No. 11 Clemson Tigers (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS) vs. Louisville Cardinals (0-2 SU, 1-1 ATS)
College Football Week 3
Date/Time: Thursday September 17th, 7:30PM EST
Where: Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium Louisville, K.Y.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CLEM -5.5/LOU +5.5
Over/Under Total: TBA
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ACC Football takes over this Thursday night as the Louisville Cardinals host the no. 11 Clemson Tigers inside Papa Johns Stadium. Louisville has suffered two straight close losses to start the season including a tough match to open the season against no. 6 Auburn. This week the Cardinals continue the search for that first win with their 3rd straight home contest. Meanwhile the Clemson Tigers have got off to a quick 2-0 start as the 11th ranked team in the land. However, the Tigers have beaten the likes of Wofford and Appalachian State meaning this weeks Thursday night battle on the road in Louisville will be their first true test of the year.
Everyone knew that Louisville coach Bobby Petrino was going to have his hands full this year after losing the most starters in the ACC and the 3rd most starters in all of college football from last years team. Still, few would have perceived last weeks upset loss to Houston as near 14 point favorites at home. However, the Cardinals defense just simply could not stay off the field which allowed Houston to rally for 3 2nd half touchdowns. In the end, the Cardinals defense relinquished 462 yards with an equal split between both the pass and the rush which cast some serious concerns for this Thursday nights contest against one of the best offenses in the ACC.
Of course we have really yet to see if Clemson truly has one of the best offenses in the country but that has been the case for the last few years. The Tigers hung 40 plus points in easy victories against inferior opponents like Wofford and Appalachian State in their first few contest. However, this Thursday nights contest against Louisville should be our first true measuring stick of the Tigers offense after losing former offensive coordinator Chad Morris. Morris revolutionized the Tigers offense when he took over in 2011. Before Morris, Clemson was rather mediocre on the offensive side of the ball and it will be interesting to see if his departure to SMU has any immediate impacts.
One thing that is certain is that Clemson has a ton of talent on the offensive side of the ball starting with quarterback Deshaun Watson. Watson is a lethal playmaker and has currently hit 77% of his passes on the season totaling 442 yards with 5 touchdowns and just 1 pick in limited playing time through the first two games. Though Watson has a big time arm, he can also make plays with his feet credited to his tremendous speed. The Tigers offense has a nice balanced attack with running back Wayne Gallman in the backfield. Gallman has racked up 171 yards and 3 touchdowns through the first two games.
We saw how Louisville struggled last week against a balanced offense in Houston which cast doubt on their ability to stay off the field this week against Clemson. The Cardinals must get stops to give their offense a chance and that will likely be determined by the amount of pressure they can get up front on Watson. Offensively, the Cardinals have been pretty solid running the football but they still have major questions at the quarterback position. Starter Lamar Jackson seemingly gives the Cardinals the best option behind center with his running ability. However, Jackson has had a rough start with his arm through the first two games hitting just 55% of his passing for just 1 touchdown and 3 picks.
Backup Kyle Bolin has come off the bench in effort to aid the passing attack but his numbers have been fairly moderate hitting just 10 of 18 passes in limited action for 1 touchdown. Jackson is once again listed as the starter this week and he does give the Cardinals more option with the playbook due to his running abilities. However in order for the Cardinals to beat Clemson this week, they will need the freshman to get into a rhythm throwing the football to establish some consistency. The potential is there for the young quarterback but the question is how long will it take for him to reach it?
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Clemson will be too much to handle in this game on both sides of the ball. This is a nice rebound spot for the Cardinals but they are not good enough to get the job done. Take Clemson -5.5
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