This will be a much closer game than people realize & I would not be surprised if the Cardinal pulled off the upset. Join us as we share a free college football pick on this week 3 game.
With Clemson coming in ranked 11th in the country it makes sense for them to be favored in this spot against the 0-2 Cardinals. Across the board right now the Tigers are favored from -5.5 to -6, so I will take the plus money on the Cardinals at +6 at Pinnacle Sports -110.
Last week offensively Clemson dominated an over matched Appalachian State team producing 41 points, 392 yards of offense, with a third down conversion rate of 33.33%. Surprisingly their statistics don't really match up with the final score being that the total yards and the conversion rate on third down were not that great. Their large final was partly due to four turnovers by Appalachian State, but this is not to minimize that this is a good offensive team. Today they are facing their first road test against a Louisville defense that I believe is better than how they have played this early in the season. They are also on a short week and might, but not the reason for this play, be peeking ahead to the Irish in two weeks. Quarterback Deshaun Watson has a lot of talent but he has only had truly one road game where he played most the downs, last year against Florida State where he played pretty well with a 147.7 QB rating.
Defensively the Tigers last week gave up just 10 points, 298 total yards, and a third down conversion rate of 18.75%. They weren't challenged in the passing game very much with Appalachian State only throwing under 40% of the time. Today they face a much tougher task against a Cardinals offense that is still finding their way, but should play better today. It will be the Tigers first real test against a talented but underrated offense.
Offensively in two games the Cardinals have averaged 27.5 points per game, 400 total yards per game, and a third-down conversion rate of 48.15%. They have some serious question marks on the offensive line, and at some other skill positions including quarterback. It is not that they lack the talent at those positions it is just that they lack the experience. The learning curve is over for them now and I expect for Louisville on this side of the ball to come in well-prepared and produce some points. In their last game against Houston they had five turnovers so I can only imagine what the main point was on this week during practice. With Bobby Petrino at the helm I think he will pull the right strings to get this offense back on track. It'll be interesting to see who gets the most amount of snaps behind center.
Defensively Louisville has allowed 32.5 points per game, 394.5 yards per game, and a third-down conversion rate of 46.88%. That third-down conversion rate is way too high and I look for them to focus in on that set of downs versus Clemson. They have a lot of solid returners on defense, but as mentioned, the offense giving the other team the ball on too many occasions can cause any defense problems, even a good one. Their statistics so far are not what they should be because there is some good returning talent on that defensive front, and as a whole were ranked one of the best defenses last year in the country. Playing at home versus a ranked team should get them extremely motivated.
I am a fan of Dabo Swinney as he has found a home at Clemson and is a very good college football coach. Today though, I think the Tigers are in for a bit of an awakening against a very underrated, and also well coached team, in Louisville. I expect Petrino to have his team primed and ready for this matchup no matter who gets the most reps at quarterback. I'm going to put a lot of faith in the Cardinals and expect this game to go down to the wire tonight, I suggest you back them as well as one of your College Football Picks.
College Football Pick: Louisville Cardinals +6 at Pinnacle