No. 3 Louisville Cardinals (4-0 SU, 3-0-1 ATS) vs. No. 5 Clemson Tigers (4-0 SU, 2-2 ATS)
College Football Week 5
Date/Time: Saturday, October 1st, 8:00PM (EST)
Where: Memorial Stadium Clemson, S.C.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: LOU +2/CLEM -2
Over/Under Total: TBA
The biggest game of the weekend and arguably of the season goes down this Saturday when the No. 3 Louisville Cardinals go into Death Valley for a date with the no. 5 Clemson Tigers. I dont think anyone would have envisioned the importance that this game holds before the year began. Most expected Clemson and Florida State to be the teams battling it out for ACC power. However, thanks to the Cardinals explosive start to 2016 this game has ACC Championship and College Football Playoffs implications written all over it.
Last year, Clemson was college footballs Cinderella team that took the media by storm thanks to quarterback Deshaun Watson and an explosive Tigers offense that took Clemson to the doorsteps of a National Championship. This year it is Louisville who has taken over Cinderellas slippers with their own quarterback who has emerged as one of the hottest players in the country in quarterback Lamar Jackson. Now we have the ingredients for a classic college football game with two very explosive offenses that have two of the best quarterbacks in the nation at the helm ready to battle it out in a primetime affair this Saturday. What could be any better?
Currently the line for this game is pretty even with Clemson favored by a mere two points. The Cardinals have been great against the number this year going 3-0-1 ATS while Clemson sports a 2-2 mark ATS. I think this game boils down to just a few basic questions. Which defense can step up and which offense can make the big plays? The Tigers defense took a big step forward in their Thursday night win over Georgia Tech last week 26-7. I thought the Tigers young defense may struggle a bit with Georgia Techs triple option but that was not the case. Instead, Clemsons defensive line consistently knocked Georgia Tech off the ball and disrupted the Yellow Jackets running game.
The performance I seen from Clemsons defensive line last week lets me know that they can win this game this Saturday despite the medias love for Louisville at the moment. The Cardinals entire offense surrounds the playmaking ability of quarterback Lamar Jackson. Make no mistakes about it, Jackson is an incredible athlete and his numbers thus far are nothing short of remarkable with 1,330 passing yards, 13 touchdowns, and 3 picks in the air and 526 yards with 12 touchdowns on the ground. Louisville has a lot of talent on their team but this offense revolves around Jackson. He opens plays up for the rest of the offense.
If Clemson can win the battle up front on the defensive line, they have a chance at containing Jackson. However, it is imperative that they win the battle upfront. If they fail to do so, Louisville will have yet another huge offensive performance and Clemson has not shown the explosive factor on offense so far this year that leads me to believe they can survive a shootout with Louisville. Clemson has all the weapons on offense to put up big numbers but they just have not been quite as effective this year in the big play department.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson has hit 60% of his passes for 996 yards with 9 scores and 4 picks this season which is a good bit down from his blistering 2015 pace. Running back Wayne Gallman has just 256 yards through the first 4 games which is way down from his 1,500 yard campaign from a year ago. Additionally, WR Artavis Scott had just less than 1,000 yards receiving in 2015 but has just 16 grabs for 143 yards so far this season. Therefore, Clemson has to get some things rolling again on the offensive side of the ball. Clemson averaged nearly 40 points per game last year and has averaged just 25 points through their first 3 games against FBS competition. Therefore many want to watch this game to see if Louisville is the real deal, I am watching to see if Clemson is still that good or if they are still riding on the coattails of their 2015 success.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I am just not convinced in this Clemson team this year. I think Louisville is really good and I would never under estimate Bobby Petrinos play calling ability in a game of this magnitude. Take Louisville +2
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