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Thursday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

Audrey Kelly is a lifelong U of L fan who knows nothing but blowout victories. She's already got her tailgate outfit ready.

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I_medium Spread check: Louisville by 2.

I_medium Our "where we're watching" post will run tomorrow, so if you have a viewing location you'd like to see included, make sure to email it to me ( today.

I_medium Bleacher Report's college football staff is asked whether DeShaun Watson will outperform Lamar Jackson Saturday night, and there's not a whole lot of respect being tossed around for the Cardinals.


Let me start by saying I have minimal confidence in the words I am about to write. I spent a few hours trying to think of how this game will go, and those few hours provided little. On that note, I am picking Clemson to beat the hottest program and hottest player in college football.

First off, the best is still out there for Deshaun Watson and the pieces around him. I also love what I have seen early on from the Clemson defense—especially the front seven—and it will slow down Lamar Jackson enough. What a glorious, beautiful game this will be. That much I know.


This will be Watson's coming-out party—or the sequel to his coming-out party. The former Heisman Trophy finalist got off to a bit of a slow start this season, but a 300-yard passing game on the road Thursday night got the ball rolling. Watson will pick up steam this week with a Heisman-esque performance against the Cardinals and a win over Heisman favorite Lamar Jackson, vaulting Clemson further up the rankings.


Jackson will outperform Watson statistically, yes, but Clemson will win the game due to its defense. The reason why Jackson will post better numbers is because the Cardinals will be behind, thus forcing Louisville to try and rely on him more and more as the game progresses. Clemson's defense will do just enough for the Tigers to pull out a dramatic win.


While so much will and has been made about the quarterback battle, the reality is that this is a matchup between two entire rosters. From that standpoint, Clemson has a clear advantage—although one could have said the same thing about Florida State before the Cardinals crushed the 'Noles. More times than not, however, the more talented roster comes out on top. From that perspective, I'm taking the Tigers on Saturday.


First, Jackson was a curiosity; then, he humiliated Florida State and became serious. Watson is already firmly set as a star college player. But I don't think people fully accept what Jackson is doing. His passing is good, but no one can tackle him. That will include Clemson. So yes, Jackson will outperform Watson.


Statistically? Yes. I expect he puts up big numbers against the Tigers in spots. Chunk yardage plays as a result of miscues are going to create a stat line that is amazing. However, Watson will get the stat that matters: a win.

Georgia Tech was a great tuneup for this Clemson squad from an assignment football standpoint, and if it can stick to the idea of responsibilities, it can succeed where Florida State failed.

I_medium Bobby Petrino announced on his coaches show last night that safety London Iakopo, who has been so great on special teams, is going to have to have surgery for the injury he suffered against Marshall, and will be out for the rest of the season. According to Petrino, Iakopo will petition for a medical redshirt.

I_medium Three out of ESPN's four ACC writers are taking Clemson over Louisville.

I_medium Louisville's road to its first ACC football title goes through Clemson (video).

I_medium Clemson has two routes to win Saturday's game: be more explosive on offense than they have been, or find a way to shut down Lamar Jackson and company.

The Tigers still have Watson, though. And it appears they've been saving him for a moment like this.

Watson's carries have become less frequent this year, and there are likely a couple of reasons.

First, it's pretty common to want to protect your quarterback more as the NFL Draft approaches; second, it appears to be something the Tigers have tactically held in reserve.

Thus far, Watson has been Clemson's short-yardage guy. In 31 carries against Auburn, Troy, and Georgia Tech, 15 came in either goal-to-go situations or second-, third-, or fourth-and-short. He rushed only three times per game on first down. It has worked — Clemson is undefeated, after all.

But the Tigers might need more from Watson's legs on Saturday night. And if his career has been any indication, they'll get it.

I_medium Campus Insiders has its own Lamar Jackson vs. DeShaun Watson hype video.

I_medium A reminder to all those making the trip to Clemson that Memorial Stadium has a clear bag policy, which means don't bring your purse.

Here's what you can take into the stadium:

--Bags that are clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and do not exceed 12" x 6" x 12." (Official Louisville/Clemson logo clear plastic tote bags are available at local retail stores), or

--Stadium cushions and seatbacks are still permitted. Seatbacks and cushions with arms or any pockets will not be permitted.

