Tigers roar past Jackson, Cardinals

The Mercury News - - College Football Replay - By Gary B. Graves

Clem­son held 2016 Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner La­mar Jackson in check for most of the game, quar­ter­back coun­ter­part Kelly Bryant ac­counted for three touch­downs, and the third-ranked Tigers routed No. 14 Louisville 47-21 on Satur­day night in an At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence show­down.

Jackson passed for 317 yards and three TDs, but most of that came with things al­ready in hand for Clem­son (3-0, 1-0 ACC). The Tigers’ Do­rian O’Don­nell re­turned an in­ter­cep­tion 44 yards for a TD and a 26-7 third-quarter lead, and they sacked Jackson four times.

Bryant, mean­while, won the QB bat­tle with TD runs of 8 and 1 yards sand­wiched around a 79-yard scor­ing pass to wide-open RayRay McCloud in the sec­ond quarter.

Jackson had TD passes of 11 yards to Charles Stand­berry, 36 yards to Jaylen Smith and 8 to Dez Fitz­patrick. But the ju­nior strug­gled to throw and run all night for Louisville (2-1, 1-1 ACC). The Cardinals were out­gained 613-433, sav­ing face some­what with a 14-point fourth quarter.

Af­ter three wins over the Cardinals by 15 com­bined points, the Tigers left no doubt this time. Questions about the of­fense af­ter a 14-6 win over Auburn were ef­fec­tively an­swered with their sec­ond 40-point ef­fort in three games, this against a ranked op­po­nent. Bryant had time to find re­ceivers that were fre­quently open, par­tic­u­larly on the long TD against busted cov­er­age that sapped all the en­ergy in the hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment dressed in black. The de­fense yielded 433 yards, but it didn’t mat­ter af­ter do­ing its best work in the first three quar­ters.

A game-ty­ing drive in the first quarter was the Cardinals’ only bright spot on a night noth­ing worked. As bad as things were for Jackson, it’s much worse for their de­fense. They yielded at least 500 yards for the sec­ond time in five games dat­ing back to last sea­son and failed badly in their quest to not only avenge last year’s 42-36 loss to the Tigers, but prove they could be an ACC con­tender.

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