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Saturday morning Cardinal news and notes

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When it’s finally game day ...

—Spread check: Clemson by 3.

—Wear black today/tonight. Wear black.

—ESPN’s David Hale says this is Lamar Jackson “5.0,” but that still might not be enough to beat Clemson.

In the aftermath of the dominance at North Carolina, Smith, the Louisville receiver, quipped, "They say the ceiling is the roof around here," (a nod to the ubiquitous Michael Jordan quote in Chapel Hill) "well, Lamar has no ceiling, and he has no roof."

This is the beauty of Jackson for those still interested in watching without the baggage of expectations. It's what terrifies opposing coaches into singing his praises at every turn for fear they'll be the next person he tries to prove wrong. It's why Louisville's late-season struggles felt so bitterly disappointing and why the rekindled magic is already so much fun in 2017.

It all also adds a little extra meaning to Saturday's game. Was it right that last year's game crowned Jackson with personal glory and Clemson with a team championship when both fan bases now seem to be jealous of the other's prize?

"Really, we all feel like we owe them," Christian said. "We know what we could've done, what we should've done. This year, we have to go out and get what we deserve and what we should've gotten last year."

For Jackson though, this isn't about righting a wrong. He's not promising magic or highlights or heroism. He's promising simplicity.

"Deliver the ball," he said. "Score touchdowns."

Perhaps if he can do that against the defending champs, against this dominant defensive line, against the critical fans who've dogged him for months, maybe that will be enough to finally convince the masses that they're witnessing college football's best player.

—With all the focus on Lamar Jackson, could Saturday actually be a breakout game for Clemson QB Kelly Bryant? I mean, maybe.

—You know this is exactly how this went down too.

—The Ringer’s Rodger Sherman says it’s time to stop debating what Lamar Jackson is or isn’t and embrace the one thing we should all be able to agree on: the guy is the most entertaining player in college football.

—ESPN’s ACC duo of David Hale and Andrea Adelson are split on Saturday’s game.

No. 3 Clemson (2-0) at No. 14 Louisville (2-0, 1-0), 8 p.m., ABC

David Hale: Clemson 35, Louisville 33

These teams have faced off three times since Louisville joined the ACC, and all three games came down to the Cardinals’ final drive, with all three resulting in Clemson wins. Will that trend hold true again? Lamar Jackson is playing with a chip on his shoulder and Louisville’s players feel like last year’s game should’ve been theirs. Clemson’s defensive line, however, makes the task a tall one for the Cardinals, and that will ultimately be the difference.

Andrea Adelson: Louisville 21, Clemson 20

I really do think this game is a pick 'em, so since David took Clemson, I will take Louisville. Jackson is a better overall quarterback than he was when these teams played last year (and Jackson had 457 yards and three touchdowns), and that will allow him to mitigate the clear advantage the Clemson defensive line has going into the game. Clemson's defense is as imposing as it gets, and it will get its shots in on Jackson. But he is so motivated going into this game, he will make one more play and pull out the win.

—This is also a huge recruiting weekend for Louisville basketball, with Romeo Langford, Darius Days and new commit David Johnson among those who will be at PJCS for the Clemson game.

—I’ve always said that Yale’s analytics suck. Always said that.

—Dennis Dodd says that Lamar Jackson has to be better for Louisville to beat Clemson. Better than what, you ask? I don’t have the answer because I thought the headline was ridiculous and I chose not to click on it.

—SB Nation radio is rolling with the upset.

Clemson has significant advantages along the lines and more experience in skill positions. But they won’t have the best player on the field or the home crowd advantage.

I expect Lamar Jackson will find a way to put points on the board, but his defensive teammates will need a much better effort than what was on display against North Carolina.

This will come down to maximizing possessions and Louisville needing to create about 3-4 more than the Tigers. If Louisville wins the turnover battle, they can win the game.

I think that will indeed happen. This is Kelly Bryant’s first road start and it’s going to be hostile.

After Saturday night, Lamar Jackson will be favored to repeat as Heisman Trophy winner.

Final Score:

Louisville 44

Clemson 40

—Your week three college football watch guide from SB Nation.

—My man didn’t hesitate at all and that makes me believe him. I only hope four is enough.

—Jimbo Fisher still likes Florida State’s chances in the ACC, but also weighs in on Louisville-Clemson.

Fisher believes Clemson’s defense can set the tone but must be proceed with caution, while Louisville’s offensive line is in for a challenge.

“No matter how great your quarterback is, if they can't protect him, and the escape ability and creativity that Lamar has creates another set of problems too because you want to lay your ears back and go sack him, but at the same time you get out of a rush lane and he can create so many problems down the field whether he's running, throwing in that regards,” Fisher rattled off during Wednesday’s coaches conference call.

“It's going to be a chess match. They’re going to have to bring different blitzes. I'm sure Bobby will have different protections. You've got two great coaches on both sides of the ball that are going at each other and two great teams. …

“It's going to be a heck of a thing to watch. You have two great teams on both sides and just great teams in general. It will be a great match-up.”

—I’m sharing this “ACC schools as Game of Thrones” characters even though Louisville is Littlefinger and it makes me angry.

—This is some pretty high praise for Lamar Jackson from Lee Corso.

—Louisville volleyball fell to No. 12 Kentucky Friday night.

—The U of L men’s soccer team pulled off a huge 2-1 road win over No. 7 Syracuse. The loss was SU’s first in a home match since October of 2015, as the Cardinals continued to own the Orange.

—The 11th-ranked U of L field hockey team dropped its ACC opener to No. 4 Duke.

—Jaylen Smith gets ESPN’s Marty Smith ready for Saturday’s game.

—Rick Pitino said on Friday that he thinks high school players will be able to jump straight to the NBA again within the next two years.

—And they’re sweating a ridiculous amount for a 75-degree day.

—The Greenville News asks Jeff Greer to answer five questions. He fails miserably, per usual.

—Let’s gooooo

—Chris Hatfield over at Never Nervous says it’s time for Bobby Petrino to get it done against Clemson.

—TigerNet comin’ in with the hottest take of the week...

Everyone over there believes that better team is Clemson.

—Richard Pitino has made Minnesota basketball a hot ticket.

—Nailed it.

—Business First of Louisville named your boy one of “20 people to know in sports business,” which makes even less sense when you look at the other people on the list. Even so, a big thank you to them for selecting me. You may now bombard me with business questions and I’ll use the B- I got in high school Econ to answer them.

—A for effort.

—Make me a believer.

—A Clemson fan tries to comfort his fellow fans with this lengthy breakdown explaining how bad North Carolina is.

—”Football genius” Bill Polian believes Lamar Jackson is closer to an NFL wide receiver than quarterback. Whatever.

—The Post and Courier in the heart of Clemson country likes Louisville to spring the upset.

Protect the ball

When these two teams played last year, Clemson turned the ball over five times, something that still bothers coach Dabo Swinney. Now that the Tigers are on the road, it is extra important they protect the ball if they want to come out successful from a hostile road environment.

Stay calm

Bryant has proven he can rise to the occasion under the lights when Clemson knocked off Auburn last week. But Louisville will be loud. The Tigers prepared him all week by blasting loud music at practice. Clemson cannot afford to have the sort of miscommunication that it did when Auburn came to town.


Louisville 34, Clemson 31

—There were a whole bunch of Clemson fans downtown on Friday, and a few of them invaded Louisville’s FanFest event.

—The C-J looks at the commitment of David Johnson.

—CBS’ Jerry Palm likes the Cards to cover.

—I really, really want to send these guys home with an L.

—And finally, beat Clemson.