--One-gallon clear plastic freezer bag (Ziploc bag or similar).

--Small clutch bags, approximately the size of a hand (no larger than 4.5" x 6.5"), with or without a handle or strap can be taken into the stadium.

--An exception will be made for medically necessary items after proper inspection.

--Patrons will still be able to carry other items into the stadium such as binoculars, cameras, and smart phones, but their carrying cases will NOT be allowed.

I_medium Louisville is a much different job than it was 10 years ago, which is why it's easy to believe Bobby Petrino this time when he says he's not going anywhere.

I_medium This year's ACC football championship game will officially be played in Orlando.

I_medium David Hale notes that DeShaun Watson is running both less frequently and less effectively so far this season.

Watson ran by design once every 10 offensive plays last year. This year, he's doing so every 14 plays, or approximately 40 percent less.

And while Watson is running less often, he's also running less effectively. Last year, he averaged 5.94 yards per run through four games. This year, just 4.03 — a 32 percent drop. That can almost entirely be explained by the offensive line. Watson's yards-per-rush (not counting sacks) average before contact has been cut nearly in half, from 4.09 per carry to 2.24.

I_medium Brandon Radcliff isn't flying beneath anyone's radar at Clemson, in fact, many believe defensive coordinator Brent Venables' top priority for Saturday is to take the traditional run away from Louisville.

I_medium Boner

I_medium Jason Gay of The Wall Street Journal says the most urgent issue currently facing America is that Michigan football must be stopped.

I_medium Dennis of Dodd of CBS looks back at the Big 12's decision to pick West Virginia over Louisville.

Tom Jurich's suffering is still evident.

"Worst day of my life," the Louisville athletic director recalled.

Five years ago next month, Jurich and his athletic program became one of the biggest losers in the last big conference realignment merry-go-round. The Big 12 chose West Virginia over Louisville to get itself to 10 schools following the losses of ColoradoMissouriNebraska and Texas A&M in that realignment upheaval.

Jurich isn't the only one still wondering why Louisville was left out. The decision between the two schools involved three outside consultants, two powerful sports networks and politicking from state senators.

Then and now, the conclusion remains the same for some who remember the process: Louisville should have been the pick by the Big 12.

"It was severe. It was heartbreaking. I thought we belonged," Jurich said.

Louisville had the bigger market, better basketball program and more convenient airport. But West Virginia was on a roll, coming off a Final Four and -- in the moment -- with a better football pedigree.

The main difference was West Virginia being a state flagship that looked a lot like the Big 12's only three land grant universities -- Kansas StateIowa State and Oklahoma State.

Jurich also had a slight dig at former rivals Cincinnati and Memphis.

"I don't think they're going to do anything," Jurich said of the Big 12. "What do any of these [expansion candidates] bring?"

For his part, Neinas says he'd take Cincinnati and Houston. The 84-year-old administrator still runs a coaching search firm out of his Colorado home.

"You should expand East because, if you take BYU, man, this is very difficult," Neinas said. "Take Cincinnati because they can be a [travel] partner with West Virginia. Houston, under the current circumstances, because they are a growing program. I don't think [Houston's current success] is a one-night stand."

It's still unreal just how perfectly everything worked out for Louisville. And the ACC, for that matter.

I_medium I'm not sure exactly what this means, but I think there's going to be a video game battle between Louisville and Clemson fans tonight at 8:30.

Have I said it's on yet today? Because it's on.

I_medium Louisville's Tim Kubel was voted as the NCAA's Men's Soccer Player of the Week.

I_medium I always forget that Dabo Swinney was on the Alabama team that got curb-stomped by Louisville in the Fiesta Bowl. Here's video evidence.

I_medium A year ago, Louisville almost beat Clemson without Jamari Staples, James Quick or Cole Hikutini. Also, Lamar Jackson only played two snaps.

I_medium Here's another option if you're looking to watch Saturday night's game somewhere in Louisville:

The University of Louisville Golf Club will host a watch party on Saturday night for the football team's highly anticipated game at Clemson, the school announced Wednesday.

