3. Clemson RB Travis Etienne vs. Notre Dame Run Defense (Cotton Bowl)
Despite the growth that true freshman QB Trevor Lawrence made as a passer in 2018, the Tigers’ offense starts and ends with the ground game. All season, Clemson was most effective running the ball out of run-pass option formations, averaging 7.7 yards per attempt, which ranks among the top five teams in the country (PFF). Not to mention, no running back has more yards than the Tigers’ very own Travis Etienne’s 835 on RPOs.
Etienne is the centerpiece to Clemson’s offense. He rushed for the most yards in the ACC and fifth-most in the FBS this year with 1,464. In addition, the sophomore averaged 5.3 rushing yards per attempt, the fifth best out of all starting FBS running backs.
Etienne’s elusiveness stands out as a steep test for the Irish’s run defense, which comes into the Cotton Bowl ranked 18th in Def. Rushing S&P+ and 31st in rushing yards allowed per attempt (3.68).