Check out the Louisville vs. Clemson fearless prediction and game preview.
Louisville (4-0) vs. Clemson (4-0) Game Preview
Date: Saturday, Oct. 1
Game Time: 8:00 pm
Venue: Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC
Why Louisville Will Win
The Clemson offense still hasn’t really let it rip, and don’t mention South Carolina State.
The Tigers are 4-0, and they’ve gotten through good road games at Auburn and Georgia Tech, and as it turns out, a better game than it looks against Troy, but they haven’t been able to put it all together quite yet.
The running game has been okay, but hardly sensational. Last year the Clemson ground game took off for 200 yards or more in four of the first five games and finished the year averaging almost five yards per carry. So far, the Tiger ground game high point against FBS teams came against Auburn with 151 yards, but the big dashes haven’t been there compared to last season – and it’s not going to start this week.
The line isn’t generating enough of a push, and Watson has had to try carrying the attack all by himself at times – and he hasn’t quite been Watson yet, even with a good performance against Georgia Tech.
As good as the Louisville offense has been, and as great as Lamar Jackson might be, the defense has been almost as solid holding teams to just three yards per carry including Dalvin Cook and Florida State. And why? The pass rush has been phenomenal.
The Cardinals are living in opposing backfields with a whopping 34 tackles for loss so far and 15 sacks. Watson might be great under pressure, but he’s going to have to operate the Clemson offense at a faster pace and a sharper level than it’s been at so far.
Why Clemson Will Win
The same defensive principles that worked for the Georgia Tech game should work against Jackson and the Cardinal attack.
Obviously there are apples and egg salad sandwich differences in the offensive styles between the Yellow Jackets and Cardinals, but the key is keeping Lamar Jackson and the running backs from doing big things in wide open spaces. Against the Georgia Tech option, the linebackers have to stay disciplined, there has to be a pass rush from the outside to slow down things from going wide, and there needs to be the swarm to cut everything off.
Florida State was too banged up on the outside and poor in the interior early on against the Cardinal attack, and the ball steamrolled. So far, despite facing that loaded Georgia Tech offense and the Auburn O that – in theory – is supposed to be able to run, Clemson has allowed just 2.6 yards per carry with Troy the only O to hit the 100-yard mark.
For the first time all season long, the Cardinals will have to deal with adversity. How will they handle not cranking out huge run and big play after huge run after big play? The coaches have done everything possible to crank up the intensity for a full four quarters, but there’s a difference between trying to do that against Marshall and Charlotte and in Death Valley against a team coming off a national title appearance.
What’s Going To Happen?
It might be the Heisman candidate vs. Heisman candidate moment with Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson each making their case, but it’ll be the Clemson defense that gets the love.
Jackson will show he can ball as a pocket passer when he isn’t taking off, but Watson will step up and prove he can play a little, too. The difference will be a second straight phenomenal performance from the Clemson defensive front seven that’ll finally solve the Cardinal puzzle just enough – but not stop it cold – in a thriller that lives up to the hype and potential.
Louisville vs. Clemson Prediction
Final Score: Clemson 37, Louisville 31
Line: Louisville -2, o/u: 67.5
ATS Confidence: 5: Treasure Bath – 1: Nahhhh … 2
Must See Rating: 5: Nicki Minaj T-Mobile ads – 1: Storks … 5