In what is looking like it’s shaping up to be the Game of the Day, the defending national champion Clemson Tigers travel to Louisville for a date with the Cardinals. Lamar Jackson has his stage, now let’s see if he can put out a clutch performance against the Tigers. It’s a big game for a few reasons for Jackson. As a team, Louisville needs a win like this to jump in the top-10. He can also bolster his Heisman resume in an attempt to repeat, and NFL scouts will be looking closely at Jackson in this matchup. Clemson has what I’d say is a top-3 defense in college football. I have Alabama at 1, and then Clemson following closely behind the Crimson Tide.
They are fast and athletic, especially up front of the defensive line which is a top-flight unit. The Tigers stifled Auburn in a 14-6 win last week, allowing Jarrett Stidham to pass for just 79 yards. Between Kent State in Week 1 and Auburn, the Tigers have given up just 9 points thus far this season. Could their defense be better than last year? It could be, it’s at least as good, I know that much. If you watched Louisville in Week 1 against Purdue, you know that their offensive line is going to need to do a much better job.
The Cardinals’ first-year center had all kinds of problems getting the snap off properly. They also had issues with false starts, which came on every drive it felt like. This goes back to their center having issues snapping the ball when he was supposed to, too. Slop like that isn’t going to work against one of the best defensive lines in college football. Clemson will eat them up. The offense looked crisp against UNC, though, easily handling their defense for 47 points in a 47-35 win. The 35 points allowed is a little concerning, but they seemed to fix what was hindering them in Week 1 on offense. Get our free Clemson vs. Louisville college football pick below.
Clemson Tigers vs. Louisville Cardinals Betting Odds:
vs. Louisville +3(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Clemson vs. Louisville Pick:
Lamar Jackson is going to dance around and do his thing in this game, but he’s going to need a little help from his offensive line. Jackson can only juke and jive for so long before Clemson zeroes in on him. The offensive line is going to need a solid game to win this one. At the moment, Lamar and Baker Mayfield, I have to guess, are close in the Heisman race. A standout performance against Clemson today would give him an edge in my opinion. Clemson has a much better defense than Ohio State in 2017. So, what Mayfield did is impressive, if Jackson cracks this Clemson defense, I’d be impressed.
Clemson is 1st defending the pass, allowing just 40 yards per game. Shutting down Stidham isn’t as easy as some people make it out to be. He is a good enough quarterback to put up big numbers on defenses. The Tigers were having none of it and nullified his presence on the field. Their defense has also accumulated 11 sacks on opposing quarterbacks. All 11 came against Auburn. Yes, 11 sacks in a single game. Overall, they’re giving up 119 yards per game for 2nd in the nation. Air Force is 1st but haven’t played anyone yet.
Offensively the Tigers will be fine in the hands of Kelly Bryant. Bryant watched Deshaun Watson go and win a National Championship a year ago, and now it’s his turn in the saddle. Much like Watson, Bryant is a dual-threat that can do a lot of things well. Louisville has given up 373 yards per game against Purdue and UNC for 73rd in the country.
Nothing they’ve done has looked too great. It should allow Bryant to make enough plays for Clemson in this one. However, the greatest mismatch is going to be the defensive line of Clemson going up against the Louisville offensive line. Particularly, redshirt freshman Robbie Bell is going to have a heck of a time trying to slow them down. Clemson gets a big win on the road, shutting the door on a huge opportunity for Lamar Jackson and Louisville.
PICK: CLEMSON -3 (-110)