Lamar Jackson Struggles in Louisville's 47-21 Loss to Clemson

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistSeptember 17, 2017

Sep 16, 2017; Louisville, KY, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Kelly Bryant (2) runs the ball past Louisville Cardinals defensive back Zykiesis Cannon (24) during the second quarter at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson contained Lamar Jackson as well as anyone else in college football to earn a 47-21 road win over Louisville on Saturday night.

The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner threw three touchdown passes, although two came after his team was too far back to pull off the upset.

Kelly Bryant took care of business on the other end with three total touchdowns to lead the No. 3 Tigers to a key ACC victory and their eighth straight win overall dating back to last season.

Few teams have shown the ability to limit Jackson over the past two seasons, but the Tigers held him in check in the first half and were uncatchable in the second.

While Jackson ended up with respectable numbers, finishing with 317 passing yards and 64 rushing yards, it was far from his best outing. 

The Clemson defense, which also scored a touchdown, was impressive throughout the win:

Tony Dungy @TonyDungy

Clemson's defense is too fast for Louisville. As explosive as Lamar Jackson is he can't get anything going tonight.

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Matt Hinton @MattRHinton

Again, Clemson's defense is the dominant unit in college football. The line especially, but really the entire D.

Bryant was the individual star of the game, though, as the quarterback finished with 316 passing yards, one passing touchdown and two rushing scores in just his third career start.

While everyone was singing his praises based on the solid play, no one had a more powerful statement than former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson:

Deshaun Watson @deshaunwatson

He will be better than me! https://t.co/CUyyNcesZO

Considering what Watson accomplished both individually and with the team, this is quite a compliment. Bryant helped the Tigers outgain the Cardinals 613-433 in the dominant victory.

Jackson did have a few highlight-reel plays in the first half, breaking off a long run and completing this touchdown pass on the run to tie the game at 7-7, as ESPN relayed:

ESPN @espn

Louisville. On the board. https://t.co/1RDYcoFz6H

However, the Clemson defense otherwise held him in check early, limiting him to just 83 passing yards in the first half.

Bryant had no problem racking up yards against the Cardinals defense, building up a 19-7 halftime lead behind 238 passing yards. The junior got 79 of those on this big play to Ray-Ray McCloud:

ESPN @espn

The champs are playing the part. Can Clemson hold off Louisville in the second half? Catch it on ABC or streaming on the ESPN App. https://t.co/8LtOXM2R5t

Competing in his first road game as a starter, the quarterback turned heads from the opening kickoff:

Bonta Hill @BontaHill

Kelly Bryant is some talent. Better pro prospect than Lamar Jackson in my opinion.

Stewart Mandel @slmandel

Kelly Bryant seems to have a handle on this whole QB thing.

Although the Tigers had dominated for much of the night, though, the score remained close in the third quarter. This was until Dorian O'Daniel picked off Jackson and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown to extend the lead to 26-7.

Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports noted that the play was surprising:

Pat Forde @YahooForde

Jackson had thrown 108 passes this year without an interception until that one. Surprisingly, it was Clemson's first takeaway of the season

After forcing another three-and-out, Clemson put the game away with a 11-play scoring drive capped by Bryant's second rushing touchdown of the day. 

Every time the Cardinals fought back from there, the Tigers answered, keeping plenty of breathing room through the end. Thanks to long touchdown runs from Adam Choice and Travis Etienne, the visitors finished with 297 rushing yards at 6.2 per carry.

Both teams likely still have sights on the ACC championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff, but the Cardinals will probably have to be perfect from here.

Louisville has a few nonconference games to rack up wins against Kent State and Murray State while Clemson will return home to face Boston College next week.


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