Louisville is 2-6 and is coming off a 56-35 home loss to a Wake Forest team that entered last week’s matchup with no ACC wins.
The Cardinals are 0-5 in the ACC, and their only two wins are against Indiana State and Western Kentucky.
Clemson is a 39-point favorite against the Cardinals after beating Florida State 59-10 on Saturday, and on paper this is one of the most lopsided matchups in recent ACC history.
Still, Clemson’s coaching staff always talks up its opponents, and this week is no different.
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“They’re the best 2-6 team I’ve seen. I don’t know how else to say it,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Tuesday. “Their record is not indicative of the players that they have.”
Louisville has been particularly bad on defense in its past three games. Wake Forest, a team that Clemson held to three points a few weeks ago, scored 56 on the Cardinals in three quarters on Saturday.
Georgia Tech scored 66 points on Louisville in early October, and the Cardinals have allowed an average of 53 points over their past three games.
“They are still very talented and they got a lot of D-linemen that they roll in there. The linebackers are big. They got a couple of explosive guys in the secondary, still young at some spots. That’s what you are seeing more so than anything is more of the youth is starting to show up as you get later in the season,” Tigers co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. “They are very capable. They got some really good looking bodies on that defensive line that flash at times. If they put it all together, they are going to be scary.”
Out of 129 FBS teams Louisville is No. 115 in scoring defense, No. 103 in total defense, No. 124 in team sacks and No. 122 in tackles for loss.
“You look at their defensive line, they’ve got some guys. They’ve got a bunch of guys,” Swinney said. “They’ve got a good scheme on that side of the ball. They’re aggressive. They’ve had some short fields that they’ve had to deal with along the way. But this is not a 2-6 football team. That’s what their record is, but that’s not indicative of the type of talent that they have on this team.”
Offensively, the Cardinals have struggled as well.
Louisville ranks No. 114 in scoring offense and No. 112 in total offense. Louisville has also committed 16 turnovers, which is No. 108 nationally.
“These guys right here, man… They’re physical. This is as well a coordinated offensive scheme as we’ve gone against. They do a great job schematically,” Swinney said. “Big, huge offensive line. Probably the biggest offensive line we’ve played. Massive up front. As good a group of receivers as we’ve played... The way they’re style of play, you better have your mind right, because if not they can embarrass you pretty quick with their style.”
Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables brought that up this week as he heaped praise on the Cardinals.
“I see a good looking football team. I know if you go back and look at the beginning of the year, coach Petrino’s never been one to make all these declarations and ‘We’re gonna be this. We’re gonna be this. We’re gonna be this.’ He kind of calls it how it is. He felt this was his most talented team. He felt this was his fastest team and his most explosive team,” Venables said. He felt that they’d be a little more consistent this year post Lamar Jackson. They’ve had a lot of opportunities to win a lot of their games. You’ve gotta make layups. We know what that’s like. If you’re not making layups it’s hard to get into a rhythm and it’s hard to win.”