CLEMSON, S.C. — The initial month of a college football deteriorate doubled as a prominence fasten for a Louisville football program. There was Lamar Jackson leaping over infirm cornerbacks, joining with tarnishing receivers and moving a Cardinals to rare heights. Few teams have ever streaked into a inhabitant alertness as vigourously and surprisingly as Louisville. It crashed a tip 5 of a polls, emerged as a College Football Playoff heavenly and Jackson, a sophomore quarterback, surged to a forefront of a Heisman Trophy race.
But a calendar flipped to October, a stakes increasing precipitously and No. 3 Louisville submitted an considerable though unlawful opening during No. 5 Clemson on Saturday night. The Tigers outlasted a Cardinals, 42–36, after one final mental mistake on a night filled with them eventually undid Louisville.
The Cardinals surged behind from an 18-point halftime necessity and seemed in control of a diversion in a second half. But when Clemson shook off a second-half cobwebs to take a lead with 3:14 remaining, Louisville came adult only brief on a final climactic drive.
Louisville consumed a best possibility to indurate itself as a inhabitant pretension contender, display only how skinny a line can be in a tip row of college football—rarefied atmosphere that Louisville looked worried with for tools of Saturday night. The Cardinals’ final play typified their night. Facing a fourth-and-seven on a Clemson nine-yard line with reduction than a notation remaining, Louisville got flagged for a 11th chastisement of a diversion as lineman Kiola Mahoni was whistled for a fake start.
Jackson finished adult completing a pass to James Quick on fourth-and-12 from a Clemson 14, though Quick was pushed out of finish a yard brief of a initial down with 33 seconds left by Clemson’s Marcus Edmond.
“We done it hard,” Clemson manager Dabo Swinney said. “At a finish of a day we have to respond.”
A celebration for a ages erupted as a final seconds ticked away. Clemson fans stormed a margin and bobbed adult and down, branch Death Valley into a mosh pit.
The final reason by a Tigers was set adult by youth quarterback Deshaun Watson, who shook off a walking second half and connected with parsimonious finish Jordan Leggett on a 31-yard touchdown pass with 3:14 remaining to broach a final measure of this back-and-forth Clemson victory. The Tigers withstood 5 uninterrupted Louisville scoring drives to open a half, with Jackson fileting a Clemson invulnerability by a atmosphere and pirouetting by a Tigers’ defensive front.
“The enlightenment of a module that’s been determined over 8 years was vast tonight,” Swinney said. “They’d been there.”
So what does it all meant in a end? It could finish adult as a ideal showcase for a new-era ACC. The joining prolonged deliberate Florida State and a organisation of dwarves now has dual new premier teams adult top. Louisville leaves Death hollow a crook though still with a possibility during racing behind into a playoff hunt. The Cardinals will conduct to Houston on Nov. 17, a diversion a Cougars desperately need to win for a mark in a College Football Playoff. That diversion was scheduled as partial of Louisville’s buyout traffic with a Big East. Who could have ever likely that it would means Louisville, and a ACC, a vicious late-season showcase if a Cardinals were to take advantage of some disharmony and hide behind into a inhabitant pretension race?
Clemson’s final mount solidified a standing as a heading contender for a ACC pretension and a favorite to lapse to a playoff. It also towering Watson behind to a sport’s tip row after he had played unevenly by Clemson’s initial 4 games. The Tigers hardly won during Auburn, looked horrific opposite Troy and seemed to recover their balance in a clever opening final Thursday during Georgia Tech. Watson announced himself as a game’s alpha dog before a opening kickoff, using opposite a margin to call his warms and dance with a towel to whip a Clemson throng into a frenzy. He wasn’t ideal Saturday, as he threw an inexcusable pick—one of 5 Clemson turnovers—behind Mike Williams in a finish section that Louisville’s Jaire Alexander grabbed. But Watson finished with 397 sum yards and 5 touchdowns, sketch about even with Jackson’s 457 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Louisville might accumulate itself and re-enter a playoff design down a road, though on Saturday night it couldn’t stop violence itself. If we ever wish to design a module not prepared for primary time, Louisville delivered that in a initial half. The Cardinals began a diversion with uninterrupted pre-snap fake start penalties, and a banana never left a tailpipe. The bulk of a impulse looked too vast for Louisville, as a Cardinals sputtered by all a classical mistakes—pre-snap penalties, messy turnovers and a dear personal foul. Louisville hadn’t been strike in a mouth nonetheless this season, and when Christian Wilkins and a Clemson defensive line did that early, a Cardinals looked impressed by a competition and a withering screams of 83,362 in Death Valley. Louisville committed 9 penalties for 94 yards in a initial half alone and finished with 11 for 104. It tuned a round over 3 times and looked mislaid amid a hubbub so genuine and abdominal it most privileged your sinuses.
None of Clemson’s first-half scoring drives was longer than 4 plays, as a Tigers were set adult by turnovers and aided by penalties. No impulse in a initial half succinct Louisville melting down underneath a spotlight some-more than Cardinals receiver Jamari Staples removing a 15-yard personal tainted for angry to a officials. (He was closely rhythmical by Clemson’s Cordrea Tankersley.) Staples barked during a official, and Louisville marched 15 yards retrograde to a possess 18. A shanked punt by Mason King gave Clemson a brief margin during a Louisville 44, and it took only 3 plays for a Tigers to take a 21–7 lead.
Louisville apparently found a balance in a second half, as Jackson ran for a span of touchdowns, threw for another and led a Cardinals on dual margin idea drives to open a half. But in a end, Louisville couldn’t totally master a moment. Its final dual drives finished with a punt and Quick entrance adult only short.
The Cardinals showed on Saturday night they are each bit of a inhabitant pretension hazard they’d flashed early in a season. But they also schooled a unpleasant doctrine of how self-inflicted wounds and a furious throng can keep a module from pulling itself to a tip niche of a sport.