#11 Clemson (2-0, 0-0) at Louisville (0-2, 0-0)
When: Thursday, September 17th, 2015
Where: Papa John’s Stadium, Louisville, KY
Time: 7:30 ET
TV: ESPN Radio: XM 81, 84
The Louisville Cardinals open up ACC play tonight at home against 11th ranked Clemson at Papa John’s Stadium. Louisville sits at 0-2 already and really need a win tonight to boost their confidence. They opened up the season with a 31-24 loss at Auburn which is understandable, but then they lost at home to Houston 34-31 as 13.5 point favorites. In that game the Cardinals allowed Houston to rack up 462 yards of total offense including 226 on the ground. Louisville is now ranked 100th in points allowed and 106th in rushing defense. It will be interesting to see how they try and stop Clemson’s offense. On offense QB Lamar Jackson has not looked very good. He’s completed only 55% of his passes with only 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions in two games. He does lead the team in rushing with 122 yards followed by RB Brandon Radcliff who’s averaging 4.4 yards a carry. The ACC Atlantic Division is going to come down to Clemson, Florida State, and this Louisville team and right now Louisville doesn’t look like they can compete. That could all change with a win tonight.
The Clemson Tigers are coming off two easy wins against FCS opponents Wofford and Appalachian State, 49-10 and 41-10. Those wins padded their stats and rank them 12th in points allowed and 4th in passing defense out of 128 teams. Not surprisingly also, QB Deshaun Watson has some great numbers. He’s 37-of-48 for 442 yards and 5 touchdowns. Sophomore running back Wayne Gallman is averaging 5.9 yards a carry to go along with his 3 touchdowns. Those were easy warm-up games for Clemson who finally get tested tonight in Louisville. After that they play Notre Dame and Georgia Tech. Coach Dabo Swinney is looking for his 5th straight 10+ win season at Clemson. They’ve also won their last 2 Bowl games under Swinney. Clemson fans are looking for more and this could be the year. They get Florida State at home on November 7th which could decide who goes to the ACC Championship Game.
Look, I know Clemson is the better team even though they haven’t been tested yet. Louisville has been tested and they don’t look good. This game opened at 4.5 at most places and has been bet up to 6 as I write this (Tuesday). Right now, 70% of the betting public is on Clemson. Something tells me that this will be a closer game than expected. I’ll take Clemson to win by 3 or 4.
Pick: Louisville +6