Re­match turns into run­away as Tigers throt­tle Car­di­nals


The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY GENE WANG

louisville — The mem­bers of the Clem­son de­fense had heard all week about the un­canny play­mak­ing abil­ity of La­mar Jack­son, Louisville’s Heis­man Tro­phy-win­ning quar­ter­back who had per­formed mag­nif­i­cently last year in nearly en­gi­neer­ing an up­set of the Tigers.

The Clem­son de­fen­sive line, in par­tic­u­lar, took ex­cep­tion to the sug­ges­tion that Jack­son was poised to el­e­vate his Heis­man can­di­dacy this sea­son with an­other vir­tu­oso show­ing, this time in the friendly con­fines of Car­di­nal Sta­dium and in front of a na­tional tele­vi­sion au­di­ence.

The Tigers in­stead had Jack­son back-ped­dling and scram­bling far more of­ten than he’s ac­cus­tomed dur­ing a 47-21 state­ment win Satur­day night that puts No. 3 Clem­son in early po­si­tion for a spot in the NCAA play­off and a run at a se­cond straight na­tion-

al cham­pi­onship.

Clem­son (3-0) also gained the in­side track on win­ning the com­pet­i­tive ACC At­lantic Divi­sion. The No. 14 Car­di­nals (2-1), mean­while, are left to won­der what went awry in an­other clunker, at least when the out­come re­mained in doubt, against a premier de­fense.

In last year’s Cit­rus Bowl, Louisiana State bot­tled Jack­son on the way to a 29-9 vic­tory.

Jack­son fin­ished with 381 yards of to­tal of­fense against Clem­son, much of it cos­metic and com­ing with the Car­di­nals well be­hind in the fourth quar­ter. His long­est run went for 30 yards, and he did not score a rush­ing touch­down in front of an an­nounced crowd of 55,588, the se­cond largest in Car­di­nal Sta­dium his­tory.

El­bow room in the stands grew in­creas­ingly avail­able in the fi­nal min­utes of the third quar­ter fol­low­ing a one-yard touch­down run by Clem­son quar­ter­back Kelly Bryant, charged with re­plac­ing De­shaun Wat­son, the of­fen­sive MVP in last sea­son’s na­tional cham­pi­onship game.

Bryant’s touch­down ex­tended the lead to 33-7 with 2:16 to go. The Tigers had been in front, 26-7, with 8:57 to play when line­backer Do­rian O’Daniel gath­ered a leap­ing in in­ter­cep­tion of Jack­son’s pass and re­turned it 44 yards for a touch­down. It was the first touch­down of O’Daniel’s ca­reer and Clem­son’s first turnover forced this year.

The Tigers rolled up 613 yards of to­tal of­fense and av­er­aged 7.6 yards per play. Bryant, a ju­nior, com­pleted 22 of 32 passes for 316 yards and one touch­down with­out an in­ter­cep­tion be­fore ex­it­ing for good with five min­utes to play. He added two rush­ing touch­downs, out­shin­ing Jack­son when it mat­tered in the much-hyped matchup.

Louisville fans be­gan lin­ing up out­side the gates hours be­fore kick­off of one of the most an­tic­i­pated games in school his­tory. Most of the Car­di­nals faith­ful ar­rived clad in black, in­clud­ing some proudly wear­ing T-shirts em­bla­zoned with “Heis­man” in a nod to Jack­son.

The ju­nior is seek­ing to become the se­cond player to win col­lege foot­ball’s most pres­ti­gious in­di­vid­ual award twice, join­ing Ohio State’s Archie Griffin. Jack­son’s Heis­man cam­paign this sea­son got off to rous­ing start over the first two games, in­clud­ing last week when he amassed 525 to­tal yards and ac­counted for six touch­downs in a 47-35 win against North Carolina.

Ap­prox­i­mat­ing those sta­tis­tics, how­ever, fig­ured to be a chore against Clem­son, which fea­tures one of the most men­ac­ing de­fen­sive lines in the coun­try. En­ter­ing the game, the Tigers were lead­ing ma­jor col­lege foot­ball with 60 sacks, in­clud­ing 11 in last week’s 14-6 vic­tory over then-No. 13 Auburn.

In ad­di­tion, the Tigers had been ap­proach­ing this game with an edge fol­low­ing Jack­son’s per­for­mance against them last year. In that 42-36 Clem­son tri­umph in Death Val­ley, Jack­son com­bined for 457 to­tal yards, 162 rush­ing. He also rushed for a pair of touch­downs and threw for an­other.

With the first ma­jor show­down be­tween ACC pow­ers at hand this time, the sta­dium Satur­day night was vir­tu­ally filled by kick­off, with the sea of Louisville black dwarf­ing Clem­son fans in their cus­tom­ary or­ange. Tigers sup­port­ers oc­cu­pied roughly five sec­tions com­pris­ing both the lower and up­per bowls in one open end of the sta­dium by the Louisville foot­ball com­plex.

They cheered as loudly as they could when the Tigers ran onto the field, but their voices be­came barely audi­ble as Louisville play­ers emerged from their red tun­nel.

Clem­son loy­al­ists were able to cel­e­brate the first points of the game when Bryant kept the ball on a read op­tion, ran around the right side and dragged a de­fender into the end zone with 9:45 left in the first quar­ter. Bryant’s fourth rush­ing touch­down of the sea­son capped a 10-play drive cov­er­ing 79 yards that fea­tured his 40-yard com­ple­tion to wide re­ceiver Hunter Ren­frow.

The game was tied at 7 with 4:22 re­main­ing in the first quar­ter when Jack­son di­rected a 95yard drive that ended with his eight-yard com­ple­tion to tight end Charles Stand­berry. Dur­ing the se­ries, Jack­son broke loose for a 30-yard run that moved him into first in ACC his­tory in ca­reer rush­ing yards (2,822) by a quar­ter­back, sur­pass­ing Georgia Tech’s Joshua Nes­bitt.


The Clem­son de­fense ha­rassed Louisville quar­ter­back La­mar Jack­son, mostly keep­ing him in check un­til the game was de­cided.


Clem­son quar­ter­back Kelly Bryant, re­plac­ing first-round pick De­shaun Wat­son, ran for two touch­downs and passed for an­other score.

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