NCAA Football Week 4 Picks

My picks for the games coming up this weekend. I’ll be picking weeks going forward, and giving you my Games I’d Bet at the end. All selected winners are in bold, and all lines were accurate as of 1:00 PM on Thursday.

 

Games I’d Bet

 

Thursday 

Temple @ #21 USF -19.5

I like the work Charlie Strong has done already in Tampa, but as a head coach, generally Strong’s teams don’t blow out opponents. 19.5 points is a lot to give a not-terrible Temple team, especially on a Thursday night.

 

Saturday

Kent State @ #19 Louisville -44

I know Kent State is not good, at all. But the Louisville defense is ripe for the picking and the offense is still limited by a struggling offensive line. 44 points just seems too high, especially the potential for a letdown after a rough game against Clemson.

 

#17 Mississippi State @ #11 Georgia -5.5

This one is tough. I love Georgia this year, and they are playing well. But Mississippi State is on FIRE and I’m expecting that to carry over.

 

#20 Florida @ Kentucky +1.5

This line has been shrinking all week and I just have a gut feeling Kentucky manages to pull this one off, finally. Florida isn’t good, and I think Kentucky figured some things out last week against South Carolina.

 

#4 Penn State @ Iowa +13

Another team I love this season is Penn State, and I’m not sold on Iowa at all. Trace McSorley is starting to steal some Heisman shine from his backfield mate Saquon Barkley, and James Franklin is bringing some serious swagger to State College.

 

Best of the Rest

 

Friday

Virginia @ Boise State -12.5

#23 Utah @ Arizona +3.5

 

Saturday

Texas A&M  @Arkansas -2.5

UMass @ Tennessee -28

West Virginia @ Kansas +21.5

Texas Tech @ Houston -6

Army @ Tulane -2.5

UNLV @ #10 Ohio State -40.5

NC State @ #12 Florida State -13

Pittsburgh @ Georgia Tech -8.5

New Mexico @ Tulsa -11

Old Dominion @ #13 Virginia Tech -27.5

Idaho @ South Alabama -4

Ohio @ Eastern Michigan -2.5

Central Florida @ Maryland -3.5

LA Tech @ South Carolina -8

#1 Alabama @ Vanderbilt +18.5

#16 TCU @ #6 Oklahoma State -13

#5 USC @ California +17

Georgia Southern @ Indiana -24

Rutgers @ Nebraska -12.5

Boston College @ #2 Clemson -34

Duke @ North Carolina +2.5

Toledo @ #14 Miami (FL) -13.5

Wake Forest @ Appalachian State +5

Cincinnati @ Navy -11.5

Miami (OH) @ Central Michigan -1.5

#8 Michigan @ Purdue +10

UL Monroe @ Louisiana -6.5

Nevada @ #18 Washington State -28

Georgia State @ Charlotte +1

Akron @ Troy -15.5

#3 Oklahoma @ Baylor +27.5

UAB @ North Texas -13

Syracuse @ #25 LSU -21

FAU @ Buffalo -2

Ball State @ WKU -8

Arkansas State @ SMU -5.5

#22 San Diego State @ Air Force +3

#15 Auburn @ Missouri +18

FIU @ Rice -2

UTSA @ Texas State +12

Utah State @ San Jose State -1

Notre Dame @ Michigan State +4

UTEP @ New Mexico State -19

#24 Oregon @ Arizona State +14

#7 Washington @ Colorado +11.5

Hawai’i @ Wyoming -6

UCLA @ Stanford -7

 

Sunday 

East Carolina @ UConn -4.5

 

The 25 Most Impactful Games of the Last 15 Years of Louisville Football

I will openly admit that I saw a similar styled list about another sports team on Twitter and got the idea for the list from there. I thought it would be nice to look back at the (mostly) highs and lows of the last 15 years of Louisville football by looking at the most interesting and impactful games for the team. Obviously, these are in order of my opinion on how impactful they were, so feel free to chime in if you disagree! Also, Wake Forest inexplicably made the list twice. Twice. Without further ado…

Honorable Mention

1991 Fiesta Bowl vs. Alabama – W 34-7

This game wasn’t in the last 15 years, but without it, it’s arguable that the rest of the list doesn’t happen. Howard Schnellenberger turned the tide (unintentional pun) and started Louisville on its “collision course”. The game is the most impactful in the football teams history.

