Clemson vs. Louisville Prediction, Game Preview

    Clemson vs. Louisville prediction and game preview. The No. 11 Tigers look to remain undefeated as they travel to Louisville to take on the winless Cardinals.

    September 14, 2015

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    The Clemson Tigers and the Louisville Cardinals start ACC play this Thursday at Papa John’s Stadium. We take a look at the matchup below in the Clemson vs. Louisville prediction and game preview.

    Clemson vs. Louisville Prediction & Preview

    Broadcast

    Date: Thursday, September 17
    Game Time: 7:30 ET
    Venue: Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium (Louisville, KY)
    Network: ESPN

    Follow and/or Contact @Rich Cirminiello

    Why You Need To Care

    Louisville needs to rescue a season in danger of unraveling. Thursday night versus the preseason ACC favorite would be a terrific place to start turning things around.

    The Cardinals were supposed to be one of the league’s dangerous teams again this fall. And they still might be. But Louisville must first punch its way out of an 0-2 hole. The Cards fell to an Auburn team that now looks overrated, and turned the ball over four times in last weekend’s home loss to Houston. Confidence will plummet in that Louisville locker room if the team is 0-3 by Friday morning.

    Clemson has taken care of business in easy wins over Wofford and Appalachian State. But now things get serious with a wicked stretch of games that begins with Louisville, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech in succession. If the Tigers are as good as preseason predictions suggested, they’ll quiet the Papa John’s crowd and get out of town with a stepping stone win.

    Why Clemson Will Win

    The Cards are still tweaking their quarterback situation. The Tigers are set at the position with sophomore Deshaun Watson.

    The Louisville offense has been slow to crank in both games, doing most of their scoring in the final quarter. They’ve lacked efficiency through the air and couldn’t run it against Houston, the byproducts of rookie QB Lamar Jackson and an inexperienced O-line. Clemson is in far better shape with Watson behind center and RB Wayne Gallman and receivers Artavis Scott and Charoke Peake. Two games in, the Tigers are further along than the Cardinals on offense.

    Why Louisville Will Win

    The Cardinals aren’t the only team in this one facing uncertainty along the O-line. Clemson has plenty to prove as well.

    The Tigers are pedestrian in the offensive trenches, even allowing five sacks through the first two games. And now the task is going to get substantially harder against DE Sheldon Rankins and a dynamite collection of linebackers. Louisville has the athletes, including on the back level, to attack the line of scrimmage and make Watson operate with hands in his face and bodies bearing down on him.

    Player Who Matters

    It’s going to be a huge night for the defensive linemen, particularly since both O-lines are works in progress. Rankins will require double-teams from Clemson, but Louisville better get a hat on DE Shaq Lawson as well. This could be Lawson’s national coming-out party. The heir to Vic Beasley on the outside brings good size and the heavy hands to whip the Cardinal tackles. And a stiff pass rush is the last thing the green Louisville quarterbacks need to feel at this time.

    What’s Going To Happen?

    Watson trumps Jackson, by far the biggest difference between two teams that otherwise aren’t too dissimilar.

    No, Clemson-Louisville won’t boil down to a single player, but it’s behind center that the Tigers will enjoy their biggest advantage. Elsewhere, both have ample defensive talent, speed at the skill positions and offensive lines with incomplete grades. In Watson, Clemson has a true game-changer who can bring out the ability of those skill guys. Jackson, or whoever gets the signal from Bobby Petrino, just isn’t quite ready to carry a team at this stage of his career.

    Clemson vs. Louisville Score Prediction

    Final Score: Clemson 34, Louisville 27

    Must See Rating: 5: Republican Debate, Second Round – 1: Republican Debate, First Round … 3.5

    MORE: Clemson vs. Louisville Spread: Can The Tigers Cover?

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