Louisville (4-0, 2-0) at Clemson (4-0, 1-0)
When: Saturday, October 1st 2016
Where: Clemson Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC
Time: 8:00 ET | TV: ABC
Two dynamic offenses will meet Saturday night as the Clemson Tigers host the Louisville Cardinals in a battle of top-5 teams from the ACC. Clemson started the season out slow offensively, but have turned it up over the last few weeks and should be ready for the Louisville attack. The Tigers have won 18 consecutive regular-season games, 18 straight home games and 10 straight against ACC opponents. Clemson’s offense is led by quarterback Deshaun Watson, who is 22-2 as a starter and ranks third on the Tigers’ all-time passing list. Watson has put up solid passing numbers, but the Tigers could use more of a contribution from running back Wayne Gallman, who has averaged just 44.3 rushing yards over the past three games. The defense for Clemson could be stronger than last year’s squad as they rank third in the country in total defense after their dominating effort in last week’s 26-7 victory at Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets gained just 124 yards of total offense and just seven first downs. The Tigers also rank third against the pass, an area that will be tested on Saturday.
The runaway Heisman Trophy favorite Lamar Jackson has already beaten a top-5 team (Florida State 63-20), but will get his first big road test on Saturday. Jackson and the Cardinals managed just 272 total yards – 19 on the ground – in last year’s 20-17 home loss to Clemson. This year’s squad leads the nation in total offense (682 yards a game) and scoring offense (63.5). Jackson has accounted for 25 touchdowns (13 passing, 12 rushing) through four games and running back Brandon Radcliff has topped 100 yards rushing in three straight games. The Cardinals’ huge offensive numbers have overshadowed a strong defense, which has held three of four opponents under 300 total yards and are ranked 13th in the nation in total defense. Louisville, which defeated then-No. 2 Florida State on September 17th, has never faced two top-five teams in the same season. This will be Louisville’s last test before a date in Houston on November 17th.
I don’t know how anyone can stop Louisville right now, but Clemson could be up to the task. The Tigers’ defense is still underrated and the offense is starting to click. I’m surprised that Louisville is favored on the road. Clemson has won 18 regular-season games in a row. I can’t go against them here.
Pick: Clemson +2