All eyes were on Death Valley for a top five showdown between No. 3 Louisville and No. 5 Clemson and the drama was not lacking in a wild first half that saw the Tigers storm back for a 28-10 lead heading into the locker room.
The Cardinals struck first to take the crowd out of the game early thanks to a methodical 11 play, 82 yard drive before tailback Jeremy Smith punched it in at the goal line.
Louisville appeared to be moving the ball toward the end zone again on their ensuing drive but quarterback Lamar Jackson wasn’t ready for a snap. After slipping through the hands of Smith, linebacker Ben Boulware was able to recover the fumble and put Clemson back in business.
Just two plays later, Deshuan Watson made up for an earlier red zone interception by lofting an NFL-caliber throw to Deon Cain along the sidelines to tie the game up.
While momentum seemed to be on the Tigers’ side for the first time since the opening minutes, both teams then decided to play hot potato with the football.
Jackson was intercepted. Clemson fumbled two plays later. Then Louisville gave it right back on a fumble.
Eventually the Tigers had enough and tailback Wayne Gallman busted a big run up the middle for a 24 yard score and the home team’s first lead of the game.
And that was in just over 90 seconds of game action.
The Cardinals eventually mounted a scoring drive in the final few minutes but ended up settling for a field goal with just seconds left on the clock. That was no problem for Watson, who peppered the field with precision passes before finding Artavis Scott 26 seconds later for a touchdown to extend their lead to 18 heading into the locker room.
It should make for a fun second half between two top five teams as an ACC division title, league championship and possible College Football Playoff berth are all on the line.