Getty Images

Late Deshaun Watson drive, defensive stand help No. 5 Clemson hold off No. 3 Louisville’s late comeback

12 Comments

Deshaun Watson spent most of the second half in an unfamiliar place: on the sidelines.

Lamar Jackson was also in a strange position: on the field in the fourth quarter.

No matter how strange things were for the two Heisman Trophy caliber quarterbacks however, few could have predicted the wild swings of a classic heavyweight battle that No. 5 Clemson survived with a 42-36 victory.

Jackson did his best in the hostile environment to keep Louisville’s perfect season alive by throwing for 295 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 162 more and two scores.

While Jackson was a big part in a rally that turned a 10 point deficit into a 12 point lead, Todd Grantham’s defense played a role too. Clemson came out of the locker room and turned the ball over three times — once in the red zone — and went three-and-out on another possession in the second half to stunt most of their momentum. Louisville responded with a 19-0 run on four consecutive scoring drives to storm back and take the lead.

Desperately needing something, Artavis Scott busted out a 77 yard return for the Tigers to get the crowd back into it at Memorial Stadium. Clemson scored just two plays later to cut it to a two point game.

That’s when Watson finally looked like the quarterback everybody was expecting coming into 2016. He helped mount an eight play, 85 yard drive with just over three minutes left before finding Jordan Leggett over the middle for the game-winning score.

Jackson responded by marching the Cards right down the field in the final minutes but receiver James Quick couldn’t quite make it to the first down marker or the end zone on fourth down to complete the second half comeback.

The win by the Tigers all but gives them the ACC Atlantic title and punches their ticket to the league title game. Clemson owns the head-to-head win over Louisville and is already two games up on Florida State ahead of their meeting in Tallahassee at the end of the month. Despite a lackluster first month of the season, the victory also helped show the nation that a return trip to the final four at the end of the year is just as realistic as it was in August.

The close loss doesn’t knock Louisville completely out of the ACC race nor does it eliminate them from a potential College Football Playoff bid but certainly takes a little wind out of their sails the rest of the season. They’ll need help to win the division but a dream season is certainly not over after Saturday’s thriller in which they came up just a little short.

USC optimistic Uchenna Nwosu will play against Cal

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Already battered by injuries on defense, USC may have avoided what would’ve potentially been a significant loss on that side of the ball.

Uchenna Nwosu suffered a sprained MCL in his knee during USC’s double-overtime win over Texas in Week 3.  After being held out in the early part of the week, the linebacker, armed — or kneed as the case may be — with a brace, returned to practice Wednesday.

Afterward, head coach Clay Helton seemed optimistic about Nwosu’s availability for the Week 4 game against Cal, their first road trip of the season.

Nwosu is currently second on the team in tackles with 20, while his seven pass breakups rank second nationally.  He’s started the first three games of the season for the Trojans after starting every game in 2016.

That brings us to the end of the positive injury news portion of the program as fellow linebacker Porter Gustin is very unlikely to play against the Golden Bears.  Gustin, who leads the Trojans in sacks with three, has been dealing with a surgically-repaired big toe.  While it didn’t keep him out of the Texas game as expected, he was sidelined again at practice Wednesday.

Additionally, defensive end Rasheem Green (ankle) and slot cornerback Ajene Harris (knee) are questionable for the road trip to Berkeley after sitting out practice yet again.

Tennessee LB Cortez McDowell’s season might not be over after all

Getty Images
Leave a comment

In the end, there could be an injury silver lining for Tennessee after all.

In the aftermath of the deflating last-second loss to rival Florida, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones announced that Cortez McDowell would miss the remainder of the 2017 season.  The linebacker sustained an injury to his wrist that, at the time, was deemed serious enough to shelve him for the rest of the year.

The key here is “at the time” as, a couple of days later, the prognosis has brightened slightly as Jones allowed Wednesday that McDowell could return at some point this season.  Whether it’s late in the regular season or even for a bowl game, the coach at least left the door open for the senior to play again in 2017.

Obviously, any availability would be determined in the coming weeks by the program’s medical staff.

McDowell would be eligible for a medical hardship waiver if he shut it down for the remainder of the season, which would give the fourth-year senior another year of eligibility to use in 2018.  At least at this point in time, that’s not the tack that either the player or the football program is taking.

After starting four of 12 games last season, McDowell started the first three games this season prior to his injury.

 

Derrius Guice ruled out for LSU’s game vs. Syracuse

Getty Images
2 Comments

So there you have it.

Late in the third quarter of Saturday’s 37-7 loss to Mississippi State, Derrius Guice sustained an injury to his left knee.  While Ed Orgeron downplayed the severity of the injury in the ensuing days, he allowed during his turn on the SEC coaches teleconference Wednesday that his star running back is “very questionable right now” for the Week 4 game against Syracuse.

Later that night, on the head coach’s radio show, the very questionable morphed into completely out.

Through three games, Guice leads the Tigers with 300 yards rushing and is tied for tops on the team with four rushing touchdowns. His rushing yards are currently fourth in the SEC; last season, his 1,387 yards were tops in the conference.

With Guice unable to go, Darrel Williams (28-159-4) will likely be next in line to shoulder the brunt of the running-game load.

Mason Rudolph’s younger brother sees freshman season at Clemson come to an injury end

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Mason Rudolph is looking at the rest of the season as an opportunity to continue pushing his way into the Heisman discussion and his team deeper into the College Football Playoff picture.  His younger brother, on the other hand, is looking at rehab.

Wednesday night, Clemson announced that Logan Rudolph will miss the remainder of the 2017 season because of a shoulder injury.  The defensive end sustained the injury during a Tuesday practice, and will undergo surgery at some point in the future to repair the damage.  Rudolph dealt with a shoulder issue late in his high school career, and it’s believed this is related to that.

A four-star member of the Tigers’ 2017 recruiting class, Rudolph was rated as the No. 23 weakside defensive end in the country and the No. 4 player at any position in the state of South Carolina.  After enrolling early and participating in spring practice, the true freshman played in two games as a backup behind starter Austin Bryant.  In that limited action, he was credited with three tackles and one tackle for loss.

Because of how few games he’s played, Rudolph would be eligible for a medical redshirt.  That would allow the lineman to extend his eligibility out through the 2021 season if he so desires.

Getting back to the famous name-drop in the lede, Rudolph’s older brother, of course, is the starting quarterback for No. 6 Oklahoma State.