The eyes of the college football world will once again be on Clemson, SC as the #5 ranked Tigers host the #3 ranked Louisville Cardinals Saturday night in Death Valley. Clemson opened the year at #2 in the nation, and squeaked out a 19-13 opening weekend win at Auburn. The following week, the Tigers appeared sloppy and uninspired in a 30-24 home win over mid-major Troy. The two less than stellar performances from the offense dropped Clemson to #5 in the AP Poll and #3 in the Coaches Poll. Clemson has gotten back on track offensively over the past two weeks, getting a 59-0 drubbing of instate foe SC State in week three and following that up with a Thursday Night 26-7 swatting of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in Atlanta, giving the Tigers their first victory against the Jackets in Bobby Dodd Stadium since 2003.
As Deshaun Watson and Clemson’s offense get back into the groove, Clemson’s defense has been strong. The Tigers are lead by sophomore “jack of all trades” Christian Wilkins. The 310 lb defensive lineman is a tackle by trade, but lined up at end for Clemson’s first 3 games due to the injury of starting DE Austin Bryant. Wilkins further flashed his athleticism with a touchdown reception in Clemson’s win over Troy. Despite missing the SC State game with an injury, senior outside LB Ben Boulware has been a huge asset for the Tigers, both with his play and his passion. Wide Receiver Mike Williams has returned from last year’s season ending neck injury and has racked up 303 yards over 4 games and finally found the end zone in the victory over Georgia Tech. Clemson will unfortunately be without RS sophomore WR Hunter Renfrow, who suffered a hand injury during the SC State game. Renfrow gained fame as being preferred walk on who earned a scholarship before the 2015 season, and then went on to be a key target for Watson and even caught the first two touchdowns in the National Championship game against Alabama.
The Tigers defense will face the tall task of facing Louisville star QB Lamar Jackson. Jackson has emerged as a Heisman favorite for many with his video game like stats. He opened the season up by scoring 8 touchdowns in the first half against Charlotte in a 70-14 win. He then earned national attention by rushing for 4 touchdowns and tossing one while leading Louisville to a 63-20 upset route of the then #2 ranked Florida State Seminoles. This will be Jackson’s first major road test for the year, as his other road games have been victories at Syracuse and Marshall.
Starting off the day in Clemson will be ESPN’s “College Gameday” broadcasting live from Bowman Field on the Clemson University campus Saturday morning. The famed show will be making it’s fifth stop in Clemson. The Tigers hold a 3-1 record when hosting Gameday, including last year’s iconic victory over Notre Dame in torrential rain. The game itself will be broadcasted on ABC as their primetime game. Kickoff will be at 8:00 PM EST.