For just the second time in the 74-year history of Clemson Memorial Stadium it will host a top 5 matchup on Saturday. Also, for the first time in the stadium’s rich history two Heisman Trophy contenting quarterbacks will battle it out.
For the fourth time in the last four years, ESPN’s College GameDay will broadcast live from Clemson’s Bowman Field to hype Saturday’s ACC Atlantic Division Showdown between No. 3 Clemson and No. 4 Louisville.
In other words, Clemson will be alive all week. However, none of that matters to the Clemson Tigers. They have been down this road several times before, and this Saturday is all about one thing … beating Louisville.
“To have a matchup like this, ESPN College Gameday and all of that stuff, they are all big, you hear me say that all of the time,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “But from time to time you get one that has a little more pizazz with it and a little bit of a side show with it. That is kind of what this week’s about. I know our fans love that.
“For us, it’s just business as usual, and trying to get ready to play. I am happy for our fans to have the opportunity to experience a game like this. For us, it’s a division game.”
But it’s more than just a division game. The winner will gain control of the ACC Atlantic and have the inside track to the ACC Championship Game. The loser, though still in the conversation, is unlikely to make it to the College Football Playoff.
“We are not thinking about any of that right now. Yes, it is a big game because it is a division game,” Clemson center Jay Guillermo said. “Winning this game can help us achieve our next goal, which is winning the division. That’s all we are focused on is winning this game.”
Swinney could not agree more.
“This is a huge game because it is in the division and both teams are undefeated and trying to stay that way,” he said. “This is also a great team that we are playing. Louisville is definitely the best we’ve played to this point. They are a complete football team in every aspect when you really break it down and they are playing at a very high level right now.”
The Cardinals (4-0) are averaging 63.5 points and 682.0 yards of total offense per game. They have scored at least 59 points in all four games, including 63 in their victory over No. 12 Florida State two weeks ago.
“It is really kind of freaky when you look at the numbers that they’ve put up. It would be hard to have these kinds of numbers in a video game,” Swinney said. “They are averaging 63 points a game along with 682 yards a game. They are balanced.
“The biggest thing that jumps out at you when you are watching them is all of the big plays.”
Louisville has recorded a national high 41 plays of 20 or more yards already this season, and the season is only four games in.
“They are averaging nine yards a play, 17 per catch and 7.8 yards a run. They are just a huge big play offense right now that is playing with a lot of confidence and playing very well,” Swinney said.
Of course, it all starts with Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, who leads the nation with 25 touchdowns and is second in the country in total yards with 1,856.
“It obviously starts with their quarterback. He is a great player,” Swinney said. “Watching him last year, you can tell that this guy is going to develop into a nice player as he was learning their system as a freshman.
“We played them early (last year), but later on in the year we studied some other Louisville tape, getting ready for other opponents, and you could tell this kid’s light is coming on for him. He is just a dynamic guy. He is explosive. A lot of people think he is just a scrambler that will drop back, if it’s not there then he just scrambles and makes big plays. But they have a ton of designed runs for him and he is tough. That is one thing that jumps out at me when watching this guy is his toughness.”