Third-ranked Clemson takes on No. 4 Louisville in just the second top 5 meeting in the history of Death Valley. The game will kick off at 8 p.m. and will be broadcast by ABC.
Here are five numbers to watch in Clemson’s matchup with the Cardinals on Saturday…
9: Margin of victory for Clemson against Louisville over the past two seasons. Of all the teams the Tigers have beaten since the start of the 2014 campaign, this is the smallest margin of victory. In fact, the next smallest margin is 20 points against Syracuse. The list doesn’t include Georgia Tech (-3) and Florida State (4) because Clemson lost one of its meetings with those two teams. History suggests the Cardinals and Tigers will play a nail-biter, as both previous ACC meetings between the two teams have featured last-minute drives by Louisville that were thwarted by Clemson.
10: Giveaways for the Louisville offense so far in 2016. If there is a weakness in the Cardinals’ impressive attack, it is a propensity to be sloppy with the football. In three of Louisville’s four games, its offense has turned the ball over exactly three times. That includes six fumbles that have come in pairs and one interception in each of the team’s four contests thus far. Louisville’s best game in terms of hanging onto the ball was the Florida State matchup, when one interception was the only turnover. Meanwhile, Clemson has turned its opponents over nine times over its first four games. The Tigers have a +3 turnover margin, whereas the Cardinals are -3 in that regard. It’s clear that being flippant with the football isn’t a recipe for success on Saturday.
19: Artavis Scott receptions in two career games against Louisville. The junior has seen the ball quite a bit when he has faced off against the Cardinals. As a freshman in 2014, he caught ten balls for 66 yards. As a sophomore, he snagged nine passes for 40 yards. Many of those receptions came as a part of the horizontal passing game, an advantage the Tigers have seen fit to exploit in Todd Grantham’s defense in the past. Scott has been relatively quiet this season, hauling in 16 passes for 143 yards in four games. Both of those numbers rank third on the team behind Mike Williams and Ray-Ray McCloud. This matchup seems like a prime spot for Scott to re-emerge as a featured asset in Clemson’s offensive plan.
37.5: Point responsibility per game for Lamar Jackson this season. Jackson has taken the nation by storm during the season’s first month, scoring touchdowns at a rate that is probably unsustainable but is amazing to watch while it lasts. The super sophomore quarterback has accounted for 25 touchdowns (13 passing, 12 rushing) and is averaging more points per game than an incredible 87 teams from around the country. That number includes Clemson, which is ranked seventh in the ACC averaging 33.5 points per game.
115: Snaps for linebacker Jalen Williams this season. The sophomore has one start under his belt this season, and his 13 total tackles rank inside the top ten for the Tigers. Williams is among the most valuable reserves on Clemson’s defense, but a knee injury will sideline him for Saturday’s game. This could present a problem for Brent Venables’ unit when it comes to effectively managing a rotation throughout the game against such a prolific offense. Perhaps the most valuable aspect of Williams’ game is his ability to play all three linebacker positions, meaning he could spell different starters at different times without having to play a separate backup. His presence allows Venables to use a shorter bench and still keep his top-line guys fresh. It will be interesting to see if Venables chooses to play his starters for longer stretches or if he decides to go to his second unit in spite of Williams’ absence.