25. September 29th, 2012 – Louisville 21, Southern Miss 17

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I personally will never forget this game for the simple reason that I spent the entire game wondering when the officials were just going to call it. The rain started early and came down hard, and Southern Miss’ field was not able to handle the downpour. It was a ridiculous game that, other than the rain, didn’t have much other implications on the program.

24. November 27th, 2004 – Louisville 70, Cincinnati 7

cincinnati 04

For fans who don’t remember, this was the game when Louisville had enough of the bullshit. For years, teams would come into the stadium and stomp on the midfield cardinal bird logo. The team would always get pissed off and try to run the teams off, and inevitably play better. But this game was different. Cincinnati wasn’t supposed to challenge, let alone win the game. But they also weren’t supposed to lose by 63 points. It was a beatdown the likes of which I don’t recall seeing before or since really. It was a message sent to the rest of the country. Don’t disrespect the logo. One other team made the mistake, but that’s further down the list.

23. October 15th, 2005 – West Virginia 46, Louisville 44 – 3OT

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A shootout between the two teams that would bring the Big East the most prominence since Miami left, this was a great, exciting game and set up Rich Rodriquez and Bobby Petrino as two of the hottest coaches in the country. Just a great game on a big stage for both schools.

22. January 2nd, 2006 – Gator Bowl – Virginia Tech 35, Louisville 24

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MARCUS VICK STOMPED ON ELVIS DUMERVIL’S LEG!!!!!!! W. T. F!!!!!!!!!!!!

21. September 15th & 22nd, 2007 – Kentucky 40, Louisville 34 & Syracuse 38, Louisville 35

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First, the Kentucky game. Louisville became accustomed to beating Kentucky with Petrino at the helm. Enter Steve Kragthorpe. That shit went out the window FAST. Also, fucking Stevie Johnson.

But it wasn’t until the next week, against Syracuse, that the fan base became aware how much trouble they were in. Syracuse was awful that year. They finished 3-9 that season. one of those three were against Louisville, in Louisville. I remember the crowd booing Mario Urrutia as he caught a ball heading out of bounds and spiked the ball toward the defender, causing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and Kragthorpe to go ballistic on him on the sideline. I was a jarring defeat.

20. November 27th, 2009 – Rutgers 34, Louisville 14

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This game was impactful (or memorable) for two reasons. One, Doug Beaumont took a hit (seen above) that put him on a stretcher and Kragthorpe on the warpath out at midfield. Two, it was also Kragthorpe’s last game in Louisville. He was going to be fired at the end of the season almost no matter what, but it was a relief for the fan base when it finally happened.

19. October 1st, 2011 – Marshall 17, Louisville 13

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Ah yes, one of the biggest riffs in the fan base history. Will Stein vs. freshman Teddy Bridgewater. It’s actually really hilarious in hindsight that this was a discussion. This was  the game that really gave fans a glimpse into the future. Stein got hurt in the Kentucky game the week prior, and Teddy came in did a great job and led the team to its first win against Kentucky since Kragthorpe was hired. However, this game stands out to me because of the touchdown run (above) and because it signaled Teddy taking the reigns of the team. It worked out pretty well for them in the long run.

18. October 14th, 2004 – Miami 41, Louisville 38

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The Brian Brohm drive. Stephan Lefors got hurt in the fourth quarter, and Brohm led an 80-yd drive to give Louisville a 38-34 lead. Unfortunately, Miami came back and won the game, but it was definitely one of the most memorable games from Petrino’s first run as coach.

17. December 28th, 2013 – Russell Athletic Bowl – Louisville 36, Miami 9

September 1st, 2014 – Louisville 31, Miami 13

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Okay, a few things. I know I’m combining games again, from two seasons no less, but these games are wrapped all around each other. But first the individual games. The RAB gave us this amazing picture after a DeVante Parker touchdown. It was the university’s last football game in the AAC, and it was also Charlie Strong’s last game at Louisville.

miami 14.jpg

Now for the opener. Not only did Louisville play Miami in back-to-back games (how many times does that happen?) but it bookended the end of one era and the start of a new. Petrino is back, and he brought back the black uniforms to put the ACC on notice. The uniforms looked amazing, especially with Lorenzo Mauldin’s hair:

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All of this.

16. November 30th, 2015 – Music City Bowl – Louisville 27, Texas A&M 21

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Lamar Jackson set the rushing yard record for the Music City Bowl. Lamar Jackson, the QUARTERBACK of the team, set the rushing yard record for the Music City Bowl. Plus, the game was never as close as the score insinuates.

