Louisville at No. 2 Clemson
Two years ago, Louisville came to Clemson ranked No. 3 in the country and led by the most dynamic quarterback in the country in Lamar Jackson. It was just the second top 5 matchup in the history of Death Valley at the time.
Now, two years later, Clemson is still doing its thing with a different set of players on offense and a few familiar faces on defense, while the Cardinals have fallen on hard times.
When second-ranked Clemson and Louisville kick off at high-noon Saturday at Death Valley, the Cardinals will be trying to avoid losing its sixth straight game and its seventh overall. Louisville comes into the game as the only team in the ACC not to win a conference game.
Louisville has not lost six consecutive games since 1998.
Where: Memorial Stadium, Clemson
Records: Clemson 8-0, 5-0 ACC; Louisville 2-6, 0-5 ACC
When: Saturday, noon
Radio: 105.5 in the Upstate (Clemson Tigers Radio Network); Sirius XM Radio Ch. 103; 193
Latest Line: Clemson (minus-39)
Series: Clemson leads the series 4-0
Streak: Clemson has won four straight
Last year: Clemson won, 47-21, at Louisville
Three story lines
With a win, Clemson can move within a game of clinching the ACC Atlantic Division Championship and advance to next month’s ACC Championship Game in Charlotte. A win would mean the Tigers will have an opportunity to win their seventh division title under head coach Dabo Swinney when they travel to Boston College next Saturday.
Clemson is attempting to open a season 9-0 for the fifth time in program history and the third time in the last four years (1948, 1981, 2015 and 2016). Clemson earned conference titles in all of the previous four seasons in which it opened 9-0.
Clemson (163 points in the last three games) needs 45 points to match or 46 points to break the team record for points in a four-game span, set in 1900 (208). That four-game stretch in 1900 featured point totals of 39, 12 and 35 prior to a 122-0 win vs. Guilford.
Louisville players to watch
Jawon Pass, QB: He threw for a career-high 358 yards and totaled 392 yards of total offense in last week’s loss to Wake Forest. The Columbus, Ga., native also set career highs with 30 completions and 54 attempts. The 54 passing attempts were the second most in a game by a Louisville player without an interception. Pass is averaging 283.3 yards per game, throwing five touchdown passes and tossing three interceptions since being replaced as the starter against Virginia.
Jaylen Smith, WR: He logged the seventh 100-yard receiving game of his career and the second this season finishing with 107 yards on eight catches against Wake, becoming just the 10th Louisville player with that total. Smith has 2,328 receiving yards in his career.
TuTu Atwell, WR: The freshman set a Louisville record for most receiving yards in a game by a true freshman, breaking the previous record of 106 yards by now Pittsburgh Steelers’ receiver Eli Rogers in 2011. Atwell’s 132 receiving yards are the most for a Louisville player this season.
Louisville scouting report
Louisville ranks last in the ACC in scoring offense at 22.2 points per game and rushing defense (250.6 yds/game). The Cardinals rank 13th in scoring defense (36.2 pts/game), total offense (351.9 yds/game), total defense (438.0) and in rushing offense (116.8) in the 14-team conference. They are also last in turnovers lost (16), turnovers forced (6) and turnover margin (-10). They also anchor the league in sacks allowed (26) and are 13th in tackles for loss (59).
The Cardinals are in the midst of one of their worst losing streaks in a long time,and looking at some of the key statistics — it’s easy to see why. Louisville is allowing 43.0 points per game during this streak, giving up over 50 points on two occasions. The Cardinals are being outscored 112-34 in the second half over the last five games.
Opponents have dominated the Cardinals on the ground, averaging 288.2 yards per game over the last five, including 17 rushing touchdowns. Wake Forest ran for 368 yards and five touchdowns in the 56-35 win last weekend.