Trevor Lawrence threw two early interceptions to the Cardinals, but rebounded to throw for three touchdowns as #3 Clemson (7-0) rolled to a 45-10 win over Louisville (4-3). The win pushes Clemson's winning streak to 22 games, the longest active streak in the FBS.
It was a game that saw Clemson slowly work its way to a dominant victory, behind a strong defensive effort. Louisville's first drive ended in an interception, as starter Micale Cunningham threw a deep ball that went through Tutu Atwell's hands and into K'Von Wallace's.
Travis Etienne kept Clemson's momentum rolling with a 48-yard run on their first offensive play, following the interception. But the Tigers had to settle for a 51-yard field goal from B.T. Potter, putting the Tigers ahead 3-0.
Clemson's next two drives ended in interceptions thrown in the red zone. Trevor Lawrence led the Tigers downfield, but had errant passes picked off by Jack Fagot and Russ Yeast.
Despite the interceptions, Louisville couldn't parlay them into points. The Cardinals had another drive ended by a turnover, as Micale Cunningham fumbled it near midfield and Clemson recovered.
Trevor Lawrence, however, would rebound from his two early picks with a touchdown throw to Joe Ngata, putting the Tigers up 10-0.
After Louisville's offense couldn't get going with Cunningham, Evan Conley once again made an appearance off the bench. His first drive resulted in Louisville's first points of the game, a 28-yard field goal from Blanton Creque.
But Clemson would score another touchdown with five seconds left in the first half, coming on Lawrence's 25-yard throw to Justyn Ross. The Tigers entered halftime with a 17-3 lead over the Cardinals.
Clemson’s offense scored three more touchdowns as part of a 28-0 run to put the game away. Travis Etienne and Darien Rencher each had touchdown runs, with Etienne busting a 49-yard scoring run in the third quarter. In between those runs, Trevor Lawrence threw his third touchdown pass to Cornell Powell early in the fourth quarter.
Louisville's offense continued to sputter in the second half, as the Cards tried to find a rhythm with both Cunningham and Conley. Clemson’s defense continued to dominate Louisville with excellent pressure upfront, ending up with six sacks in the game and constantly harassing both Cunningham and Conley all day.
Louisville’s only touchdown in the game came with Conley at quarterback. The freshman led the Cards on a nine-play, 75-yard drive with Javian Hawkins running in for a three-yard score.
With the backups in for Clemson's final drive, the Tigers scored one last touchdown as Chaz Mellusi rushed in for a 16-yard score with one minute left in the game.
It was a business as usual performance for Clemson's offense, who had a very balanced effort with its 551 total yards of offense (253 passing, 298 rushing). Trevor Lawrence completed 20-of-29 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions. Travis Etienne led the Tigers with 192 rushing yards on 14 carries, averaging 13.7 yards per carry.
Clemson’s defense shined against a Louisville offense that had scored 40+ points in its last two games. The Tigers tallied six sacks and two interceptions, with linebacker Isaiah Simmons (eight tackles, two sacks) flying everywhere making plays. Justin Foster had 3.5 tackles for loss, part of Clemson’s 11 on the day. A.J. Terrell and K’Von Wallace each had an interception.
Louisville's offense struggled with 263 total yards. Both quarterbacks (Micale Cunningham & Evan Conley) finished 4-of-11 passing each with an interception. Javian Hawkins recorded his fourth 100-yard game this season, tallying 129 yards on 26 carries with a touchdown. Russ Yeast and Jack Fagot each had interceptions for Louisville.
Louisville will look to rebound next week with a home game versus Virginia. The Cards and the Cavaliers kickoff at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.