 

15. November 29th, 2012 – Louisville 20, Rutgers 17

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Banged up Teddy is the best Teddy. This game signaled to Louisville fans the GUMPtion (sorry) their quarterback had and sent Teddy into legend territory almost immediately.

14. December 5th, 2013 – Louisville 31, Cincinnati 24

teddy

The Teddy Cheer! He was the best.

13. November 12th, 2016 – Louisville 44, Wake Forest 12

heywake.0

This game gave us two things: this gem from Jaire Alexander shown above, and the beginning of the end for defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. Here is the WakeyLeaks sequence of events as I can see them: Grantham got ahold of the Wake Forest plays (or whatever was found) and didn’t tell Petrino. Petrino gets asked about it postgame and looks like an idiot in front of everyone because he wasn’t privy to the information. Petrino is (understandably) pissed and it causes a riff in the coaching staff. The team doesn’t win another game for the season, the defense looks lost and vulnerable after not looking bad, and Grantham is shown the door after the bowl game.

It would take actual evidence at this point to convince me otherwise.

12. September 3rd, 2006 – Louisville 59, Kentucky 28

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Michael Bush had 124 yards and 3 touchdowns in just over two quarters worth of work in this game before having his leg broken on a tackle. It ended Bush’s Louisville career and very possibly cost Louisville a shot at the national championship that season. It was one of the more heartbreaking moments for Louisville fans.

11. December 31st, 2004 – AutoZone Liberty Bowl – Louisville 44, Boise State 40

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One of the most fun bowl games I can remember, this was a huge matchup for both programs, as it lead to both getting huge jumps into the national conversation. Just a great game all around, and Boise State and Louisville fans left the game with a mutual respect for the teams and fan bases alike.

10. November 26th, 2016 – Kentucky 41, Louisville 38

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This game was really hard to watch for Louisville fans. Louisville had the superior team, the eventual Heisman winner, and a legacy of beating Kentucky with Bobby Petrino in the building. It all went up in flames, due mostly to the fact that the defense couldn’t contain Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson. Petrino gets his first loss to Kentucky and it signals a lot of trouble for the team.

9. November 2nd, 2006 – Louisville 44, West Virginia 34

west virginia 06

Louisville avenged the loss to a loaded West Virginia team the previous year, and launched themselves into the national title conversation. If I remember correctly, this was also the Black Out game where the lights in the stadium went out for a few seconds. It was an epic, fun game and one that Louisville fans still remember vividly.

8. September 16th, 2006 – Louisville 31, Miami 7

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The Hurricanes stomping on the bird and nearly inciting a riot pregame.

The Urrutia stiff arm.

The revenge for the loss two years prior.

Just a huge occasion, one the Cardinals rose up to.

7. September 5th, 2015 – Chik-Fil-A Kickoff Game – Auburn 31, Louisville 24

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A huge statement to be put into this game alone, Louisville came out like a team that hadn’t been there before, but recovered enough to make the game interesting. It wouldn’t be enough in the end, but the uniforms and Lamar Jackson getting the surprise first throw of the game (even if it was an interception) was a lot of fun and a good time in Atlanta.

6. October 1st, 2016 – Clemson 42, Louisville 36

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Another epic game culminating in a loss. It was a great game, back and forth, and Louisville just didn’t have enough in the end to knock off the eventual National Champion. Most fans still blame James Quick for the loss, but there are way too many factors in this game to knock only Quick. Also, fuck Ben Boulware forever.

5. November 9th, 2006 – Rutgers 28, Louisville 25

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Sorry, but you knew it was going to be on the list. Jeremy Ito. William Gay. No Michael Bush. easily the worst loss Louisville has ever experienced. A phenomenal game, but one that most Louisville fans would like to forget.

4. September 26th, 2002 – Louisville 26, Florida State 20 – OT

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I remember Anthony Floyd picking off Chris Rix in overtime. I remember the gap opening for Henry Miller and vaulting the wall to the field. I remember being the first person to touch the goalpost in the horseshoe end of the field before being swallowed by the adults. I remember almost being trampled to death by said adults. I remember Joshua Tinch running up and down the field screaming with joy. I remember the day I fell in love with the emotion in college football.

