It’s Game Day in Death Valley where No. 3 Clemson hosts No. 4 Louisville in a game that will likely decide the ACC Atlantic Division champ and which team remains in the mix for the College Football Playoff.
Location: Memorial Stadium (Death Valley)
Kickoff: 8:22 p.m.
Announcers: Kirk Herbstreit, Chris Fowler, Samantha Ponder
2016 Record: Clemson 4-0 Louisville 4-0
ACC Record: Clemson 1-0 Louisville 2-0
Series History: Clemson leads 2-0
Last Meeting: Clemson won 20-17 in 2015
2015 Game at Louisville, Kentucky
Clemson 20, Louisville 17
Ninth-ranked Clemson defeated Louisville for the second consecutive year in a close contest, 20-17 on September 17, 2015 at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky. The contest was played on Thursday evening in the Tigers first trip to Louisville for a football game.
Clemson’s defense held Louisville’s offense to just 272 yards, including just 19 rushing, and allowed just one offensive touchdown.
Wayne Gallman was the star for the Tigers with 24 carries for 139 yards, while Deshaun Watson added 12-54. It was a career high rushing total at the time for Watson, who completed 21-30 passes for 199 yards and two scores. Clemson gained 401 yards total, 202 rushing and 199 passing in 70 plays, a 5.7 average.
400th game for Danny Poole
Clemson Athletic Trainer Danny Poole will work his 400th Clemson football game on Saturday when the Tigers face Louisville. He came to Clemson prior to the start of the 1983 season and his first game was against Western Carolina as an assistant athletic trainer under Fred Hoover.
Two weeks ago, Clemson defensive line coach Dan Brooks worked his 400th game as an FBS assistant coach in his career at Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and Clemson. Poole was a student trainer at Western Carolina was finishing up with the Catamounts as a player.
Not only will it be Poole’s 400th game at Clemson it is his 400th consecutive game.
Clemson Starts 4-0
Clemson has started 4-0 for the fourth time in the last six years under Head Coach Dabo Swinney. The Tigers started 8-0 in 2011, 6-0 in 2013 and 14-0 last year. It is the fourth start of at least 4-0 since Swinney became head coach on a full time basis for the 2009 season. Clemson had just five starts of 4-0 or better in the 50 seasons before he took over.
Swinney has now tied Frank Howard for the most starts of at least 4-0 by a Clemson head coach. Howard started at least 4-0 in 1940 (5-0), 1941 (4-0), 1948 (11-0 final record) and 1958 (4-0). Danny Ford and Josh Cody did it three times apiece, Tommy Bowden twice and John Heisman once.
Swinney 9-5 vs. Top 10 Teams
Clemson takes on another top 10 team this Saturday when Louisville, ranked third by AP and fourth by USA Today Coaches, comes to Memorial Stadium. Clemson has had a lot of success against top 10 teams in the Dabo Swinney era. In fact, Clemson is 9-5 under Swinney against teams ranked in the top 10 of at least one of the polls. It is interesting to note that Swinney has not built up this record at home. Only two of the nine wins over a top 10 team have come at home.
Five have been at neutral sites and two in opponent home stadiums.
Clemson Defense Outstanding vs. Georgia Tech
Clemson had one of its best team defensive efforts in decades in the 26-7 win over Georgia Tech on Thursday, September 22. Clemson held Paul Johnson’s team to 124 yards of total offense and just seven points. That included just 95 yards rushing and 29 yards passing. The Yellow Jackets completed just 4-14 passes and had -3 yards passing in the first half.
The 124 yards by Georgia Tech was the fewest for a Paul Johnson coached team. He came to Tech at the beginning of the 2008 season. The 95 yards rushing tied for the third fewest by Tech on the ground under Johnson. The fewest is 71 yards against Clemson in 2015. So two of the top four rush defenses against Johnson coached team have come against Clemson each of the last two years.
Additionally, Clemson held Tech to 2.38 yards per play, the only game Tech has failed to average at least three yards a carry in the Johnson era.
Clemson 4-game Numbers on Offense Improved Compared to Last Year
Clemson is off to a 4-0 start and the Tigers offensive statistics are basically the same or even better than the numbers the team had through four games a year ago. A look to the chart below shows that Clemson has scored the exact same amount of points this year through four games. This years team has 10 more first downs, has averaged 47 more yards of total offense is averaging the exact same yards per play, has a better third down conversion figure and has a better scoring margin.
Comparison of Clemson Offense Through Four games
Category 2015 2016
Record 4-0 4-0
Points 134 134
PPG 33.5 33.5
Scoring Margin +18.7 +22.5
First Downs 84 94
Rushing/Game 194.0 159.5
Passing/Game 211.5 293.0
Total Offense 405.5 452.5
Yards/Play 5.6 5.6
TD Passes 9 11
Total Touchdowns 17 16
Third Down .410 .460
First Half Scoring Margin 87/13 91/13
Swinney vs. ACC Teams
Dabo Swinney is 50-15 overall against ACC teams since he became Clemson head coach. That includes a 48-14 mark in regular season games and 2-1 in ACC Championship games. His .769 winning percentage in ACC games is fifth best in ACC history.
The Clemson head coach has faced 13 different ACC teams since he became head coach in 2008 on an interim basis. That includes Maryland, who is no longer in the league. When the Tigers face Pittsburgh in November, he will have faced a 14th different ACC team.
Swinney has a winning record against every ACC team with the exception of Florida State. Ten of his 15 losses against ACC teams have been against those two schools. He is 5-5 against Georgia Tech and 3-5 against Florida State.
Robert – Clemson 45 Louisville 34
Gavin – Clemson 27 Louisville 24
Kaila – Clemson 31 Louisville 28
Will – Clemson 23 Louisville 20
Qualk – Clemson 31 Louisville 27