The last time Louisville and Clemson squared off, it turned into a defensive struggle. A repeat would be quite a surprise when two of the nation’s most dynamic offenses meet in a showdown of top-five teams Saturday night at Clemson.
The budding rivals never met before Louisville joined the ACC in 2014, and Clemson has won both meetings by a combined nine points, including a 20-17 road victory last season. The Tigers’ defense dominated last year’s contest, holding the Cardinals to 272 total yards — and just 19 yards on the ground. Slowing down this year’s Louisville team will be a tough task, as the No. 4-ranked Cardinals lead the nation in scoring and total offense behind dual-threat quarterback Lamar Jackson. No. 3 Clemson boasts a dangerous quarterback of its own in Deshaun Watson, who is 22-2 as a starter and ranks third on the Tigers’ all-time passing list.
TV: 8:22 p.m. ET, ABC.
LINE HISTORY: This is the big matchup that everyone has been waiting for all season. Clemson opened the betting as 3.5-point home favorites but the betting public hammered Louisville and forced some drastic line moves throughout the week. The spread was dropped from -3.5 to -2 almost immediately after release and on Monday the books dropped it all of the way to a Pick ‘Em. On Tuesday that Pick ‘Em fully jumped the fence and Louisville were installed as 2-point favorites. As of Friday afternoon the spread was beginning to come back again and Louisville currently sits as 1-point faves.
The total began the betting week at 67.5, took a slight bump to 68, and settled back down to 67 on Friday. View complete line history here.
Louisville – WR J. Savage (Questionable Saturday, shoulder), S L. Iakopo (Out For Season, knee), LB T. Young (Out For Season, hip), CB C. Sturghill (Out For Season, foot).
Clemson – DE A. Bryant (Questionable Saturday, foot), CB A. Baker (Questionable Saturday, knee), WR A. Dunn (Out For Season, knee), CB D. Johnson (Out Saturday, hamstring), LB J. Williams (Out Indefinitely, knee), DB B. Dawkins (Out Indefinitely, knee), OL C. Reeves (Out Indefinitely, knee), WR H. Renfrow (Mid October, hand).
WEATHER REPORT: It’s going to be a perfect evening for football at Clemson’s Memorial Stadium on Saturday. Clear skies, no wind, temperatures in the low 70’s and humidity levels down around 50-55 percent.
WHAT BOOKS SAY: “Interestingly enough, this line opened with Clemson a 3-point favorite, (now) all the way to a 2-point favorite with Louisville, the biggest public darling so far this year. Just an example of how much public support Louisville’s getting: Quarterback Lamar Jackson started the preseason at 100/1 right here (at CG) to win the Heisman Trophy. All of a sudden, he’s -300 to win the Heisman.” – Matthew Holt, vice president of business development at CG Technology in Las Vegas.
ABOUT LOUISVILLE (4-0 SU, 3-0-1 ATS, 4-0 O/U): Jackson is widely considered the runaway leader in the Heisman Trophy race, having accounted for 25 touchdowns (13 passing, 12 rushing) through four games. Running back Brandon Radcliff has topped 100 yards rushing in three straight games, combining with Jackson to lead the nation’s No. 3 rushing attack at 318.2 yards per game. The Cardinals’ huge offensive numbers have overshadowed a strong defense, which has held three of four opponents under 300 total yards.
ABOUT CLEMSON (4-0 SU, 2-2 ATS, 0-4 O/U): If any team is up to the task of quieting the Cardinals’ offense, it might be the Tigers, who are coming off a dominant defensive effort after holding Georgia Tech to 124 total yards in a 26-7 victory. Clemson ranks third nationally in total defense and has been especially tough against the pass, allowing just 125.8 yards per game through the air. Watson has put up solid passing numbers, but the Tigers could use more of a contribution from running back Wayne Gallman, who has averaged just 44.3 rushing yards over the past three games.
* Cardinals are 5-0-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall.
* Tigers are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games following a straight up win.
* Over is 5-0 in Cardinals last 5 conference games.
* Under is 4-0 in Tigers last 4 games overall.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The Covers public is all about the Louisville Cardinals in this one at a rate of 58 percent and the Over is picking up 69 percent of the totals wagers. View full consensus data here.