3. September 17th, 2016 – Louisville 63, Florida State 20

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Lamar Jackson made sure Louisville didn’t waste its first College Gameday experience. After Lee Corso donned the Cardinal Bird mascot head, the Cardinals took care of business on the field. The defense wouldn’t leave Deandre Francois alone and Lamar essentially was a one man wrecking crew on offense. There was no reason for Louisville to do what it did. But that’s what made it a great win for the Cardinal faithful.

2. January 2nd, 2007 – Orange Bowl – Louisville 24, Wake Forest 13

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The first BCS bowl is a pretty good consolation prize for missing out on the national championship. Getting the win was that much sweeter. Wake Forest got hot this season and it was a little outmatched skill wise in the game, but nothing can replace the feeling of getting that first BCS bowl.

1. January 2nd, 2013 – Sugar Bowl – Louisville 33, Florida 23

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This was the biggest game in the last 15 years to me, and it’s not even close. Not only was it a return to a BCS game, but you had the best quarterback in the history of the school, you had a legitimate opponent with real history and credibility (even if Will Muschamp was the coach) and it was an epic game as well. The interception return for a touchdown to start the game combined with the Jon Bostic hit on Teddy (above) got the fans riled up and it was a blast down to the wire. Plus, I’m not sure I can think of a better place to wait for a football game for a week than New Orleans the week of New Year’s.

So there you have it. Other suggestions on a similar subject or team? Did I get it egregiously wrong? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @sports_modern!

 

UofL Has Lost It’s Moral High Ground

I think it’s about time something was said, and it’s not an attack, although that’s how it will be perceived. The University of Louisville has lost it’s moral high ground in the scape of the NCAA. And to be honest, in hindsight, I’m not sure how much of one it ever had.

Growing up as a Louisville fan lead me to a certain feeling of privilege. From the days of John L. Smith and the tail end of Denny Crum’s tenure with the basketball team, we always had the “plucky underdog” feel. We never got the air time that it seemed like Kentucky did, and we developed things the “right way”. We were on a “collision course” and we were along for the ride.

Things didn’t start to feel strange until Bobby Petrino left in 2006. He left the university in the dead of night. I still remember being on our home computer and seeing the update on ESPN. I told my parents and they thought I was joking. Bring in Steve Kragthorpe, and all of a sudden we had “behavioral problems” in the locker room. I’m not going to defend Kragthorpe, because at the end of the day, a coaches job is to win. I will say, though, that maybe Petrino wasn’t bringing in the most high quality individuals to play for him.

Petrino went on to ungracefully leave from the Atlanta Falcons and have a fresh scandal in Arkansas involving a volleyball player and a motorcycle.

In 2009, we were all first introduced to Karen Sypher. I won’t go into it here, because honestly if you’re reading this, you know what happened. While it isn’t a basketball related issue, and I agree that it isn’t a fireable offense, it’s a terrible black mark on the university.

Then came Katina Powell. To say it bluntly, Pitino should have been fired. Adding in the Sypher issue years ago, this was an issue with recruits, in on-campus dorms and if he didn’t know, then he should have. It’s his responsibility as the head coach. The thing that truly bothered me about this though, is that once everything came out, there wasn’t at least a bigger uproar of people calling for his termination. The fan base, from my observation, was largely defending everyone except Powell and Andre McGee, the ringleader of the whole thing. I expect fans to be irrational about their teams, but I heard almost no fans calling for a firing. That’s embarrassing to me, and it also signaled something.

The standards of our higher education facilities have plummeted in favor for more money and exposure. To be clear, the NCAA is at fault as well. The entire idea of college athletics is such a cess pool of dirty, disgusting practices that I find it hard to pull for anyone involved outside of the student-athlete themselves.

These major examples aside, we haven’t even talked about James Ramsey, the university’s former president. He oversaw over 20 scandals, almost all financially related, between 2008 and 2016 when he resigned. This includes bribery, cover-ups and theft.

The whole reason for this stream of thoughts is at the beginning: the moral high ground. I didn’t get the sense that the Powell situation humbled anyone, which is concerning. The irony of mocking Kentucky for years about losing their championship banner due to some kind of violation by John Calipari, only to be at risk of losing Louisville’s own is not lost on me. The Powell situation was everyone else’s opportunity to knock Louisville, and it was met with backlash, like this fan base hasn’t been doing the knocking. It was hypocritical at best, ignorant at worst.

Again, I know this is going to lead to a lot of backlash against myself. Unfortunately, I know how fans are. I think, though, that it’s something every fan base, not just Louisville’s, needs to hear. Looking in the mirror every once in awhile isn’t such a bad thing.

