Notre Dame enters a sold-out 81,500-seat Clemson Memorial Stadium Saturday to take on the 12th-ranked Tigers in a game that fans can watch live online for free — and one which could determine which of these two teams has legitimate chance at grabbing a coveted College Football Playoff berth.
The Fighting Irish come into the game undefeated at 4-0 and ranked Number Six nationally, after a 62-27 blowout win over the hapless University of Massachusetts last weekend in South Bend. The Clemson Tigers have won all three of their games so far in the 2015 season.
The game against U. Mass was such a one-sided affair that Notre Dame was able to use contest as effectively a scrimmage in preparation for Saturday’s huge showdown with Clemson on the road in South Carolina. During the U. Mass game, the Irish practiced a non-verbal cadence in order to deal with what is certain to be a hostile and earsplitting environment at Clemson.
The Notre Dame vs. Clemson matchup is the featured college game of the weekend, with the ESPN College Game Day program broadcasting from the Clemson campus Saturday, and the nationally televised game given a prime time slot on the ABC television network.
To find out how to watch the Notre Dame vs. Clemson game live online for free, see the streaming link in the final paragraph of this article. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. Eastern Time at Clemson Memorial Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina, 5 p.m. Pacific Time.
The game presents a contrast of quarterbacks, with Notre Dame continuing to start freshman DeShone Kizer, the team’s third-string quarterback who was elevated to the starting slot after Everett Golson transferred to Florida State and Malik Zaire went down with a season-ending broken ankle in the second game of the 2015 Notre Dame campaign.
Clemson, on the other hand, starts sophomore Deshaun Watson, an NFL prospect and preseason pick for ACC Player of the Year. Watson has struggled early this year, and will be looking to break out against Notre Dame Saturday night.
But the key matchup of the game, experts believe, will come in the duel between Notre Dame wide receiver Will Fuller and Clemson cornerback MacKensie Alexander. While Fuller had already caught 22 passes for 454 yards and six touchdowns, Alexander in his 16-game Clemson career has held opposing quarterbacks to a 32 percent completion rate — 22 for 65 — when they throw in his direction.
Both teams have traditionally been college football powerhouses, though Clemson won its first and, to date, only national championship in 1981. Notre Dame has won eight national titles since 1936 when the Associated Press poll first named a college football national champion — more than any other school.
But despite the resumés of both schools, Saturday’s meeting will be only the third between Notre Dame and Clemson.
The first came in 1977 when Notre Dame and Clemson, as they are today, both ranked in the Top 15. In that game, Notre Dame featured a young quarterback named Joe Montana — who showed exactly why he would go on to become one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks of all time, leading the Irish to a pair of touchdowns in the final eight minutes, giving Notre Dame a come-from-behind 21-17 victory.
The 35 other future NFL players on both teams that day included Clemson receiver Dwight Clark who would later become Montana’s teammate on the San Francisco 49ers and make one of the most memorable catches in NFL history in the 1981 NFC Championship game.
The two teams faced each other again in 1979 in South Bend, with Clemson prevailing in that contest.
To watch the Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Clemson Tigers Top 15 college football showdown live online, go to ESPN3, the online-only channel in the ESPN network, which will carry the game live at this link. ESPN3 is free to subscribers of most major internet service providers and many minor ISPs, as well. For a full list, check this link.
[Images: Jon Durr / Andy Lyons / Joe Robbins / Getty Images]