Clemson had an extra week to think about its almost-loss to North Carolina and then it carved through Florida State in a 45-14 win.
The next test is Louisville, who has surprisingly been one of the better teams in the ACC after managing just two wins last season. The Tigers still opened as -22.5 point road favorites.
It’s almost not worth it to look at last year’s 77-16 win for Clemson because Lousville had given up on its season at that point and also has a new coach this season in Scott Satterfield.
Defense remains a question, though the offense has picked it up and is the main reason the Cardinals have won their last two games by a combined five points. Keeping this Clemson offense below 40 points will be the goal, but probably won’t be attainable.
After coming out gunning with four total touchdowns in the first half against Florida State, Trevor Lawrence showed flashes of the upside he provided late last season.
His overall numbers are still lacking, but the quality is there and there’s a good chance it shows up against this defense. Top receivers Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross should get most of the attention with the former at a huge 22.9 yards per reception.
The rushing attack should also have plenty of success against a defense allowing 174.5 rushing yards per contest. The Tigers are averaging 6.1 yards per carry as a team with Travis Etienne and Lyn-J Dixon the main culprits in the backfield.
Louisville has yet to stop a decent opponent to less than 35 points, which isn’t a recipe for success against a balanced Clemson offense. If Lawrence comes out slinging like the last game, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Tigers hit 35 points in the first half.
For Louisville to have a chance of covering, it’s up to the offense, which has gotten a nice spark since losing to FSU 35-24. Then again, scoring against BC and Wake doesn’t compare to this Clemson defense which is allowing 254.8 yards and 12.3 points per game.
The Cardinals were on their third quarterback in the win over Wake Forest, yet that didn’t seem to matter. True freshman Evan Conley ran for a 41-yard touchdown for what would be the winning score in a 62-59 result.
While his sample size is minimal, he’s averaging 11.4 yards per pass on 37 attempts while rushing for 84 yards on 10 carries. Those are solid numbers, but if Micale Cunningham and Jawon Pass miss this game, everything will be on the true freshman to perform against Clemson.
That’s a tall ask even with skilled players surrounding him in running backs Javian Hawkins and Hassan Hall, as well as receivers Tutu Atwell and Dez Fitzpatrick. All that said, it’ll be hard to back Conley and this offense against Clemson, which appear to have one of the better defenses in the country again.
Given the advantages on both sides of the ball, the Cardinals are in a tough spot. Their offense has had some huge outings, but may come back to earth against this Tigers defense.
Clemson is 7-1 ATS in its last eight road games, while the over is 8-0 in Louisville’s last eight games in October. The Tigers have covered the last three meetings between these schools, scoring at least 42 points in each of them.
Our Pick – Clemson -24