Louisville rarely has faced a must-win situation like the one looming against No. 11 Clemson: Avoiding an 0-3 start for the first time since 1984.

Throw in the matchup with the Tigers in the nationally televised Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams in Louisville, and the Cardinals are especially motivated.

Louisville needs a fast start to avoid having to play catch-up as the Cardinals did in their first two losses, against Auburn in the season opener and last week against Houston.

Coach Bobby Petrino has urged the Cardinals to look ahead instead of back on those frustrating losses.

"I thought they did a real nice job of understanding that we need to put it behind us," Petrino said earlier this week. "We've had two good practices, so I'm excited about that."

Now they just need to convert that enthusiasm into execution.

Offensively, mobile freshman quarterback Lamar Jackson had a promising beginning to his first start. But he eventually gave way to sophomore Kyle Bolin, who directed two fourth-quarter touchdown drives but couldn't complete the rally against the Cougars.

Petrino hasn't named a starter against the Tigers, but Louisville also could use better run production after gaining only 70 yards against Houston.

The Cardinals defense also seeks redemption after yielding 462 yards to the Cougars. Bouncing back certainly won't be easy in a short week against a Clemson squad that has outscored its first two opponents by a combined 90-20 margin.

"We've got a lot of work to do," said Petrino, whose team aims to avenge last year's 23-17 road loss at Clemson in which a rally fell short after reaching the Tigers' 1.

"We're playing a real good team in Clemson; their defense doesn't look like they missed a beat," Petrino said.


•Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. confirmed that he has a broken finger and says it's a game-time decision whether he'll start Saturday against Georgia State.

•Florida coach Jim McElwain said he hasn't settled on a starter — either sophomore Treon Harris or redshirt freshman Will Grier — for Saturday's game at Kentucky.

•Tennessee coach Butch Jones says defensive end/linebacker Curt Maggitt, the team's sack leader last season, remains several weeks away from returning to action because of a chipped hip bone.

•Alabama-Birmingham coach Bill Clark will make at least $605,000 annually under a new five-year deal. UAB temporarily shut down the football program after Clark's first season, reinstating it six months later. The Blazers will field a team again in 2017.