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Louisville

vs.

Clemson

College Football

Free Pick

9/16/17

It’s hard to believe, but we’re already into Week 3 of the season with one of the bigger ACC matchups upon us between Louisville and Clemson. The Tigers were slightly better in this game last year, but without Deshaun Watson, things could be different this time around. Still, Clemson opened as small -2.5 point road favorites as seen at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

Clemson is favored mainly because Louisville’s defense didn't show up in the first two games. The Cardinals got tons of offense through Lamar Jackson, but the defense struggled against two solid offenses in Purdue and UNC. If the defense can’t stop Kelly Bryant, it’s hard to see Jackson doing enough to get his team a win.

Then again, it felt like Louisville played up to its competition last season and came through in its biggest games of the year. Betting on that to happen again isn’t a terrible idea, but nothing in the first two games lead anyone to believe the Cardinals have a good defense.

As for Jackson, he’s getting little help from his teammates with 771 passing yards and five touchdowns in the air to go with 239 rushing yards and three more TDs. Jaylen Smith has been his top target early already with 300 yards. The running back situation is a little different with Malik Williams taking up a bigger role last game that resulted in 149 rushing yards. If that can happen every game, that’d be great for the Cardinals and Jackson, but most of those yards came on a 74-yard carry. If no one else can produce in this offense outside of Jackson, it’s going to be extremely tough for them to score at a consistent rate against this defense.

The Tigers return a good amount of starters from last year’s core and that’s been seen in the two early games after allowing just nine total points. Jackson was great in this game last year and almost won it by himself, but 295 passing yards and 162 yards on the ground weren’t enough in a 42-36 loss. If Jackson continues doing that, that’s fine, but this is the first time this season that Louisville is playing an above-average defense.

On the other side, everything isn’t cut-and-dry for the Tigers, although Bryant has looked solid in the early season. He’s still not Watson and the running game outside of Bryant has been minimal between a slew of different guys from C.J. Fuller and Adam Choice to Tavien Feaster and Travis Etienne. Clemson should have an easier time moving the ball against this defense and that could lead to a huge game for Bryant, who struggled through the air in the Auburn win last week.

Louisville has some playmakers on the defensive side, but that hasn’t shown up yet, giving up 63 points in the first two games. The Tigers are favored because it’ll be extremely hard to trust this Louisville defense. But if you think the Cardinals can return to their big-game play, this is a great spot to take them at home in a huge night game as underdogs.

Our Pick -  The Clemson defense figures to be a much tougher test for Louisville than Purdue and UNC proved to be. But this series has been tight for 3 straight years with Louisville losing all 3 by 6, 3 and 6 points. This time around, theyhave  the edge at QB to go along with the home field edge. Call  in TRIPLE REVENGE for the Cards. Louisville +3

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