Louisville, Clemson set for ACC Game of the Year

The Sports Xchange

September 27, 2016 at 9:41 am.

Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals invade Clemson this weekend. Photo Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals invade Clemson this weekend. Photo Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Two weeks after Louisville-Florida State brought the ESPN GameDay crew to campus, the Cardinals will see the same folks again before their game this weekend. Only this time, it’s on the road in one of the toughest venues to play in college football.

The Louisville-Clemson game this week is one of the marquee matchups of the season. The winner will have the inside track to a spot in the ACC championship game, and perhaps the BCS playoff that follows.

The potential of that matchup has been on everyone’s mind for two weeks, and it’s a credit to the Cardinals that they avoided a letdown and demolished Marshall last week 59-28.

“I’ve been in a predicament before when we thought about something else in the future. We ended up losing and I wasn’t having that,” quarterback Lamar Jackson said. “I wanted to focus. We wanted to win. We wanted to play Clemson and be undefeated just like them.”

Jackson himself wasn’t satisfied with his performance, especially after being limited to 62 yards on the ground. Though he threw for 417 yards and five touchdowns, he gave himself harsh marks after the game.

“[I would give it a] F,” he said.

Don’t take any classes that Jackson teaches, with those grading standards.

Clemson-Louisville should live up to its billing. The Tigers haven’t looked as dominating as some expected, but it’s still undefeated and capable of putting up big numbers. Quarterback Deshaun Watson is again a Heisman Trophy contender, along with Jackson, and can outrun cornerbacks down the field, or stop on a dine and wing it over the safeties’ heads. Clemson will be the fastest and most athletic team the Cardinals see in ACC play, except perhaps during their own practices.

Heading on the road to play Marshall is no comparison to Death Valley, but may have served as preparation nonetheless.

“We had to win this game to make next week’s count,” Petrino said after the victory. “We had a good week of practices, and a good travel day and walkthroughs. I think this was a good environment to play in — we know [Clemson] will be loud and tough.”



–Just seven more touchdowns for Lamar Jackson on Saturday, an effort that he wasn’t satisfied with. That said, Clemson is a lot better than Marshall, and the Tigers defense is nothing to sneeze at. If Jackson does it again this weekend in Death Valley, the Heisman Trophy is his for the taking.

–OLB Devonte Fields is one of those players whose stats will never indicate the effect he has on games. He’s been a dominant player on the defensive front, and he’s poised for another big game this weekend.

–CB Zykiesis Cannon has made an impact in his first full season as the starter. He had a career-high nine tackles last week and has been instrumental in preventing the big play.

–S Josh Harvey-Clemons came to Louisville ready to play in these kind of games. The former five-star recruit is enjoying a monster senior season, and appears unflappable on defense. He won’t be fazed by anything he sees on Saturday.

–TE Cole Hikutini had a big game against Marshall, with four catches for 85 yards and a pair of scores. Hikutini has struggled with drops early, but his reemergence as a dependable target makes the offense that makes stronger.