What now?

Louisville got handed a sobering loss to cap off the disappointing end to their 2016 season with a 29-9 defeat to LSU in the Citrus Bowl. The end of the season has spawned a plethora of finger pointing and in some cases name calling, letting everyone know who the children are among the fans. And while there is blame to be shared, it is not just one persons fault. There are levels to everything, and right now, the football program is broken. Not irreparably, but broken nonetheless.

So where do we go from here, both as fans and as a program? I broke it into sections, and I’m no coach or athletic director, but I do think this is the most sensible and efficient way to approach 2017 in a much better standing.

Quarterbacks

Obviously you’re coming off a Heisman-winning season from Lamar, but he has a lot to work on. His accuracy, especially on the short and mid-range passes, as well as the fumbles must improve. Additionally, Bobby needs to let Lamar be Lamar. He was always most competent when Bobby let him run more of the read option and take off when he wants, instead of trying to force him to be a pocket passer. I understand trying to develop him for the pros, I’m just talking in terms of a successful season for the University of Louisville. Secondly, Jawon Pass or Malik Cunningham, whoever wins the backup job, needs to develop and get some time early in the season. Lamar had an incredible run of health this year given how many times he was hit, and depth behind him will be crucial from the young players. I also believe Kyle Bolin may transfer. I don’t see the point in making him the backup with Pass and Cunningham coming in, so it depends on how much he wants to play.

Running Backs

There is a big step down here. Brandon Radcliffe, Malin Jones, and fullback Lamar Atkins all graduate, with LJ Scott transferring. That leaves Jeremy Smith, a lot of unproven talent, and incoming freshman Colin Wilson (4*). That leaves a lot to be desired, especially assuming the offensive line does not drastically improve. I’d like to see more straight runs from the backfield, but outside of that, it’s largely the Lamar show in the backfield for next season anyway.

Pass Catchers

Overall, the quantity of losses here isn’t that high, but the loss in quality is huge. Cole Hikutini, Keith Towbridge, Jamari Staples and James Quick are all huge contributors on the offense right now and will be tough to replace. Look for Traveon Samuel, Seth Dawkins, Jaylen Smith and Dez Fitzpatrick to more than fill the gaps at wide receiver. Charles Standberry and Micky Crum are the frontrunners to fill in at tight end. Overall, I’m not too worried about the talent here, but I am really high on Micky Crum for next season.

Offensive Line

Oh boy. So they lose Tobijah Hughley and Khalil Hunter, and possibly Lukayus McNeil. McNeil made mention before the season that he would see where he was as a prospect after the season. His brother is his dependent so he wants to jump to the league as quickly as possible, however based on his performance this season, I don’t think he will be a high prospect in the NFL. So assuming they bring McNeil back, that leaves Kiola Mahoni and Geron Christian as the remaining returning starters. Overall, I felt like Christian had a decent year, certainly better than any of his line mates, and he is still young. I’d like to see Ronald Rudd (JUCO), Cole Bentley (3*) and Robbie Bell (redshirt Fr) push for starting positions on the line. I do think, depending on how those three develop, that the offensive line will be largely improved next season.

Defensive Line

The only senior of note is DeAngelo Brown, which is a huge, and I mean HUGE loss for us up front, especially in Grantham’s defensive scheme. They also stand to lose James Hearns if he chooses to go to the NFL. Those would be two huge loses, but they are fairly deep on the defensive line. Kyle Shortridge and GG Robinson are both talented enough to take over for Brown, even with it being a drop off. On the ends, Drew Bailey, Chris Williams and De’Asian Richardson all played well this season and should stabilize the outside should Hearns jump.

Linebackers

I had very little complaints about our linebackers this season. Keith Kelsey was a rock in the middle, with Devonte Fields, Stacey Thomas and Jonathan Greenard all performing well around him. Unfortunately, there’s a very real possibility that they lose Thomas in addition to the graduating Fields and Kelsey. If that is so, Greenard, along with up-and-comer Amonte Caban, transfer Gary McCrae and a returning Trevon Young could be the top names to fill those big shoes.

