The Clemson Tigers walked into Papa John’s Stadium in Louisville Thursday night and had the fight of their lives against a young Cardinals team but is it time to worry?
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and his No. 11 Tigers saw their College Football Playoff dreams flash before their eyes on multiple occasions Thursday night, as the Louisville Cardinals gave them everything they had and then some.
The game was only secured for Clemson on the last play of the game, when the Tigers managed to snag the game winning interception on a poorly thrown ball by Louisville quarterback Kyle Bolin.
The facet of the game that stuck out the most were the struggles of Clemson’s star quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Louisville showed up Thursday to play, or rather their defense did. Their defense took advantage of a banged up Clemson offensive line and was able to apply significant pressure to Watson. The constant pressure on Watson forced errant throws, two interceptions, and a pass that bounced off the grass that might have sealed the game late in the fourth quarter had it been completed.
If anything, the win was secured via the defense, as the Tiger defense only allowed Louisville to score a single offensive touchdown. En route to the eventual win, Clemson pressured the quarterback enough to get five sacks and allowed only 19 total rushing yards on 28 carries.
All in all, Watson played an average game against a team that they were favored against by six points. Much of that has to do with a hard-nosed defensive squad, but there isn’t any escaping the fact that Watson didn’t have a game worthy of his status as a star.
This was only one game, but it was Clemson’s first test of the season, one in which they barely managed to survive. Louisville has a great defense, but the Cardinals might not even have the best defense in the ACC.
On November 7, Clemson will play host to what has turned out to be (to this point) a very sturdy Florida State defense, and to win that game, Watson will have to live up to his hype in order for the Tigers to win, but if he plays like he did against Louisville, you can forget about Clemson winning the ACC, let alone a national title.
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