Clemson vs. Louisville prediction: Can the Cardinals keep it close?


by - Senior Writer -
Clemson vs. Louisville prediction: Can the Cardinals keep it close?

No. 2 Clemson enters Saturday’s game against Louisville as a heavy favorite. How heavy? The 39-point spread stands as the largest-ever point spread for the Tigers in an ACC game, breaking the 36 set against Duke back in 2000.

Will it be a blowout or will a Cardinal team that Dabo Swinney says is the best 2-6 team in the nation keep it close?

We find out Saturday as the Tigers have yet another high noon kickoff.

LOUSIVILLE (2-6, 0-5) AT NO. 2 CLEMSON (8-0, 5-0)

When: Noon Saturday

Where: Memorial Stadium (79,560), Clemson

TV: ABC: Spectrum (13, 713 HD), DirecTV (13), Dish (8180)

Radio: 105.5 WCCP-FM, 97.7 ESPN Upstate, SiriusXM 193 (Home), 201 (Away)

Spread: Clemson by 38 1/2

Tailgating/Parking: Parking lots open at 6 a.m. Saturday.

SERIES HISTORY

OVERALL: Clemson leads series, 4-0

HOME: Clemson leads series, 2-0

ROAD: Clemson leads series, 2-0

LAST MEETING: Sept. 16, 2017 (47-21, W)

STREAK: Clemson, Won 4

NOTABLE

*Saturday's pregame will mark a milestone for a unique Clemson tradition, as the Tigers will complete "the most exciting 25 seconds in college football" for the 400th time in history. The Tigers have run down The Hill prior to every home game since 1942 with exception of the 1970-71 seasons, the first four games of 1972 and the first game of 1973.

* Louisville holds a 16-52-1 all-time record against teams ranked in the Associated Press top 25 after the loss to Alabama. Louisville faced Alabama, the No. 1 team in the nation, and will face No. 2 Clemson this weekend — the first time the Cardinals have played the top two ranked teams in the same season. The Cardinals will be facing a pair of top-five opponents in the same year for the first time since 2016 — beating No. 2 Florida State 63-20 and falling 42-36 at No. 5 Clemson. 8 Head coach Bobby Petrino owns a record of 5-16 versus ranked opponents during his tenure at Louisville, which includes a win over No. 2 Florida State in 2016.

* Since trailing Syracuse, 16-7, at halftime on Sept. 29, Clemson has outscored opponents 183-27, including a 163-20 scoring advantage in three games in the month of October. Clemson's 47.7-point differential in October was its largest in any month with multiple games in program history, surpassing a 44.5-point average differential in two games in September 1950.

WHEN LOUISVILLE HAS THE BALL

The Cardinals have playmakers at the wide receiver spot and had success in last week’s loss at Wake Forest. Quarterback Jawon Pass threw for a career-best 358 yards and totaled 392 yards of total offense in the loss. The Columbus, Ga., native also set career highs with 30 completions and 54 attempts. The 54 passing attempts were the second most in a game by a Louisville player without an interception behind only Brian Brohm’s record of 58 attempts versus Utah on Oct. 5, 2007. Wide receiver Jaylen Smith logged the seventh 100- yard receiving game of his career and the second this season finishing with 107 yards on eight catches becoming just the 10th Louisville player with that total. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that Louisville is 119th nationally in rushing, averaging less than four yards per carry and just 113 yards per game on the ground. If the Cards are one-dimensional, the Clemson defense can stop the run and tee off on Pass, making it a long day for the Louisville offense.

ADVANTAGE: CLEMSON

WHEN CLEMSON HAS THE BALL

The Cardinals are in the midst of one of their worst losing streaks in a long time,and looking at some of the key statistics — it’s easy to see why. Louisville is allowing 43.0 points per game during this streak, giving up over 50 points on two occasions. The Cardinals are being outscored 112-34 in the second half over the last five games. Opponents have dominated the Cardinals on the ground, averaging 288.2 yards per game over the last five, including 17 rushing touchdowns. Wake Forest ran for 368 yards and five touchdowns in the 56-35 win last weekend.

