB Hurries. pic.twitter.com/FWtvBV8oJa
Experience at Head Coach:
Head Ball Coach Brian Kelly has been at Notre Dame since 2010 and has an overall record of 93-37. That’s pretty good compared to Notre Dame of the Charlie Weis era.
In case you don’t recall, Brian Kelly coached the powerful Cincinnati teams of ’07-’09. He left town controversially and has lead Notre Dame to objective success. They played in the 2012 title game against Alabama and qualified for the 2018 College football playoff.
These experiences combined with his players experience will go far in a very weird season for the Irish.
We didn’t even do an article making a case for Clemson because that’s a short article. Why? They’re Clemson.
They just have to stay the course. Clempson has won a couple national titles and won the ACC Championship 5 years straight. They have 3 top-ten recruiting classes in a row and Trevor “Sunshine” Lawrence behind center.
Notre Dame hosts Clemson on November 7th and would presumably have to play them again in the ACC Championship Game. I see no other losses on Notre Dame’s schedule so Clemson is the goal. The best case here is actually to lose in South Bend, learn a lesson, and bring the fire to the championship. I’ve always had an odd theory about college teams playing twice and it applies here. The original losing team always has a fire and rage where the other team is feeling confident. Call it hubris but if Notre Dame wins on November 7th. It might just make Clemson push harder.
16 days to kickoff.