Game Preview: Louisville at Clemson

PICKENS, S.C. -- Cardinal Authority provides a preview of Saturday's first-ever meeting between Louisville and Clemson.

Game Details

Where: Memorial Stadium 'Death Valley' (81,500)
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m.
Radio: ESPN Radio
Surface: Natural Grass

The Backdrop

Louisville (5-1, 3-1) enters Saturday's contest with a half game lead over Clemson (3-2,2-1) in the ACC's Atlantic Division. Both trail defending national champion and undefeated Florida State in the battle for the division's spot in the ACC Championship.

Louisville's lone loss of the season came in week three at Virginia on a field goal late in the fourth quarter, while the Cardinals falling 23-21. Clemson lost it's season-opener against rival Georgia in Athens 45-21 and fell 23-17 in overtime at Florida State.

The Cardinals are coming off a 28-6 at Syracuse, while the Tigers shut out visiting N.C. State 41-0 last weekend.

Series History

This is the first-ever meeting between the two programs.

The Cardinals look for their 29th win in the last 34 games this weekend at Clemson. Louisville is 28-4 over the last three seasons.

About the Tigers

**QB Deshaun Watson has thrown for 1,181 yards and 12 touchdowns this season, while compiling a 197.93 pass efficiency rating.

**The Tigers have only turned the football over four times this season, throwing only two interceptions on 177 throws.

**WR Mike Williams is averaging 24.8 yards per reception this season.

**The Tigers are averaging 490.8 yards of total offense this season after gaining 493 in a 41-0 win over NC State last Saturday.

**Victor Beasley is second in the nation with 7.0 sacks this season.

**The Tigers are averaging 40.4 points per game this season and have scored 40 or more points three times, including 73 in a win over South Carolina State.

Statistical Comparison

The Cardinals have allowed an average of 13.0 points per game in the four ACC contests this season and they will need that type of performance against a Clemson offense that has averaged 45 points in its last two outings.

Nat'l Rank Stat Nat'l Rank Stat
Total Offense
85 388.30 26 490.8
Passing Offense
66 231.8 10 335.8
Passing Efficiency
67 128.42 7 167.76
Rushing Offense
74 156.5 76 155.0
Scoring Offense
52 33.3 19 40.4
First Downs
37 124 58 116
Third Down Conv.
59 42/99 16 44/90
Rushing Defense
1 58.3 24 110.6
Pass Defense
12 171.8 17 180.2
Pass Eff. Defense
10 93.87 23 107.88
Total Defense
1 230.2 10 290.8
Net Punting
99 34.2 34 39.2
Kickoff Returns
16 25.3 123 16.0
Turnover Margin
51 +2 23 +4
Sacks 16 21 19 16
Tackles For Loss
18 44 6 41


**Quarterback Reggie Bonnafon, a true freshman, is 2-0 as a starter after posting a 28-6 win over Syracuse on Friday night. Bonnafon threw for 174 yards and a score in the win over Syracuse. In his two starts, Bonnafon is completing 51.9 percent of his throws, but has passed for 380 yards and one score, and has tossed just one interception..

**The Cardinals haven’t allowed a touchdown in the last 13 quarters dating back to their 23-21 loss to Virginia on Sept. 13. The Cavaliers scored on a Grayson Lambert 10-yard run in the third quarter for the last touchdown allowed. The Cardinals have allowed just five field goals over the last 13 quarters. In the red zone this season, the Cardinals have allowed the opponents to score just five touchdowns in 16 opportunities.

**Gerod Holliman recorded his national best seventh interception versus Syracuse on Friday night. He has five interceptions in the last three games.

**Sophomore Brandon Radcliff has averaged 119.5 yards per game over the last two games, posting a pair of 100-yard games in wins over Wake Forest and Syracuse. Earning starts in the last two games, Radcliff rushed for 129 yards in the win over the Demon Deacons and followed it up with 110 yards on Oct. 3 versus Syracuse.

**Saturday’s game at Clemson will be only the eighth game played on natural grass for the Cardinals over the last three seasons. This will be the Cardinals second this season played on natural grass after playing at Virginia on Sept. 13. Louisville is 6-1 in those games, with the only loss coming to Virginia this season.

**Under Petrino, the Cardinals are 82-13 when scoring 20 or more points in a game and 75-6 when recording 25 or more points in a contest.

**Louisville has scored in 25 of its 27 trips (93%) to the red zone this season. In 2013, Louisville finished 50-of-58 in the red zone (86%).

**Louisville is 46-8 when scoring 20 points or more under Bobby Petrino and 40-4 when leading after three quarters during his tenure .

Social Updates

Cardinal Authority's Jody Demling and Michael McCammon will provide updates before, during and after the game via the Cardinal Authority forums and social media.

Beginning near kickoff, Cardinal Authority will host a live game thread in the Insiders forum, which is located here. Fans are encouraged to participate in the discussion. Additionally, there is a game thread in the Cardinal Authority football forum, The CardMarch, located here.

Follow publisher Jody Demling on Twitter at @jdemling and senior writer Michael McCammon at @mcmichael20.

Also, be sure to follow Cardinal Authority on Instagram by clicking here.

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