Clemson ready for ACC showdown with Louisville aft

  • ATLANTA Heythere, Clemson.For those who like watching elite college football teams, it was nice to see those Tigers again, at least for a bit. The real Tigers. The Tigers we all talked about in the preseason. The national title contender, led by a Heisman Trophy candidate and an aggre sive, attacking defense that makes opponents think not again over and over.MORE: We knew that Clemson was in there somewhere. The Tigers were 3-0 heading into this game, but they werent exactly steamrolling people. Well, the best version of Dabo Swinneys team showed up in an overwhelming first half of on Thursday night at Bobby Dodd Stadium, Clemson’s first win in Atlanta since 2003.Outside of just a couple of miscues, it was just a dominant performance, Swinney said of that first-half showing .Hes not exaggerating. Georgia Tech ran 10 plays for a net of minus-1 yard in the first quarter. By halftime, Clemson held a 347-22 advantage in yards gained. Clemson had 19 first downs, and Georgia Tech somehow had three (penalties helped). Clemson led23-0.MORE: The second half? Yikes.The second half was weird, Swinney said.For Clemson fans, that second half was way too reminiscent of the back-to-back methodical-and-uninspiring six-point wins against Auburn in the opener and Troy in Week 2. The waxing of South Carolina State, an FCS team, isnt really relevant when the conversation is about Clemsons place among national title contenders. Georgia Tech had 102 yards on offense in the second half; Clemson had just 95. The Yellow Jackets scored seven points; the Tigers didnt find the end zone.DeCOURCY: Still, that first half left a pretty big impre sion. That was a team looking to make a statement in a Thursday night ESPN game, and it made that statement in a big way. Deshaun Watson finished with 304 yards pa sing, completing 32 of 48 pa ses, and he gained 36 yards rushing.The Clemson we saw in the first half can hang with Louisville and its superstar quarterback, Lamar Jackson, next week. Those Tigers can beat Louisville (it doesnt hurt that the Oct.1 game is in South Carolina instead of Kentucky).Regardle s of the outcome, how much fun is that game going to benext Saturday in Death Valley? No. 3 Louisville vs. No. 5 Clemson. Jackson vs. Watson. The battle for ACC supremacy and a spot in the national title conversation.So, yes, Clemson was already being asked about Louisville and Jackson, even though it hadnt even reached the team bus after earning a rare win at Georgia Tech.BOWL PROJECTIONS: If a guy is just a runner, hes easy to defend. If hes just a pa ser, a little bit easier to defend. But when theyve got the weapons, the great defense, (Jackson) can run it, he can throw it, hes very dynamic with his speed and his arm, defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. Theyve got what looks like a complete team, and hes just a very dynamic player, that you can have everything right and he can get himself out of tough situations.Game time next week is 8 p.m. Eastern, and it cant get here soon enough.

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