LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Second-ranked Clemson defeated No. 14 Louisville, 47-21, on Saturday night at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Ky. The Tigers improved to 3-0 (1-0 ACC), while the Cardinals fell to 2-1 (1-1).
Here is a look back at how Clemson earned the victory:
Clemson led by 12 points at halftime before blowing the game open after the break. The Tigers scored four touchdowns in the final two quarters, including a 1-yard run by Kelly Bryant, a 39-yard run by Adam Choice, an 81-yard run by Travis Etienne and a 44-yard pick-six by Dorian O’Daniel. Louisville, meanwhile, was held scoreless in the third quarter before finding the end zone twice in garbage time. Lamar Jackson threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to Jaylon Smith and an eight-yard pass to Dez Fitzpatrick in the fourth quarter to make the game appear closer than it was in actuality.
The Tigers never trailed in the game. After stopping Louisville on the game’s opening drive, Clemson went on a 10-play, 79-yard scoring drive for the game’s first touchdown. Bryant capped the drive with an 8-yard run with 9:45 to play in the first quarter. Following an 11-yard touchdown pass from Jackson to Charles Standberry late in the first quarter that tied the game, Clemson regained the lead midway through the second quarter when Greg Huegel converted a 31-yard field goal. Ray-Ray McCloud then caught a 79-yard bomb from Bryant that gave the Tigers a nine-point lead with 4:06 to play in the opening half before Huegel added another field goal to make the score 19-7 at halftime.
Overall, Clemson totaled 613 yards to Louisville’s 433. The Tigers had 25 first downs, converted 9-of-17 third-down attempts and ran 81 total plays. The Cardinals, meanwhile, logged 21 first downs, converted 5-of-16 third-down attempts, ran 69 total plays and committed the only turnover of the game.
Defensively, Clemson posted four sacks and seven tackles for loss. Isaiah Simmons led the team with eight total tackles.
What went right?
A week after passing his first true test as Clemson’s starting quarterback in a win over Auburn, Kelly Bryant passed his first road test of the season. The junior completed 22 of his 32 passing attempts for 316 yards and a touchdown while rushing for two more scores.
On the other side of the ball, the Tigers held Lamar Jackson — who entered the game averaging 505 yards of total offense – to a relatively low total of 381 yards, though he did throw for three touchdowns.
A couple of other positives for Clemson is that it rushed for 297 yards and four touchdowns on 48 attempts, an average of 6.2 yards per carry. Tavien Feaster paced the backfield with 10 totes for 92 yards. Clemson also had a 100-yard receiver for the first time this season in McCloud, who finished with seven catches for 115 yards and a touchdown.
What went wrong?
Not much went wrong for Clemson in this one. However, Huegel missed a 42-yard field goal attempt and also had one of his extra-point tries blocked.
Two plays after a long run by Jackson was called back due to a clipping penalty against Louisville, Clemson made the Cardinals pay when Dorian O’Daniel intercepted a Jackson pass and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown.
O’Daniel’s first career touchdown made the score 26-7 in favor of the Tigers midway through the third quarter and marked the first takeaway for Clemson’s defense since the Fiesta Bowl.
Had Jackson’s run held up, the Cardinals would have been in position to cut into what was a 12-point deficit before O’Daniel’s score.