No. 3 Clemson Tigers (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS) vs. No. 12 Louisville Cardinals (2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS)
College Football Week 3
Date/Time: Saturday September 16th, 2017 (8:00PM EST)
Where: Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium Louisville, K.Y.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CLEM -3/LOU +3
Over/Under Total: TBA
The two premiere teams in the ACC Atlantic Division will square off against each other at Papa Johns Stadium this Saturday night when the 12th ranked Louisville Cardinals host the no. 3 Clemson Tigers. This showdown is not only between the best two teams in the ACC Atlantic but the best teams in the entire conference. The winner of this Saturdays epic showdown will take a stranglehold lead in the race for an ACC Championship while also catapulting their College Football Playoffs chances. The Tigers faced a big test last week with a 14-6 victory over Auburn but now they will have their first big road trip of the season as 3 point favorites over the Cardinals.
This game is so intriguing on many different levels. On one side of the field you have the defending National Champions that have replenished talent at the skill positions and one of the best defenses in college football. On the other side of the field you have the defending Heisman Trophy winner in Lamar Jackson who is coming off the heels of a brilliant performance against North Carolina last week. Jackson racked up 393 yards passing for 3 touchdowns and rushed for another 132 yards with 3 additional touchdowns on the ground to lead the Cardinals in a 47-35 victory over the Tar Heels. With the performance, Jackson once again sits at the head of the table amongst Heisman Trophy candidates. However, his seat could be short lived if Jackson falters against the nations top defense and that is just another reason why this game is so intriguing outside of its mere importance for both teams.
Clemsons defense has yet to allow a touchdown this season holding the likes of Kent State and Auburn to a combined 9 points. In last weeks win, Auburn even came up with advantageous turnovers deep inside Clemson territory but still failed to find the endzone. The Tigers defensive line disrupted Auburns rushing attack and Jarrett Stidham did not have time to breath when he attempted to pass. Defensive end Austin Bryant had 4 sacks on Stidham but perhaps more impressive was the fact Clemson racked up a total of 11 sacks as a team on the afternoon. The Tigers defense has emerged as the best looking group in college football and they are going to need another impressive performance to slow down Lamar Jackson.
Jacksons week 2 performance over North Carolina displayed exactly the type of talent that took him to the Heisman Trophy stage last year and when he has time to make plays he is truly unstoppable. The question this week becomes will he have time to make the plays? As good as Louisvilles offense is with Jackson behind center, Clemsons defense has been equally impressive. The key here for Louisville is to hit some quick passes to get Clemson out of the bull rush mentality. If Clemson gets flustered with quick screens and passes, it will open things up for Jackson as the game progresses.
If Jackson is able to make plays against this Clemson defense, do not count the Tigers out. Despite losing so many skill players last year, they have an emerging playmaker in quarterback Kelly Bryant. Bryant is a dual threat quarterback that shares many similarities to Deshaun Watson who led the team to a National Championship last year. If you remember Watson was also a Heisman Trophy Finalists and Bryant is arguably just as good. Bryant may not have the arm capability that Watson had but he has been an even better runner. Last week, Bryant scored Clemsons only two touchdowns with his legs. The passing was not the greatest but he still hit 18 of 29 passing for 181 yards. Obviously the passing needs to progress but Bryant is still very dangerous with the ball in his hands.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I know Clemsons defense is playing on a different level compared to any group in college football but I still like Louisville in this game. The Cardinals and Lamar Jackson can score points. If they can flip the script to put some pressure on Clemsons offense, I think you could see the Tigers inexperience show more than it has so far this year. Even if that does not happen, in a close game I cannot bet against Jackson. Take Louisville +3 – Bet your pick for this game using your credit card at an online bookie where it WILL work for deposits and where you’ll receive a generous 100% signup bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $250! (Example: Deposit $250 and they’ll give you an extra $250 FREE!) Find this great offer at Bovada Sportsbook.