Defensive Backs

This is probably the group I’m least excited for next season. They definitely lose Josh Harvey-Clemons, and Shaq Wiggins and Chucky Williams aren’t locks to come back. We saw how the defense looked in the bowl game without some of these guys, and that’s what gives me pause for next season. They would obviously have all offseason to work with the guys, but the coaching staff should be looking to define the starters as quickly as possible. Lucky for them, incoming stud CJ Avery (4*) will be on campus in about a week, and players like Jaire Alexander, Zykiesis Cannon, Khane Pass and Dee Smith all were generally strong performers this season. It will be interesting to see who comes out of this group come September.

Special Teams

Mason King and Blanton Creque were, in my opinion, really strong performers this year. King might be the best punter to come through the program since Wade Tydlacka and Creque was very solid once given the starting job. Not worried about this area for next year.

Ultimately, I think that next season is obviously predicated on better coaching. The offense sputtered every time they got into the red zone and I think there are some minor play calling issues to correct. Bobby of old is dead and gone, and isn’t coming back. The ballsy 4th down calls and opportunities to step on the opponents throat are gone as well. So the offense has to become crisp, efficient and exact. On defense, Grantham has done a phenomenal job given the amount of bad situations the offense put them in this season. He, however, needs to be more cognizant of his talent. I know his defensive scheme involves blitzing early and often, but when 3/4 of your secondary is replacements, you can’t be that aggressive. A few minor tweaks here should do the trick.

And lastly, the fan base has to evolve. The constant whining and panicking every time something goes wrong has to stop. Louisville is on the cusp of consistent elite status, both in basketball and football. Not there yet, but knocking on the door. So it’s time the fans act like it. When Stephen Johnson drops a bomb to start the game and the entire stadium panics, the players sense that. It sounds dumb, but evolving as fans to expect greatness while not overreacting to a slight step back is a crucial part of this process. Louisville could be in its third straight national title game, but if Malik Cunningham throws a pick six to start the game, and the entire fan base loses its mind, that’s a recipe for disaster.

So be proud of what was accomplished this season. The first Heisman trophy in school history, the first College Gameday in school history and being ranked in the top 5 are no small accomplishments. But continue to aim higher and 2017 can be the Year of the Cardinal Pt. Deux.

Lamar and the Other Guys

Photo: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The Heisman Trophy will be presented to the nations “most outstanding player” on Saturday night. For many Louisville fans, this is the last chance to capture something remarkable on what looked to be a special season before losing the final two games of the season. Lamar Jackson has been the Heisman frontrunner essentially since the beginning, but the last two games have let the field gain some traction.

To get it out of the way early, I do believe Jackson will run away with the trophy, and I believe he is the most deserving of it. My rank of the finalists is as follows:

  1. Lamar Jackson, Louisville
  2. Deshaun Watson, Clemson
  3. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
  4. Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma
  5. Jabrill Peppers, Michigan

The historical numbers certainly favor Jackson. Teammates inevitably hurt each other for the most part, due to the fact that the votes tend to get split between them. That being said, there has been one defensive player to  win the award (Charles Woodson, DB) which still puts Mayfield and Westbrook over Peppers. There is also a quarterback bias in recent years. In total, 44 of the Heisman winners have been halfbacks/runnning backs, and 33 have been quarterbacks. However, since 1990, there have been 6 running backs selected and 17 quarterbacks selected. All of this favors both Lamar and Watson, who most believe are the two front runners.

So when we rule out the three farthest from contention, we’re left with the two ACC quarterbacks. Watson was a finalist last season, finishing third behind Christian McCaffrey and Derrick Henry, who won the award. Here’s how the two quarterbacks stats match up:

  • Watson: Passing- 3914 yards, 37 TD, 15 INT ..Rushing- 524 yards, 6 TD
  • Jackson: Passing- 3390 yards, 30 TD, 9 INT ..Rushing- 1538 yards, 21 TD

Jackson has almost 500 more yards of total offense and 8 more touchdowns than Watson does. That’s a huge difference when you consider Jackson also played one less game.

The two biggest knocks on Jackson is the teams record (9-3 with a loss in Death Valley to Clemson) and his turnovers down the stretch of the season. In the loss to Kentucky, Jackson had 3 interceptions and also had the game-ending fumble to seal the win for the Wildcats. However, in their head-to-head matchup this season, Jackson went toe to toe Watson. Jackson finished with 457 yards of offense and three touchdowns with only one interception. Watson finished with 397 yards and five touchdowns with three interceptions.

What Would This Mean for the University of Louisville?

