Notre Dame has already clinched a spot in the ACC Championship, but its opponent has yet to be determined. Clemson has a chance to clinch its spot in the title game if it can go on the road and beat the struggling Virginia Tech Hokies.
The Tigers will be motivated to secure the win, which gives Clemson a rematch against Notre Dame. Virginia Tech will look to salvage its once promising season with an upset over the Tigers. Of course, Virginia Tech hasn't defeated Clemson since 2007.
Irish Breakdown's staff has broken the game down and is set to make its predictions.
BRYAN DRISKELL, PUBLISHER
Prediction: Clemson 56, Virginia Tech 20
This game will not be competitive, and when it's all said and done the ACC Championship matchup will be set.
Clemson holds every on paper advantage, and the Tigers are certainly rested. Dabo Swinney's squad is also focused and motivated, which means the Hokies will get their best shot. Virginia Tech has a potent run game, and that could allow them to get a score or two early, but the defense has no shot at slowing down the Clemson offense.
Offensive coordinator Tony Elliott knows he must have a balanced attack to beat Notre Dame, so I expect the Tigers to look to establish the run game against a Virginia Tech defense giving up an average of 189 yards per game on the ground.
Once the ground game gets established look for quarterback Trevor Lawrence to hit several big shots as the Clemson offense buries the Hokies early.
Clemson is getting healthy on defense, and the Hokies won't be able to run the ball on the Tigers like they have most of the ACC this season. I expect the Clemson defensive line to control the action and force the Hokies to the air, and that is the matchup Clemson will like.
I do expect Virginia Tech to hit a big play or two, but this game will be over by halftime.
VINCE DEDARIO, FOOTBALL ANALYST
Prediction: Clemson 35, Virginia Tech 17
I don't want to say I am rooting for Clemson to lose this game, but I wouldn't be upset if it happened either. It would be very interesting to see what the committee thought of a two loss Clemson team that didn't even make it into the conference title game. Unfortunately, I do not think that will be the case once this thing is in the books.
Clemson is still a very strong team, and with one loss on their resume they still need a few style points. Going on the road against a decent Virginia Tech team and dropping the hammer would be a nice feather in the Tigers' cap.
I think Tech has the horses to keep this thing close, but I do not think they can withstand the body blows that Clemson will keep throwing. Look for them to really try and establish running back Travis Etienne and the run game in this one prior to the bye week. They will need a healthy run game to beat the Irish in the title game and head coach Dabo Swinney knows it. Trevor Lawrence is getting his sea legs back and it will show in this one. Even though I think it will be close early, the Tigers will win this one going away.
BRIAN SMITH, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Clemson 47, Virginia Tech 24
Clemson needs a weak rush defense to get their star running back Travis Etienne going again, and the Hokies allow 189 yards rushing per game. After Etienne slices up the Hokies, that's when the real trouble begins. The Tigers will throw over the top of a bad Virginia Tech secondary for much of the game, and that will be the reason it's over by halftime in Blacksburg.
The Hokies will score some points, but even their versatile offense will not be able to keep up with Clemson's attack. Look for Hokie QB Hendon Hooker to make some nice throws, but Clemson's defense will be far too much for the Hokies to consistently run the football. When a Brent Venables defense makes an opponent one dimensional, it's bad news.
NATHAN ATKINS, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Clemson 56, Virginia Tech 7
This week against Virginia Tech shouldn't be any different for Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence than last week's 52-17 win against Pittsburgh. Lawrence passed for 403 yards and a pair of scores against the Panthers despite not having played a game in over a month.
Virginia Tech needs to run the ball to win. In games where they rush for less than 260 yards, they're 0-5. The Hokies cannot throw the ball; they're averaging 199 yards passing and one touchdown per game. Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente will want to win the time of possession and keep Lawrence off the field, but they'll be unable to.
Clemson's defense is only allowing 103 yards rushing this season. The Hokies will once again run for less than 260 and add another game to the loss column.
JP SCOTT, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Clemson 37, Virginia Tech 13
The pressure is all on Clemson to win this game, stay alive in the hunt for a College Football Playoff berth, and punch a ticket for a rematch with Notre Dame in the ACC title game. They are facing a Virginia Tech team coming off a much needed bye, and the Hokies will be as prepared as possible. Look for this to be close in the first half, before Trevor Lawrence and Co. open up a lead in the second half and cruise to a sound win.
RYAN PALMERI, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Clemson 48, Virginia Tech 24
Virginia Tech is what they have been for the last few years, average. Clemson needs to win one more game and they get the rematch with Notre Dame. This should be a blowout as Clemson is just the superior team on every level. Staying healthy and pulling the starters should be the main goal for the Tigers.
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