Clemson has now scored 163 points in its last three games, the team’s most points in a three-game span in ACC play since scoring 163 against Duke, Maryland and NC State in 2012. -Clemson has won its last three games by margins of 60, 34 and 49 points. Clemson has now won three straight games by at least 34 points for only the second time in school history and the first time since the first three games of the 2000 season. Clemson has now gained 450 yards of offense in six straight games for the first time since a 12-game streak spanning the final 11 games of 2015 and the opener in 2016.

What does that mean for the Cardinal defense, a defense that sits 101st nationally? It means it’s a long day.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Louisville junior kicker Blanton Creque is 6-for-6 on field goal attempts this season — one of only five kickers in the country to be perfect. Dating back to last season, Creque has made eight-straight field goals — the last miss coming versus Mississippi State in last season’s Taxslayer Bowl. Junior punter Mason King stands 67th nationally in punting average and is seventh in the ACC with a 41.1 average after seven games. 8 Of his 45 punts, four have been over 50+ yards, 13 have landed inside the opposition’s 20-yard line and 13 have been fair caught. Rodjay Burns ranks third nationally and is first in the ACC in punt return average, posting a 16.4 yards per return mark. He added an impressive 45-yard return in the loss to Wake Forest on Oct. 27, the second longest of his career.

Clemson lost kicker Greg Huegel to an injury last week – he is expected back this week – but BT Potter filled in admirably and has a bright future. The Tigers continue to struggle at times with punts – one went for 14 yards last week – but the return teams are getting better.

ADVANTAGE: SLIGHT TO LOUISVILLE

WHAT WILL HAPPEN

The only thing that can stop Clemson is complacency. Louisville simply doesn’t have the horses on either the offensive line or defensive line to match up with the Tigers. Clemson had five sacks against FSU last week and allowed minus-21 yards on the ground. Louisville is last in the ACC and 119th in the nation in sacks allowed. They are also 119th in rushing offense. Against a Clemson defense that is among the nation’s leaders in both sacks and rushing defense, those stats don’t bode well.

Clemson will score early. Clemson will score often. Clemson will play a lot of players. We’ve seen this movie several times over the last few weeks, and Saturday we get a re-run.

FINAL SCORE: CLEMSON 52, LOUISVILLE 6


GUEST PREDICTIONS

Mickey Plyler - 6-9 AM on WCCP 105.5FM - 48-7 Clemson

Tony Crumpton - Associate Editor - 55-7 Clemson

Nikki Hood - Staff writer - 63-10 Clemson

Brandon Rink - Staff writer - 62-16 Clemson

Hannah Rogerson - TigerNet Intern - 51-7 Clemson

Pigskin Prophet - 63-3 Clemson

Game Actual David Hood Mickey Plyler Tony Crumpton Nikki Hood Brandon Rink Hannah Rogerson Pigskin Prophet
Furman 48-7 CU 54-9 CU 55-10 CU 52-7 CU 49-7 CU 55-3 CU 28-7 CU 52-3 CU
Texas A&M 28-26 CU 27-13 CU 34-17 CU 31-17 CU 28-13 CU 34-16 CU 31-20 CU 31-16 CU
GA Southern 38-7 CU 47-10 CU 42-10 CU 51-13 CU 38-7 CU 45-10 CU 32-10 CU 48-9 CU
GT 49-21 CU 31-14 CU 37-17 CU 31-14 CU 38-21 CU 38-14 CU 32-10 CU 38-13 CU
Syracuse 27-23 CU 45-17 CU 51-21 CU 48-21 CU 42-17 CU 48-20 CU 42-10 CU 45-20 CU
Wake 63-3 CU 38-17 CU 41-21 CU 31-16 CU 34-17 CU 45-17 CU 42-14 CU 38-16 CU
NCSU 41-7 CU 41-17 CU 41-20 CU 35-20 CU 35-17 CU 38-20 CU 31-28 CU 38-14 CU
FSU 59-10 CU 38-13 CU 37-17 CU 38-17 CU 35-17 CU 34-20 CU 34-12 CU 45-10 CU
Points - 10 8 8 17 10 10 10

* Points: 3 pts for best prediction of the week (tiebreaker is Clemson score), 2 pts for picking score exactly, 1 pt for picking the correct winner

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