Louisville Football has had many big games in the past. The ’06 West Virginia blackout game, the ’16 FSU dominance, Teddy’s Sugar Bowl dismantling of the No. 3 Florida Gators, and last year’s battle in Death Valley, immediately come to my mind. At the time, each of these games seemed to be the biggest game in the program’s history, and for good reason. However, none of those games will compare to the showdown we will see on Saturday.
The No. 14 Louisville Cardinals host the No. 3 Clemson Tigers with College Game day in attendance, the defending National Champs, and of course, the reigning Heisman winner. No game in the program’s history can compare to the magnitude that this game carries. Louisville joined the ACC’s elite conversation last season with their 63-20 shellacking of then No. 2 FSU, but the Cardinals have yet to get over the hump that is Clemson. Not that Louisville hasn’t had their chances though, losing on the road in their first matchup by 6 points despite not allowing a single offensive touchdown, then losing at home by 3 with two missed field goals, and of course, last season’s emotionally traumatizing loss by 6 points and a few yards. Their history may be shorter than most rivalries, but the drama and respectful hatred rival just about any others’ in the country.
Clemson may have won the National Championship last season, but that didn’t stop the greediness of their fan base. Lamar Jackson won the Heisman (over Deshaun Watson..by a lot), and Clemson fans still haven’t accepted that fact. When Louisville first matched up with Clemson a few years ago, Cardinal fans returned home talking about the hospitality of the Tiger fans (thanks for that time, but it doesn’t make up for the present). At the time, Clemson saw Louisville has an underdog ACC newcomer and definitely not as a threat. Last season, didn’t follow the same script. Louisville went to Death Valley as the higher ranked team, with the Heisman front runner, and more national acclaim due to their performance against FSU. Clemson fans didn’t appreciate that, and the differences between how they treated our fans 3 years ago vs last year were abundantly clear and still are to this day. I’m not saying that all Clemson fans are disrespectful, but the change in the dynamic proved how far Louisville’s program had come.
Anyways, back to the biggest game in Louisville Football history. Clemson enters this game as the No. 3 ranked team in the nation, defending National Champions and angry that Lamar took the Heisman from their precious Deshaun. Louisville enters the game ranked No. 14, after a disappointing end to last season, with the Heisman winner and the media still doubting Lamar’s abilities. That just sets the stage for the game, a win for Louisville and what that would mean is what makes this the biggest game in history.
A win for Louisville would silence the haters, put Louisville in a perfect position for an ACC crown, and jump the Cards right into the eventual playoff conversation. Lamar will be the undoubted Heisman favorite and the program will take the next step to becoming a National Powerhouse.
Louisville beating FSU last year was a great feeling, but a win over Clemson on Saturday, regardless of the margin of victory, will mean more to the fans, players, coaches and program than any victory ever had. Prime time, blackout, College Gameday, No. 3 vs No. 14, National Champs vs Heisman. The stage is set, the stakes are high, and I firmly believe the Cards will walk away from this one with the biggest victory in program history.