Kelly Bryant continues to pass tests, and the Tigers continue to pile up wins.
Clemson’s junior quarterback outplayed Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson Saturday night as the Tigers pounded Louisville 47-21 in front of 55,588 fans at Papa John’s Stadium, the second largest crowd in stadium history.
Bryant was phenomenal in leading the Tigers to a second consecutive win over a top-15 team in his first career road start, passing for 316 yards, rushing for 26 more and finishing with three total touchdowns. He exited the game midway through the fourth quarter with Clemson in control.
The win is Clemson’s 11th consecutive on the road, setting a school record.
“It’s a great start for us in ACC play. Obviously a huge division game,” Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said. “Any time you can go on the road and win it’s a big boost for you. It takes a lot of mental toughness and focus to be able to go on the road and win.”
Clemson’s defense kept Jackson contained for the most of the night as the Cardinals managed seven points through the first three quarters before Louisville added a few scores in the fourth quarter with the game out of reach.
Jackson finished with 317 passing yards, 64 rushing yards and three touchdowns, but a lot of his damage was done against Clemson’s reserves.
“Louisville’s a heck of a football team. They are a big time challenge,” Swinney said. “We were able to posses the ball and limit their possessions, something we weren’t able to do last season.”
The teams traded touchdowns in the first quarter, with Bryant scoring on an 8-yard run and Jackson finding Charles Standberry for an 11-yard score, but it was all Clemson from that point forward. The Tigers scored the next 26 points and led 33-7 entering the fourth quarter.
Star of the game: It was a quarterback, but maybe not the one many expected. All of the talk entering the game was centered on Jackson, but it was Bryant who made more plays with his arm and legs.
Play of the game: Bryant found receiver Ray-Ray McCloud wide open down the right sideline for a 79-yard score in the second quarter to give the Tigers a 16-7 lead. It was the longest play by Clemson since 2013.
Stat of the game: 2. Clemson had two plays of 79 plus yards as Travis Etienne scored on an 81-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Clemson is a title contender: The Tigers look more than capable of repeating as national champions after passing a pair of big tests early in the season.
Bryant a star: Deshaun Watson tweeted out during the game that Bryant will be better than him. I’m not ready to say that yet, but he was mighty impressive on Saturday.
Who: Clemson (3-0, 1-0 ACC) vs. Boston College (1-2)
When: 3:30 p.m., Sept. 23
Where: Memorial Stadium, Clemson
Radio: 93.1 FM
No. 3 Clemson 47, No. 14 Louisville 21
CLE—K.Bryant 8 run (Huegel kick), 9:45
LOU—Standberry 11 pass from L.Jackson (Creque kick), 4:22
CLE—FG Huegel 31, 6:57
CLE—McCloud 79 pass from K.Bryant (kick failed), 4:06
CLE—FG Huegel 49, :28
CLE—O’Daniel 44 interception return (Huegel kick), 8:57
CLE—K.Bryant 1 run (Huegel kick), 2:16
LOU—Ja.Smith 36 pass from L.Jackson (Creque kick), 13:45
CLE—Choice 39 run (Huegel kick), 11:56
LOU—Fitzpatrick 8 pass from L.Jackson (Creque kick), 7:37
CLE—Etienne 81 run (Huegel kick), 6:27
Time of Possession
RUSHING—Clemson, Etienne 6-98, Feaster 10-92, Choice 4-47, Fuller 10-34, K.Bryant 18-26. Louisville, L.Jackson 17-64, M.Williams 6-35, Bonnafon 4-17.
PASSING—Clemson, K.Bryant 22-32-0-316, H.Johnson 1-1-0-0. Louisville, L.Jackson 21-42-1-317.
RECEIVING—Clemson, McCloud 7-115, H.Renfrow 4-71, Cain 4-29, Di.Overton 2-48, Thompson 1-16, Richard 1-11, Fuller 1-11, Higgins 1-8, Feaster 1-7, W.Swinney 1-0. Louisville, Ja.Smith 5-79, Standberry 4-34, S.Dawkins 4-28, M.Williams 3-36, Samuel 2-100, Fitzpatrick 2-38, Crum 1-2.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—Clemson, Huegel 42.