The winner of this game will win the ACC and be the ACC representative in the College Football Playoff.
If I used that sentence in the preseason many people would think I was talking about the Clemson-Florida State game, but the game I am talking about is the Clemson-Louisville game. One of the surprise teams of the year, Louisville, will go to Death Valley and visit the reigning ACC Champions, the Clemson Tigers.
Both teams have great quarterbacks behind center. Clemson has Deshaun Watson. A year ago, Watson was the “it” quarterback of the ACC and the whole nation. Now, that quarterback is Louisville’s Lamar Jackson. This year, he is lighting up the College Football landscape.
Lamar Jackson is on an otherworldly run right now. He has scored 25 touchdowns already and it is only the start of Week 5. Jackson is playing at level that college football has not seen in a while. His level of play has him compared to the first true spread quarterback, Michael Vick. Vick has said on Twitter that Lamar Jackson is way better than he was in college.
But my one question for the Jackson and his offense is: Has Louisville played a top notch defense? My answer to that is no.
Yes, they played Florida State, but actually look at the Florida State defense and stop looking at the name. This year, when they are playing Charleston Southern University, their defense has more holes than Swiss cheese.
Against FBS opponents, Florida State has given up 132 points and 1,360 yards. On average, the Seminoles are giving up 44 points per game and allowing the opposing offense to gain 453.33 yards per game.
Does that sound like a good defense? I thought not too.
I’ll show you a good defense. A defense that is sixth in total yards allowed, third in yards per game, eighth in points per game, and fifth in points per game.
Now, that sounds like a good defense. This defense belongs to the Clemson Tigers. This is where the game inside of the game lives. Can Clemson’s defense contain Louisville’s run game? If they can get Louisville into third and predictable, Clemson can win the game. The Louisville passing attack is good, but Clemson’s pass defense is really good. Clemson’s defense ranks third in allowed passing yards per game, while Louisville’s offense ranks 10th in passing yards per game. But, if Lamar Jackson and running back Brandon Radcliff are running like crazy, Clemson will have no shot in winning this game. The Cardinals rushing attack fuels their passing attack and if opposing defense can’t stop their run game, the game is lost.
Clemson’s offense should start to click as we go into October. Since 2009, Dabo Swinney has only lost two home conference game in the month of October. Which means Deshaun Watson has not lost an October home ACC game ever in his career. In fact, Clemson has only lost one ACC game where Watson completes the game (they lost was an overtime game against Florida State). That was also Watson’s third game of his freshman year and it was his first road ACC game. At home against an ACC foe, Swinney is Mr. October.
This game is played at night, at Death Valley, and it will be played under Dabo Swinney and the quarterback for Clemson is still Deshaun Watson. Clemson plays the underdog card well and gets the win in front of their home fans. The score will be high, Clemson wins the game 45-35.