Second-ranked Clemson defeated Louisville, 77-16, on Saturday at Death Valley. The Tigers improved to 9-0 (6-0 ACC), while the Cardinals fell to 2-7 (0-6).
Here’s a look back at Clemson’s blowout of Louisville:
Clemson wasted no time taking it to Louisville, scoring early and often in the dominant effort. The Tigers took their opening drive 75 yards down the field on four plays with Travis Etienne capping the possession with a 10-yard touchdown run 75 seconds in. On Clemson’s next possession following a three-and-out by Louisville, Tavien Feaster took a handoff and sprinted 70 yards to the end zone for a 14-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.
The rout was fully on from there, as the Tigers scored three more touchdowns in the second quarter and took a 35-3 lead into the locker room at halftime. Trevor Lawrence tossed touchdown passes to Tee Higgins and Amari Rodgers, and the defense got into the act as well with a 27-yard pick-six from Isaiah Simmons.
Clemson continued to pile on after the break, finding the end zone four more times in the third quarter to make the score 63-9 heading into the fourth. A week after Christian Wilkins ran for a touchdown against Florida State in Clemson’s “Fridge Package” formation, Dexter Lawrence got in on the fun with a 2-yard score out of the same formation. Feaster scored again from 3 yards out on Clemson’s ensuing possession, then backup quarterback Chase Brice hooked up with Trevion Thompson and Justyn Ross for touchdown passes of 6 and 59 yards, respectively.
The Tigers scored their 10th touchdown of the game and reached the 70-point plateau on their first play of the fourth quarter, a 55-yard rush to the end zone by freshman Lyn-J Dixon that put Clemson up 70-9 with 14:52 remaining.
Will Swinney, the son of Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, provided the final 77-16 score when he scored on an 8-yard touchdown with less than nine minutes left.
What went right?
Clemson’s running game, which Louisville had no answer for all day. The Tigers rushed for a whopping 492 yards on 37 carries, an average of 13.3 yards per tote. The Heisman candidate Etienne carried eight times for 153 yards and one touchdown, while Feaster had 101 yards rushing and two scores on six attempts. Dixon and Lawrence added touchdowns on the ground to give the Tigers five rushing scores on the day, and Dixon had 116 yards rushing to give Clemson three 100-yard rushers.
Meanwhile, Clemson’s defense was dominant as usual as it allowed only 312 total yards to the Cardinals, including just 81 yards rushing on 36 carries (2.3 average). The Tigers compiled six sacks and nine tackles for loss, led by linebacker Kendall Joseph, who recorded 10 total tackles, four solo tackles, 1.5 sacks and a pair of tackles for loss. Louisville starting quarterback Jawon Pass was held to just 110 yards passing and was picked off twice by Simmons and Tanner Muse.
The rout afforded Clemson another chance to play a lot of players, including Brice, who went 6-of-7 passing for 110 yards and three touchdowns. Lawrence completed 8-of-12 passes for 59 yards and two scores. Clemson went 7-of-8 on third down, 7-of-7 in the red zone, averaged 11.6 yards per play, 13.3 yards per rush and was penalized only three times in the contest.
What went wrong?
Not much went wrong for the Tigers on this day except for the 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown given up to Louisville’s Hassan Hall late in the third quarter, though the game was already well decided by that point. Clemson gave up its only defensive touchdown of the game on a 10-yard rush by Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham in the fourth quarter, and if you’re being nitpicky, you’d point out that Lawrence threw an interception and Clemson fumbled a couple of times. But there wasn’t much at all to complain about if you’re a Clemson fan.
The game seemed like it was already over when the Tigers got off the bus and ran down the hill. But if you’re looking for a game-changing moment, it might have come early in the first quarter when the score was only 14-0. Louisville put together a 16-play, 73-yard drive that took nearly nine minutes off the clock but was unable to fully capitalize. Instead of potentially cutting its deficit in half with a touchdown, the Cardinals had to settle for 25-yard field goal that made the score 14-3. Clemson went on to pad its lead with a touchdown on its next possession and never looked back as it ran Louisville out of town.