By Jansen Myers–
Louisville faces a tough test Thursday night when the Clemson Tigers come to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium for a primetime showdown. The game will be the showcase ESPN matchup on Thursday night and millions will be watching from all across the country. Clemson was picked as the preseason favorite to win the ACC, after finishing the last four seasons with 10 wins or more.
Eighth-year head coach Dabo Swinney and dual threat sophomore QB Deshaun Watson bring another signature high-powered offensive attack to a Louisville defense that has shown flaws in the first two games of the season. Watson was also named a preseason Heisman trophy contender.
The Tigers have not been tested in their first two games, handling Wofford and Appalachian State 49-10 and 41-10, respectively. Watson has shined in his first two games. After a successful ACL surgery in the offseason, the so-called “Quarterback of the Future” Watson has showed off his improved passing skills this season. Against Wofford, he completed 18 of 22 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns against Appalachian State, he threw for 248 yards and three touchdowns with one interception.
The Clemson defense has also performed well under defensive coordinator Brent Venables, allowing only nine first downs against Appalachian State and forcing four turnovers. After mounting a bold comeback and missing a huge opportunity against Auburn in the Georgia Dome, Louisville lost their home opener to the Houston Cougars.
This is the first time that Louisville has started out a season 0-2 since 1998, when they finished 7-5. The defense under Todd Grantham was supposed to be a strong point for the Cards this season, but the unit has not been able to stop the run game.
It is up to the offense and its starting quarterback to keep scoring and keep the defense off the field. Bobby Petrino still has yet to name a starter for the Thursday night showdown, but bets seem to be on Kyle Bolin, who showed confidence under the center Saturday against Houston.
This game is without a doubt one of, if not the biggest matchups on Louisville’s schedule this season. The Thursday night ESPN primetime game last season against Florida State had an electric atmosphere last year with new uniforms, all eyes on the game and an upset bid in mind.
This game should not be any different. Louisville will be wearing new all-black uniforms, and the game is being advertised as this year’s “Black Out” game.
The students and fans love Thursday night games, and the millions of college football fans out there will all be watching this game, as it is the primetime ESPN showcase game on the 17th. Clemson will be a huge test for the struggling Cards and an upset win would provide a large lift for spirits in the locker room.
The game is at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and will be broadcast on ESPN.