The showdown this Saturday night between the Clemson Tigers and Louisville Cardinals should be one for the ages. Reigning Heisman Trophy winner and current Heisman favorite Lamar Jackson, is set to face off against a Clemson defensive front that racked up 11 sacks, including three in a row to seal the game in the fourth quarter, in the team’s impressive showing against the then #13 ranked Auburn Tigers over the weekend.
The ACC Atlantic division rivals will meet in Louisville where Jackson hopes to derail the Tigers’ Playoff hopes and establish a Playoff run of his own. The dual threat monster had a strong showing against an equally dominant Clemson defense, tallying 450 yards of total offense and three total touchdowns in the 42-36 loss. The major difference a season ago was, of course, the Clemson Tiger offense, which was carried by a strong game from running back Wayne Gallman and five touchdown passes from star quarterback Deshaun Watson . Gallman and Watson, among other key offensive pieces, have since moved on the NFL leaving Clemson’s offense a major question mark this year.
All things considered, the pivotal match up of the game is not Jackson against the nasty Clemson defense, but the Louisville defense against an unproven Clemson offense. New starting quarterback Kelly Bryant showed against Auburn he is capable of not losing a big game, but he has yet to show that he is capable of winning one. Bryant will likely have to do more than his textbook “Game Manager” performance against Auburn if he hopes to beat the Cards in their home building. That being said, Bryant will be facing a defense much less daunting than the one he saw when Auburn ventured to Death Valley. Louisville has given up 63 points through two games this season against Purdue and North Carolina, while also allowing close to 400 yards a game. The numbers don’t necessarily scream defensive juggernaut for the Cardinals, which may open up some big play chances for star Tiger wide out Deon Cain and others.
The biggest game of the weekend features an elite defense trying to stop the best player in college football and a new face on the big stage being presented with an opportunity to really showcase what he can (or can’t) do. Jackson wants revenge, and Bryant wants to show the country he is more than capable of leading a new look Tiger team back to the top. It will certainly be one for the ages Saturday night in Cardinal Stadium.