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Book it: This week’s free college football pick (Clemson vs. Notre Dame)

Clemson nearly beat Notre Dame without QB Trevor Lawrence, on the road no less, before losing in two OTs, 47-40, back on Nov. 7.

Lawrence is back this time around for the ACC championship game Saturday night in Charlotte. Clemson is favored by 10 points, and the feeling here is that the Tigers are going to pound the Fighting Irish.

Dabo Swinney has seen what Notre Dame has, and he has his star quarterback for this game. Clemson’s defense didn’t play well in the first meeting, but look for things to be different in the rematch.

Clemson routed Pitt, 52-17, then Virginia Tech, 45-10, to close the regular season. Lawrence was back for those games, and the Tigers’ offense was sharp.

Notre Dame is going to be in the College Football Playoff regardless of what happens in this game, even with a loss. The same cannot necessarily be said about Clemson, which could still get in, but the belief here is that it would be on the outside looking in.

That gives Clemson all the motivation in the world here. And we’ve seen time and time again that when Clemson is motivated, it usually destroys teams.

The pick: Clemson -10

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Prediction: Clemson 37, Notre Dame 23

Season record: 8-5-1

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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