FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Stadium (81,500) — Clemson, South Carolina.
Television: TBD. Home Record: Louisville 3-0, Clemson 3-0. Away Record:
Louisville 2-1, Clemson 0-2. Neutral Record: Louisville 0-0, Clemson 0-0.
Conference Record: Louisville 3-1, Clemson 2-1. Series Record: First-ever
GAME NOTES: Two of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s best will square off at
Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon, as the Clemson Tigers play host to the
Despite losing their head coach (Charlie Strong) and elite quarterback (Teddy
Bridgewater) in the offseason, Louisville has barely skipped a beat in 2014
with the return of Bobby Petrino to the sidelines, going 5-1 and 3-1 in the
ACC. Since dropping a tough 23-21 road matchup with Virginia on Sept. 13, the
Cardinals have ripped off three straight wins, most recently capturing a 28-6
victory at Syracuse last Friday night.
Clemson has been challenged early in the season with two road tests against
nationally-ranked foes, losing to both Georgia (45-21) and Florida State
(23-17 in OT). Although the Tigers haven’t lived up to the preseason hype as
one of the nation’s best, they have taken care of business in the games they
were supposed to win, downing South Carolina State (73-7), North Carolina
(50-35) and NC State (41-0) in their three home games.
This marks the first-ever meeting on the football field between these newly-
acquainted conference foes.
Louisville boasts a stellar offensive attack this season, putting up 33.3 ppg
and 388.3 ypg, while scoring on 93 percent of its red-zone drives.
Will Gardner (.562 completions, 798 yards, eight TDs, two INTs) missed last
week’s contest with a knee injury and remains questionable this week. Reggie
Bonnafon has been up-and-down in two starts this season, completing 56.8
percent of his throws for 531 yards, four touchdowns (two rushing) and a pick.
Brandon Radcliff has rushed for 362 yards on 5.7 yards per carry while
crossing into the end zone six times. Dominique Brown (327 yards, three TDs)
has also played well out of the backfield.
Eli Rodgers is the team’s leading receiver with 24 catches for 259 yards,
although he has yet to score. James Quick has been more prone to big plays
with 23 receptions for 348 yards and three touchdowns.
The Cardinals are able to pair an outstanding defense with a strong offense.
The unit has the nation’s top total defense (12.7 ppg) and ranks sixth in both
scoring defense (12.7 ppg) and turnovers gained (15).
The playmaking defense is led by Gerod Holliman in the secondary, who leads
the nation with seven interceptions and has picked off a pass in every game.
Keith Kelsey (37 tackles, 4.0 sacks) is the top tackler, Lorenzo Maudlin (26
tackles, 4.0 sacks) has 9.0 TFL and six QB hurries, while James Sample (22
tackles, two INTs), Sheldon Rankins (22 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 3.0 sacks, INT) and
Deiontrez Mount (6.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks, FF) have all been outstanding as well.
Clemson has one of the ACC’s most explosive offensive attacks, as it puts up
40.4 ppg and 490.8 ypg, and last week the unit was at peak form with 41 points
and 493 yards.
Deshaun Watson passed for two touchdowns and rushed for two more in the
shutout victory over NC State and has now accounted for 10 scores over the
past two weeks. He’s been excellent this year, completing 68.9 percent of his
throws for 1,181 yards, 12 touchdowns and just one pick while adding solid
rushing totals (137 yards, three TDs).
Watson has developed a strong connection with Mike Williams, who has 21
receptions for 520 yards and four touchdowns, and he ranks second in the
country in yards per catch (24.8) among players with at least 20 grabs.
Artavis Scott (18 receptions, 305 yards, three TDs) and Germone Hopper (eight
receptions, 233 yards, two TDs) have also been outstanding in the passing
The Tigers amass 155 rushing yards per game and give plenty of backs work, as
no one has more than C.J. Davidson’s 151 yards.
Clemson also possesses a strong defense (22.0 ppg, 290.4 ypg) and is coming
off a dominant performance against NC State where it allowed just 154 yards
and forced three turnovers.
All-American Vic Beasley is one of the country’s best pass-rushers with 8.0
TFL and 7.0 sacks. Stephone Anthony has a team-best 33 tackles to go with 7.5
TFL and 1.5 sacks, while Jadar Johnson has picked off two passes.
The Cardinals and the Tigers should be in for a hard-fought battle, but in the
end Clemson’s experience versus top-tier teams this season will have it
prepared well for going up against Louisville’s stout defense.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Clemson 24, Louisville 17