The game kicks off at 8 p.m. and will be broadcast to a national audience on ABC.

The U of L Golf Club will accept reservations only for the watch party, and fans will be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. Click here for more information.

I_medium Back-to-back ranked opponents are up next for the seventh-ranked Louisville field hockey team.

I_medium qNo one should hike without U of L wide receiver gloves.

I_medium The Broward/Palm Beach area has produced a ton of talent over the years, but never a Heisman Trophy winner.

I_medium Sampson is the man. Mario too.

I_medium New U of L commit Dana Evans says walking into a program that already figures to have a loaded roster will only make her a better player.

I_medium There have been a lot of cool stats tossed around this week. This is not one of those stats.

I_medium Shakin' the Southland embraces its inner Louisville hate.

I_medium The legend of the Waffle Stomp continues to grow.

I_medium If you have any interest in my thoughts on the Clemson trip from two years ago, that post is here.

I_medium Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples explains why Louisville's o-line is crucial to snagging a victory on Saturday.

I_medium The return of Clemson Tom:

I_medium Does Clemson's offense need a change in mentality?

I_medium Lamar Jackson to Florida almost happened, a fact which is keeping Gator fans up at night.

I_medium All seven CBS writers like Clemson to cover the 2-point spread in Death Valley.

Pick: Clemson +2. If this game comes down to Watson and Jackson exchanging possessions in the fourth quarter of a close game, no one loses. But if you're looking for a more complex analysis of the game, consider the game-breaker from a year ago as a huge X-factor in this matchup. Wayne Gallman (24 carries, 139 yards) was the reliable workhorse Clemson needed to hold the leverage in last year's matchup against the Cardinals, and he did the same thing in a rock fight against Auburn in the season-opener (30 carries, 123 yards). If Gallman is running hard and finding success, Jackson's touches will be limited.

Then there's Clemson's defense, which is the other reason I like the Tigers here. That young but freakishly talented defensive front will have its hands full with Jackson's play-action and read-option looks. Eye discipline will be a huge factor in this game, both up front and on the back end of the defense. Jaylen Smith and Jamani Staples love to see linebackers staring at Jackson so they can creep behind defenses for a huge play. But defensive coordinator Brent Venables has proven to be one of the most impressive coaches in the game, and I think he'll have something cooked up for the Louisville's star sophomore.

Line Dodd Solomon Palm Fornelli Kalland Kercheval Patterson
Clemson +2

I_medium Good read here on former Cardinal Ricardo Velazco's unique path to the MLS.

I_mediumpreview capsule for Saturday.

I_medium A reminder that sun up to sun down coverage is coming your way Saturday courtesy of 93.9 The Ville:

I_medium Fox Sports lists five reasons why Louisville will come back home from South Carolina with a W.

I_medium Yeah, we're going to go ahead and need you guys to stay over there until Louisville loses a football game.

I_medium The staff at USA Today appears to be the only one with confidence in Louisville, as five of its seven writers like the Cards over the Tigers.

I_medium Clemson's mayor is attempting to wager cheese on Saturday's game. Come on.

I_medium Apparently the meshing of Louisville and Wisconsin is becoming a trend.

I_medium CBS' Tom Fornelli says people should keep their faith with Clemson at home.

Since the start of the 2011 season, Clemson has gone 33-2 at home with the two losses being to South Carolina (which finished 11-2) in 2012 and Florida State (which one the national title) in 2013. That means the Tigers have won 18 straight in Death Valley.

Meanwhile, Louisville has played out of this world through the first month of the season. Lamar Jackson is a dang supernova and seems unstoppable, but what Louisville has not done yet is play a defense near the caliber of Clemson, let alone in a road environment such as this one. Also, for as great an in-game play-caller as Bobby Petrino has been throughout his career, he's still 5-12 against teams ranked in the top 10.

Louisville is really good, but not good enough for me to take it as a road favorite against Clemson. Clemson 31, Louisville 23

I_medium The New York Post tells us why Louisville will pull out a tough road win against Clemson.

I_medium The U of L campus has been livelier than ever all week long.

I_medium And finally, beat Clemson.