The ACC has never seen this.
No, not just Notre Dame playing as a conference member for this season. This is about rankings.
Per Clemson athletics, Saturday’s No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Notre Dame game is the highest-ranked matchup between ACC teams. Ever.
Saturday night’s game has been hyped for a long time, and both teams have won every game this season to get to this point. Of course, Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence has tested positive for COVID-19 and has experienced symptoms. So the game won’t look exactly the way many expected.
The good news for the top-ranked Tigers is D.J. Uiagalelei had an impressive debut. With Clemson down 18 points, Uiagalelei helped his team rally, 34-28. He finished with 342 yards passing and two touchdowns and 25 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Travis Etienne touched the ball 27 times (20 rushes, seven catches) and will likely be asked to do a lot against the Irish, especially with this one on the road and against a vaunted defense. He also became the ACC’s all-time leading rusher during last week’s win.
Though Clemson linebacker James Skalski will also be out, the Tigers’ defense knows what it needs to do: make Ian Book beat them. Notre Dame’s had a balanced offense, with Book throwing for 204 yards per game. But the Irish would love to find an edge on the line of scrimmage — they average 5.1 rushing yards per attempt.
The veteran Book has the experience, but can Notre Dame get over that hurdle? Two years ago, Clemson crushed the Irish 30-3 in a College Football Playoff semifinal.
And despite all the excitement going into the game and possible conclusions after it, there’s another thing to think about.
These two could easily meet again in the ACC Championship Game next month for Round 2.