ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit said during the broadcast of Clemson’s 42-36 victory over Louisville on Saturday that Cardinals’ head coach Bobby Petrino said the noise was not going to be an issue for his offense.
He said they were used to playing in loud venues and they would use hand signals and other techniques to counter the noise of the large crowd in Clemson’s Death Valley.
Petrino was wrong.
The noise from the 83,362 fans in attendance played a major role in the Tigers’ win, and you can say helped secure the win.
Trailing with 40 seconds left in the game, and needing a touchdown to win the game, Louisville (4-1, 2-1 ACC) found itself facing a fourth-and-seven from the Clemson nine-yard line. Death Valley was at a fever pitch, as it had been all night, which ultimately caused right guard Kiola Mahoni to jump before the snap.
The false start, his second of the game, pushed the ball back to 14 and made the down and distance a difficult fourth-and-12 yards to get. Losing those five yards proved to be big on the following play.
Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables called a blitz, leaving the flats open where Cardinals’ quarterback Lamar Jackson found wide receiver James Quick in space. However that space closed quickly as Marcus Edmond pushed the senior out of bounds a yard shy of the line to get.
If Mahoni had not jumped, Louisville not only would have gotten the first down, but probably would have landed in the end zone as well. Ultimately, the crowd helped Clemson win the game.
“That’s just Clemson. That’s Clemson. I mean it is just special,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “Our crowd was amazing. You could just feel it.”
Louisville felt it alight. In all, the Cardinals were called for five procedure penalties and one delay of game, and it was all because of the crowd noise.
“That’s the part about playing in Death Valley. The bookies got that one wrong. Death Valley will do that to a lot of people,” Venables said in reference to Louisville’s procedure penalties, while taking a shot at Las Vegas for having the Tigers as a home underdog.
Clemson, thanks to its loud fan base, has now won 19 straight games at home, the longest active home win streak in the country.
Six points or less. Clemson earned its third straight victory over Louisville, all coming by less than six points. It is just the second time in school history that Clemson has defeated the same team by seven points or less in three straight years. The other came against Duke from 1965-67.
31 straight. Clemson rushed for 201 yards on 31 carries on Saturday. The Tigers have now won 31 straight games when rushing for at least 200 yards. The Tigers are 76-0-1 when totaling at least 200 rushing yards and 200 passing yards, while holding an 87-1-1 record when totaling at least 500 yards of total offense.
The Tigers (5-0, 2-0 ACC) threw for 306 yards and totaled 507 overall.
First time for everything. For the first time under Brent Venables, Clemson won a game despite the opposition converting on 50 percent of their third down plays. Louisville was 9-of-18 on third down. The Tigers were 0-6 under Venables the previous six times that occurred. They are 50-2 when they hold the opposition under 50 percent.
Clemson likes playing ranked teams. The Tigers have recorded at least 500 yards of total offense against the last five ranked opponents they have faced. The last game against a ranked opponent in which Clemson did not amass 500 yards of total offense was against Notre Dame last season, when the Tigers managed 296 yards of offense in the 24-22 victory.
Sack masters. The Clemson defense totaled four sacks in the first half, more than Louisville had allowed in the entire season entering the game. Cardinals’ quarterbacks had been sacked just three times total through its first four games of the year. The Tigers finished the game with a season-high-tying five sacks.
Leggett’s the best. Tight end Jordan Leggett scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 31-yard reception in the fourth quarter. With the score, Leggett is the Clemson career leader in touchdowns by a tight end with 13. He finished the game with three catches for 70 yards and the touchdown.
Getting closer. Running back Wayne Gallman rushed for 110 yards, marking the 14th time in his career that he surpassed the 100-yard mark, one shy of the Clemson record. The record is held by Raymond Priester, who rushed for at least 100 yards 15 times from 1994-97.
It’s been a long time. Artavis Scott returned a fourth-quarter kickoff 77 yards to set up a Clemson touchdown. The return was the longest by a Tiger since 2011, when Sammy Watkins went 89 yards on a kickoff return at Maryland.
—Photo Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports