LOUISVILLE, KY. – For fans who prefer extra cheese with their TV football, Thursday night offers a home delivery bonus.
No. 11 Clemson vs. Louisville on ESPN, live from Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, and the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Denver Broncos and Papa John’s celebrity spokesperson/franchise owner/QB Peyton Manning on CBS and the NFL Network.
The NFL is king in America. If the college game makes a serious cut into Broncos-Chiefs ratings, Dabo Swinney is probably in a gloomy mood.
That would mean the Tigers go down to the wire in a thriller against Bobby Petrino and Co., and that’s not what an ACC title contender wants against a young, but talented team looking to avenge a zany 23-17 loss at Death Valley last season.
That very first meeting between the schools produced a combined three third-down conversions in 33 attempts.
Clemson didn’t score on offense (punt return for a touchdown by Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Adam Humphries, fumble return for a touchdown by Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett).
Quarterback Deshaun Watson suffered a broken hand.
Louisville came up just short when DeShawn Williams (Cincinnati Bengals practice squad) broke up a fourth-down pass in the end zone.
Scoring should be up Thursday night. Louisville lost six players on defense to the 2015 NFL draft, more than any other team. Clemson lost four, and two more players made it as undrafted free agents.
But look for both teams to play more ball-control than usual – Louisville because after losing 31-24 to Auburn and 34-31 to Houston, the Cardinals are 79th in the nation in scoring offense; Clemson because a running game built around Wayne Gallman (85.5-yard average in wins over Wofford and Appalachian State) travels well.
Clemson 27, Louisville 21
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff