Louisville (4-3, 2-2 ACC) brought forth a worthy challenge to No. 3 Clemson (7-0, 5-0 ACC) at the start of the game but a failure to capitalize on early mistakes by the Tigers would do more than come back to haunt the Cardinals. Clemson overcame their own self-inflicted mistakes in a 44-10 rout of Louisville on the road Saturday afternoon.
Clemson running back Travis Etienne had a big day running the football with 192 yards and touchdown, although he did leave the game in the fourth quarter after coming up limping at the end of a play. Having Etienne proving capable of putting the team on his back at times was needed by Etienne, because quarterback Trevor Lawrence took some time to get his game going. Lawrence was picked off twice in the first half, bringing his season total to eight, but the sophomore star quarterback ended the day on a positive note. Lawrence tossed three touchdowns.
Clemson also got a strong effort from its defense, and they needed it in the first half. While the Clemson offense was running into its own problems, the defense was ready to get the ball back when needed and prevent the Louisville offense from establishing any momentum. Nyles Pinckney recovered a Louisville fumble by Micale Cunningham (forced by Justin Foster)five plays after Louisville picked off Lawrence in the end zone in the first quarter. The defense forced a three-and-out after Lawrence’s second interception after giving up just two yards.
It was a game that offered a reminder that Clemson’s defense is fully capable of dominating a game it needs to, even if the offense gets off to a slow start. It was also a brutal reminder that if you are going to upset Clemson, you have to capitalize on opportunities. Louisville simply was incapable of doing that.
Clemson will return home for their next two games. First up will be a matchup with Boston College next Saturday night. Then the Tigers get a glorified scrimmage against Wofford before returning to ACC play on the road against NC State. Louisville will stay home next week to host Virginia.