UVa and Virginia Tech beat writers predict this weekend's games

UVa and Virginia Tech beat writers predict this weekend's games

While I could talk about Baker Mayfield for another section, it's time to look ahead to the marquee match-up of the weekend: The No. 3 Clemson Tigers at the No. 14 Louisville Cardinals. It is coming off a hard-fought 14-6 win over Auburn last Saturday.

Defensive players have been known to make bold vows before facing Jackson of how they'll stop the dual-threat quarterback, and nearly always their predictions have proven wrong.

As for Louisville, there are also numerous changes of note. Clemson's defense is obviously very talented. Lamar Jackson has looked like the Lamar Jackson that won a Heisman last season, while Clemson's defense looks meaner than hell.

The Cardinals have been agonizingly close to beating the Tigers since joining the Atlantic Coast Conference, losing the past three games by a total of 15 points. U.S. sportsbooks aren't favoring Clemson all that heavily, which further proves the previous points. That won't happen in Week 3, as we have differing opinions on how the ACC's signature game this week - Clemson at Louisville - will play at.

Kelly Bryant is a solid replacement for the departed Deshaun Watson and last week played well against a very good Auburn defense, completing19 of 29 passes for 181 yards and leading the team in rushing with 59 yards on 19 carries. His full range of gifts (he's averaging 505 yards per game) was on display last Saturday when he passed for 393 yards and ran for 132 more in a decisive victory at North Carolina. Which position group could be better in 2017 after the national championship?

Ahead of the Clemson/Louisville matchup Saturday, Swinney hailed Jackson as "crazy good". Says Lamar Jackson in the discussion. "When I get into my game I'm just real focused, so I don't do things like that". The Kentucky performance is a bit of an outlier - the Wildcats were a bad run defense in 2016, but things were kind of unraveling for Louisville by that point last season. Led by reigning Heisman trophy victor Lamar Jackson, the Cardinals entered 2017 ranked 16th amidst doubts about supporting talent. Junior defensive lineman Christian Wilkins contributed another 10, and junior defensive end Austin Bryant made four of Clemson's 11 sacks.

Fisher, however, is also confident in his team's abilities, despite having lost to Clemson in all three games played since Louisville joined the ACC.

A year ago in Death Valley, Jackson fared well against an equally tough Tigers defense, passing for 295 yards and rushing for 162 in a 42-36 loss that went to the wire. Will told us that he believes it will be a lower scoring game this year than last between these two teams.

In SB Nation's Bill Connelly's S&P+ Rankings, Clemson sits at fifth while Louisville is down a little further at 14th. Florida State's Jimbo Fisher ranks third (.813), followed by Clemson's Dabo Swinney (sixth, .765), Miami's Mark Richt (seventh, .738), Louisville's Bobby Petrino (ninth, .721), Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson (16th, .669) and Virginia's Bronco Mendenhall (18th, .654).

Jackson and the Cardinals were knocking on the door of a game-winning score when receiver James Quick came up a yard short on fourth-and-12 at the Clemson 3 with 33 seconds left.

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