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What We Learned in Week 2: Clemson is Back, Louisville is Elite

While some picked the Cardinals to get their first win over FSU since joining the conference, nobody thought it would go quite like that.

NCAA Football: Florida State at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Jackson proved the doubters wrong by leading a 63-20 dismantling of the Florida State Seminoles. He passed for 216 yards and a TD and ran for 146 with four more TDs. He was absolutely electric on the read option. See for yourself below:

He now has 8 passing TDs and 6 passing TDs on the season. Leornard Fournette, Deshaun Watson, and Dalvin Cook haven’t put up big numbers early in the year and as a result Lamar Jackson has grabbed the mantle as the early Heisman front-runner along with Christian McCaffrey of Stanford.

Florida State’s defense was obviously abhorrent given the Cardinals put up 63 points, but their offense was pretty poor as well and they were poor in a manner which may be repeated against other aggressive teams with strong front-sevens (cough... Clemson). Here’s how Tomahawk Nation explained it:

We’ll see how much they improve as Francois gets more game experience at QB, their offensive line gels, and safety Derwin James returns from injury. They’re not this bad, but they may not be as scary as many initially believed.

While it was nice to see Louisville have their breakthrough moment this week (what a deserving fan base), they look like an awfully tough opponent heading to Death Valley, SC in two weeks. I believe the Cardinals deserve to be #3 in the nation and should at least jump into the top 5.

Fortunately the Tigers get a few extra days to prepare as they’ll be playing at Georgia Tech on Thursday. The Yellow Jackets picked up a strong 37-7 home win over Vanderbilt. The Commodores have a solid defense, but the Yellow Jackets seem to have found their stride on offense as they posted 289 rushing yards after looking sluggish against Boston College and Mercer. Beating GT in Atlanta for the first time since 2003 won’t be a cake walk, but the talent gap is pretty large. It should happen if Clemson is focused.

As for Clemson, this weekend went exactly as planned. Many of us were on the verge of panic, but Coach Swinney’s group absolved our worries. It went so well that the second half was shortened (12-min quarters) by the coaches’ mutual agreement.

Watson looked extremely sharp on 12/15 passing with 3 TDs. Deon Cain had a drop, but also had a spectacular TD. Ray-Ray McCloud had two receiving TDs in his first start since Hunter Renfrow broke his hand. McCloud also had three slippery punt returns (56 yards) and seems to be the answer for Clemson there. Diondre Overton caught his first TD and the receivers as a whole really bounced back after a horrible performance against Troy.

Nick Schuessler was the first QB off the bench for the Tigers and threw that 45-yard TD to Overton. He was 7-11 passing and seemed to make good decisions and sharp passes. Kelly Bryant also got some snaps and was 4-5 passing, but was still given mostly roll-outs and run plays. He had 7 carries including one that he broke off for 27 yards. There are definitely some ACC teams on the schedule we can beat with this duo if we had to.

SC State is very bad, even by FCS standards. After the ridiculous play where the Bulldog return man forgot to kneel in the end zone and inadvertently tossed the ball for a Tiger player to jump on in the end zone, they probably gave up. That said, the Tigers executed and looked like an elite team again.

This was a good week for the Big 10 East. Ohio State looked elite, Michigan State handed Notre Dame their second loss of the season, and Michigan avoided upset against Colorado. In the much weaker Big 10 West, Wisconsin narrowly avoided losing to GA State and Iowa lost to FCS ND State.

All in all, a great weekend of college football. Be sure to check the site a bit extra this week as our coverage will be condensed heading into our Thursday night ESPN game at Georgia Tech.