Week three of the 2015 college football season kicks off with a dandy of a Thursday night (7:30 pm ET) matchup featuring a pair of ACC teams that began the year with big aspirations in conference and nationally. The 11th ranked Clemson Tigers (2-0) travel to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, KT to take on the host Louisville Cardinals (0-2) who have not had the start to the season that they have hoped for under head coach Bobby Petrino. The Tigers had a 10-3 record last season under head coach Dabo Swinney, concluding the season with a 40-6 shellacking of Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Louisville went 9-4 last season in Petrino’s first season after re-claiming his position as head coach after disastrous stints in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons and at the University of Arkansas. Louisville wrapped up the year with a 37-14 loss to Georgia in the Belk Bowl.
The Tigers opened their season with a 49-10 win over Wofford and a 41-10 win over another over-matched squad in Appalachian State. Clemson is led offensively by sophomore quarterback Deshaun Watson, who is a dual-threat having thrown for 477 yards with 5 TDs and 1 INT this season.
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The Cardinals began the year with a tough 31-24 loss to Auburn in the Georgia Dome, and last week they suffered a 34-31 loss to Houston at home. The Cardinals have yet to settle on a starting QB, sophomore Reggie Bonnafon started the opener against Auburn and freshman Lamar Jackson started the second game before Bonnafon entered and passed for 157 yards and one TD in the 4th quarter against Houston. Bonnafon is likely to get the opportunity to start.
Clemson vs. Louisville Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Clemson Tigers -6
@ Louisville Cardinals +6
Over 51 (-110)
Under 51 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Clemson vs. Louisville Pick:
Clemson won last season’s meeting between the two teams 23-17 in Death Valley.Clemson is 6-0 ATS in their last 6 September games, 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games overall and 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games on fieldturf. The Cardinals are 17-6 ATS in their last 23 ACC games, but 1-6 ATS in their last 7 home games against a team with a winning road record and 0-6 ATS in their last 6 home games. The under is 5-1 in Clemson’s last 6 ACC games, 9-4 in their last 13 Thursday games and 5-1 in their last 6 games overall. The under is 6-2-1 in Louisville’s last 9 conference games, 10-4 in their last 14 games following an ATS loss and 9-3-1 in their last 13 September games.
The trends against the spread overwhelmingly favor Clemson and are trending against Louisville. The trend on the over/under for both teams tilts toward the under. Louisville flat out has struggled as an underdog in their second stint under Petrino, with their only win as a dog since the 2013 Sugar Bowl coming against a free-falling Notre Dame team last season. Petrino’s crew does not seem to be comfortable this season, on the road or at home.
Clemson has not been tested against two subpar opponents, and this game is make-or-break for Louisville. This is the type of game that could break the trend toward low-scoring games, Pertino must pull out all the stops with his back to the wall and be as aggressive as possible, especially on offense. The total is a tempting play, but with a shaky QB situation for Louisville and a solid situation under center for CLemson the call here has to be the Tigers.