The Cards did not have long to enjoy their first victory over a ranked team in years, as they had to turn right around and face the defending national champions #3 Clemson.
And while Louisville hung in there in the first half, they couldn’t over the Tigers’ onslaught and were defeated 45-10.
Clemson needs no introduction. The Tigers are currently on a 21-game winning streak and appear primed to make a run at a third national title in four years. They’re not perfect though, barely squeaking out a 21-20 win against North Carolina three weeks ago and sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence hasn’t looked as indefatigable as he did last season. They do sport one of the best defenses in the country though.
Louisville would have to play their best football to beat them though. Already outperforming almost all expectations for this point in the season, a win against a top team such as Clemson would truly show the new and improved Cardinals.
With Jawon Pass now officially out for the season with a toe injury, Micale Cunningham took over as the definitive starter for Louisville.
The Cards’ first drive ended in an interception, and Clemson promptly marched it down the field. The Cards were able to hold them on third down and the Tigers were forced to kick a field goal.
Clemson’s next drive ended when Louisville intercepted the ball at the goal line. Louisville couldn’t do much with the opportunity, as Clemson recovered a Micale Cunningham fumble. The Tigers then threw yet another interception on the following possession. And then when the Cards tried to move the ball Tutu Atwell first appeared to fumble the ball, but it was later ruled an incomplete pass.
Clemson would finally score the first touchdown of the game on a six-yard TD pass to get a 10-0 lead with just under 11 minutes to go in the second quarter. Louisville scored their first points of the game on a Blanton Creque field goal with five minutes left to go in the half.
While the Cards were unable to score again, their defense was able to hold Clemson until the final seconds of the half, when they threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to get a 17-3 lead into halftime.
The first half was a wild one. Each team had two turnovers apiece. Clemson’s early kickoff fumble for a touchback maybe should have been a safety and two more points for Louisville.
The second half didn’t start out well for the Cards. While they stopped the Tiger’s first drive, they lost Hassan Hall, their dynamic running back and returner, for the rest of the game with an injury.
Then on Louisville’s first offensive drive they went for it on fourth down but couldn’t convert, giving Clemson great field position. Luckily the defense was able to keep the Tigers from scoring.
Then a Louisville punt ended in a brawl with a Clemson player getting ejected.
In the waning minutes of the third quarter, the Tigers broke off a 49-yard TD run to get up 24-3. They would follow that up with another two touchdowns shortly into the fourth to thoroughly put the game away.
The Cards would score their first touchdown of the game on a three-yard run by Javian Hawkins with just over five minutes left in the game.
It was not nearly enough to compete with Clemson, who scored yet another touchdown in the final minute of the game.
The Cardinal defense performed admirably, picking Trevor Lawrence off twice and holding Clemson within one score until the very end of the first half. The offense moved the ball in some spots but couldn’t overcome the Tigers’ stout defense.
Micale Cunningham completed four of his 11 passes for 63 yards and an interception.
Evan also Conley threw 4-11, getting 44 yards and an interception.
Javian Hawkins was the leading rusher with 26 carries for 129 yards and a touchdown.
Dez Fitzpatrick led the Cards in receiving with three catches for 63 yards.
Clemson moves to 7-0 on the season (5-0 ACC). Louisville falls to 4-3 (2-2 ACC).
The Cards remain at home to play Virginia on October 26.<