First Deshaun Watson threw three first-half touchdowns to stake Clemson to an 18-point halftime lead. Then Lamar Jackson answered with a touchdown pass and two rushing scores of his own for 26 unanswered points before Watson ended the game with two more touchdowns in a dramatic 42-36 victory in Death Valley.
Over on the Clemson sidelines, Kelly Bryant watched as two of the best quarterbacks in the nation went after each other blow for blow. When the night was done, Watson threw for 306 yards and five touchdowns, while Jackson had 457 total yards.
“It was very exciting to watch because they are two great quarterbacks, an older guy and a younger guy going at it,” Bryant said on Monday. “There were lessons learned during the game so now it is my time to get a little bit of the action so I will see what I can do.”
What Bryant will try to do is not get caught up in all the hoopla surrounding Saturday’s showdown between No. 2 Clemson at No. 14 Louisville. The game is already featured as ESPN’s College GameDay location as well as ABC’s Game of the Week.
After leading the Tigers to a victory over No. 15 Auburn last week, a game in which he totaled 240 of the Tigers 284 yards, in a defensive tussle, many are hyping the Bryant vs. Jackson matchup like they did Watson vs. Jackson.
“Of course the media is going to hype it up, but I’m more focused on me more than versus him,” Bryant said. “I’m just focused on the offense and trying to get the win.”
After two games, Jackson is proving he might be better this year than he was last season when Lamar Mania was sweeping the country. This year, the fanfare and the media circus that went along with it isn’t as big, but Jackson’s numbers most certainly are.
Jackson leads the FBS in total offense (505.0), is fifth in passing (385.0), is 24th in rushing (119.5) and has 8 total touchdowns (5 passing and 3 rushing). He is also completing 64.7 percent of his passes (55-for-85) and most importantly has not thrown an interception or turned the ball over.
“The guy has been developing since his freshman year,” Bryant said. “People just like to see him as a runner, but over the past two games he has been showing off that he has gotten better throwing the ball. He is a Heisman Trophy winner so of course he is a great player. You know he can make the plays with his feet and his arm as well.”
People wonder, after the Tigers (2-0) struggled on offense against Auburn, if Clemson can keep up with Jackson and the Louisville offense, an offense that had over 700 yards against North Carolina.
“Of course we are going to have to bring it, just like every week,” Bryant said. “Some games might be like that and some games we might have to put up points. We are looking to play our best football on Saturday.”
But Bryant said he will not be worried about trying to keep up with what Lamar Jackson is doing. Instead, he is going to worry about the Cardinals defense and figure out ways to help Clemson be productive.
“I don’t think it about it like that. I just try to by ‘Kelly B.’ I try not to get into all of that,” he said. “When you do that, that’s when the pressure comes in and you try to do too much and you’re not playing within the offensive system and not doing your job.
“I’m just going to do my job and try to play my best game.”