September 17, 2015

Game Prediction - Clemson vs. Louisville

It’s Thursday night. It’s a nationally televised game. It’s a sold out stadium with 55,000 people rooting against you. It’s why players come to Clemson to play football.

Clemson (2-0) takes to the road for the first time Thursday night for the ACC opener against the Louisville Cardinals (0-2), and if the Tigers’ expectations of an ACC championship and College Football Playoff appearance are to remain intact, this game is a must win.

Who has the upper hand? Let’s take a look.

CLEMSON OFFENSE VS. LOUISVILLE DEFENSE: Clemson’s offense got off to a slow start last week against Appalachian State, scoring just three points in the opening quarter, before jumping out to a huge lead at halftime off of several spectacular throws by Deshaun Watson and physical running by Wayne Gallman. Clemson has playmakers all over the field – Watson at quarterback, Gallman in the backfield, Charone Peake and Artavis Scott at wideout – but can the young offensive line block well enough to give the Tigers a chance? This will be Clemson’s toughest test of the season as the Cardinals have NFL talent all over the field on defense – Josh Harvey-Clemons at safety, Sheldon Rankins at defensive end and Devonte Fields at outside linebacker.

Clemson has the players to beat Louisville, but the offense will need to establish the run early to open up the passing lanes for Watson, and more importantly the wide receivers and tight ends will need to have their best blocking effort of the season.



The Cardinals offense has struggled mightily through the first two games of the season, so much so that head coach Bobby Petrino isn’t even sure who the starting quarterback will be in Thursday’s contest. The Cardinals had four turnovers last week against Houston, including two interceptions, and the running game has been anemic at times.

Clemson’s defense is giving up just 3.61 yards per carry, while the pass defense is ranked fifth nationally. If Clemson can get consistent pressure on the Louisville quarterbacks and not allow them to escape contain, it could be a long night for the Cardinals passing attack.


SPECIAL TEAMS: I’ve said it several times so far this season – Clemson has a new punter, place kicker, holder and snapper. How will those guys handle the pressure of playing in front of a raucous crowd? At punter, Andy Teasdall had a solid performance against App. State, but Louisville’s Joshua Appleby has more experience.

Both kickers have struggled as redshirt freshman Greg Huegel is 2-for-3 for Clemson and John Wallace is 2-for-5 for Louisville. Both teams have also struggled in the kickoff department with short kickoffs. This game could come down to field position.


WHAT WILL HAPPEN: On paper, Clemson is the more talented and more experienced team, but how will the 2015 Tigers handle going on the road for the first time? Both teams have freshmen left tackles going up against very good defensive ends. Clemson has the advantage in that they haven’t had a close game and haven’t had to fully show their hand on offense. What kind of wrinkles will offensive coordinators Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott come up with on a short week?

If Clemson can avoid early turnovers and take the crowd out of the game early, they will return home from their first ever trip to Louisville, Kentucky with a victory.


Post written by Clemson Girl Sports Bloggess Nikki Hood

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