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Lamar Jackson
Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson scrambles against LSU during the first half of the Citrus Bowl on Dec. 31 in Orlando, Fla.

John Raoux | The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE — This is not just another game. Saturday’s tilt between Clemson and host Louisville certainly has Atlantic Coast Conference implications. It could have national ramifications.

After a 2-0 start, the Cardinals have their first big game of the season when the defending national champion Tigers invade Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium in the national spotlight.

Clemson is also 2-0 coming into the contest. It is coming off a hard-fought 14-6 win over Auburn last Saturday.

“We feel great about this game,” Louisville senior running back Malik Williams said. “We feel like it is a rival. We just have to prove ourselves. Big game for us and this community.”

On its way to its first national title since 1981, the Tigers beat Louisville 42-36 in a wild game at Clemson last October. It was a game Louisville trailed 28-10 at the half before scoring 26 unanswered points to lead 36-28 with 7:52 remaining. Deshaun Watson, who was a first-round draft pick of the Houston Texans, rallied the Tigers with two fourth quarter touchdown passes.

“We’ve kind of got a chip on our shoulder from last year,” junior offensive lineman Geron Christian said. “It’s another big game.”

Unlike last year, when the Louisville-Clemson game featured the nation’s top two offensive weapons in Watson and Louisville quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, the focus will be on Louisville’s offense vs. Clemson’s defense.

Led by Jackson, who has 255 yards rushing and 771 passing in the first two games, the Cardinals’ offense is ranked fifth in the country. Clemson has allowed just nine points in two games and Tigers defensive end Austin Bryant is the reigning national Defensive Player of the Week after his four sacks in the win over Auburn.

“They always have a great defense, real strong defensive front, fast linebackers and secondary and do a really good job of playing together and playing hard, so we’ve got a great challenge there,” Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said. “We’ll have to be able to mix the run and the pass and be balanced, not just count on one phase: running or passing.”

The Tigers have limited opponents to just over 118 yards per contest, including just 40 through the air.

“They’re very good up front,” Petrino said. ”They’ve got two big, physical defensive tackles, two really good guys on the edge. We played against two of their three linebackers last year that are really fast and slippery. They slip blocks and make tackles and they keep them free.

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The College Football Playoff Committee chose Alabama (#1 seed), Ohio State (#2 seed), Michigan (#3 seed) and Clemson (#4 seed) as the four teams projected in the playoff.

CFB Committee chair Kirby Hocutt shared on Tuesday night the committee’s reasoning why Clemson was ranked above Louisville.

“Louisville has been viewed as a very talented team,” Hocutt said. “There is a small separation between teams two through six. When you look at #4 Clemson and #5 Louisville, Clemson has three wins against CFP top 25 teams compared to one for Louisville at this time and the committee still places a high value on the head to head Clemson has over Louisville at this time as well.”

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — After a night of arguing (I know, I was there), morning has come in Louisville with the College Football Playoff selection committee’s rankings being are what they are.

I’m not sure why the surprise. For two days, I said on three different mediums (internet, television, radio) that the Cardinals would be the No. 5 team in the rankings when they were announced Tuesday night, and sure enough, there they were. (Or, as Mr. Tony Kornheiser would say, I believe I had that.)

But I also believe I have this: If Louisville wins out, even moderately impressively, the Cardinals have a path to the college football playoff, and a good chance of being one of the four teams standing at the end.

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The University of Louisville fell six spots to No. 11 in Tuesday’s newest edition of the of College Football Playoff rankings in the wake of the Cardinals’ blowout loss last week at Houston.

The Cards (9-2) had been frustrated with their rankings last week, when they were left out of the top four. This week, U of L is only the sixth-highest ranked two-loss team. The Cards’ CFP ranking is the same is their No. 11 spot in the USA TODAY Amway Coaches Poll and AP Top 25.

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I think it’s safe to say that an extremely motivated team is headed to Houston tomorrow.

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We’ve been talking a lot lately about Louisville quarterback and Heisman frontrunner Lamar Jackson, and for good reason. He’s provided a season’s worth of highlights in just two games, and he currently has his Cardinals squad (in awesome all-red chrome helmets) putting a beatdown on Florida State. But it’s his high school highlights that keep blowing our minds.

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