Every summer, the hype machine is cranked up for the blockbuster matchups that will have the biggest impact on the postseason and this year is no different. On Monday, SportingNews joined in on the fun releasing the top games of the season with Clemson vs. Notre Dame coming away as the game of the year.
The way both schedules shake out, the non-conference tilt between the Tigers and Fighting Irish on Nov. 7 will almost certainly be a battle of undefeated squads with major playoff implications hanging in the balance. Simply put, Notre Dame appears to the biggest hurdle Clemson must clear to return to the final four for the sixth straight season.
Clemson leads the overall series 3-1 but the two teams are no strangers as of late. In 2015, the No. 6 Fighting Irish and No. 12 Tigers produced an instant classic during a monsoon stemming from Hurricane Joaquin as Deshaun Watson and company held off the Irish, 24-22.
The Tigers sealed the deal with a stopped two-point conversion after Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer found Torii Hunter, Jr. on a one-yard toss to pull within two points with just seven seconds left in regulation.
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In a highly-anticipated rematch for the 2018 Cotton Bowl and CFP Semifinal, it was once again the orange and white coming away victorious, 30-3. Clemson true-freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence was 27-of-39 passing for 327 yards and three touchdowns and outdueled Ian Book who finished 17-of-34 passing for 160 yards and one touchdown.
Lawrence was aided by an efficient Travis Etienne as the all-time leader in rushing yards (4,038) and rushing touchdowns (56) paced the running game with 14 carries for 109 yards and one touchdown.
Here's what SportingNews had to say about this year's meeting which is set for Nov. 7 in South Bend, Ind.:
SN's Game of the Year
Clemson vs Notre Dame (Nov. 7)
Looking at the schedule, it's a decent bet that both teams have matching 8-0 records when they meet in South Bend, and that would create the backdrop for one of those games that lives on forever. Notre Dame is 2-5 all-time when the No. 1 team in the country visits South Bend, and that includes victories against Miami in “Catholics vs. Convicts” and the upset against Florida State in 1993. This game — a rematch of the 2018 Cotton Bowl Classic that would feature Trevor Lawrence and Ian Book in a rematch — could have that kind of heat on it if the Tigers are the top team in the country.
Sporting News also selected USC vs Alabama (Sept. 5) as the best game of week one, Ohio State at Oregon (Sept. 12) as the best non-conference game of the year, Texas at LSU (Sept. 12) as best rematch of the year, Georgia at Alabama (Sept. 19) as best September conference game, Ohio State vs. Penn State (Oct. 24) as best October conference game, Florida vs. Georiga (Oct. 31) as best neutral site game of the year, Michigan at Ohio State (Nov. 30) as best November conference game, and Alabama at LSU (Nov. 7) for best bet for the game of the century.