Lamar is the schools first player to be invited to New York as part of the ceremony. Of the 81 Heisman winners, only 36 current FBS schools have a Heisman winner in their history. That means only 28% of the 128 schools have winners. That’s a huge deal and would be program changing. Louisville built a statue for Johnny Unitas in the stadium. I can’t imagine what they will do for Lamar if he wins.

We all know the “first player to…” numbers Lamar has put up this season, so I won’t rehash them here. But there is something to be said for a player, who after 81 seasons of Heisman trophy presentations, is still doing things no one has ever seen. I remember in 2007 when Tim Tebow won the Heisman and everyone made a HUGE deal about the fact that he finished with 30+ passing touchdowns and 20+ rushing touchdowns, and Lamar has done that this season. In my mind, there is Lamar and the other guys. Hopefully of Saturday night, the voters will agree.

Kentucky 41, Louisville 38 Game Notes

Fuck that whole bunch from Lexington. Let’s get it!

  • Brandon Radcliff proposal. Dawww.
  • I still get goosebumps when they play the Ali intro. Seriously the best work our media team has done in my memory.
  • Kentucky has film on Jaylen Smith right? Can’t believe they let the huge pass over the middle to start the game.
  • And Lamar with the run in. That drive was very systematic. It’s going to be a long game for the Kentucky defense.
  • Wow. Huge blown play over top for Kentuckys first score. I mean a complete breakdown in communication and awareness by the secondary. Awful start for the defense.
  • Lamar’s accuracy has to get better. The overthrowing wide open receivers has to stop. It’s arguably his biggest weakness.
  • Also, fumbles when he runs. Even when they’re overturned.
  • Offense starting to look bad. I don’t understand running the ball two plays in a row and I don’t understand the timing on some of the runs. Second and long with this offense isn’t the time to hand it off to Radcliff.
  • The defense is looking like they also haven’t seen tape of the Kentucky offense. Some terrible breaks to let up first downs.
  • Bennie Snell is going to be a pain in our ass for years, ladies and gentlemen. Get used to him, unfortunately.
  • And Boom is Booming. 14-7 Kentucky.
  • I’ve noticed that Lamar has started dropping WAY back when he has to pass. He knows he doesn’t have an offensive line in front of him. And it’s affecting his play. 
  • Nice strike to Bonnafon gets the game tied up. Hopefully it continues.
  • Defense finally gets a nice, momentum stop and the offense gets a huge boost from the kick catch interference on the punt. Things starting to fall into place for Louisville.
  • Soft Bobby making an appearance again. We get stopped on the 1 and kick a field goal. Firstly, terrible play calling yet again in the red zone. And then we kick the field goal. Should have gone for it. Coaching scared is what lost us the Houston game. 
  • James Quick is having himself a game so far. Looking really solid.
  • I love the shovel pass to Hikutini for the touchdown. I just love shovel passes. A shovel pass in this offense is particularly devastating because Lamar commands so much attention on the ground. They aren’t looking underneath for an option until it’s too late.
  • Chucky Williams getting burned again. Awful over top coverage by the defense. Just awful.
  • 24-21 at half. Not what I was expecting at all.
  • Ok, I love Mario Benevides, and maybe it’s because they have only a few minutes, but his analysis at halftime is totally useless. I do believe it’s the time constraints though. Mario is a smart guy and a smart player, he has more insights than he shares during the halftime.
  • Jaire with the breakup over the top to start the second half off. Bobby may have made the right adjustments there.
  • Fields is visibly frustrated by Johnson’s elusiveness. He’s been a pain in the ass for sure. I wish it were Drew Barker.
  • Run right up the middle by Snell on third and one should not have been a touchdown. You know they’re running it and he essentially went untouched. Defense looking like a real liability right now. Can’t stop the run or the pass.
  • Lamar rips off the huge read option run and makes sure the offense is rolling, despite the defense.
  • Every. Single. Third. Down. They get conversions.
  • All tied. 31-31. 
  • Lamar with a pick on the first play sets us up for a bad stretch heading into the fourth quarter.
  • Ronald Walker was completely oblivious to the ball and let up a huge touchdown to start the fourth. It was by far the least aware I’ve seen a defender in any game this year.
  • Interception of Hikutini’s hands might be a dagger. Defense doesn’t seem to be able to stop them and we might not have it to come back from 2 scores down.
  • D’Asian Richardson had a HUGE stop at the point of the handoff, but it was completely negated by the huge Kemp play right after it. You could hear a pin drop in the stadium before Richardson’s play, and the crowd was loud immediately after.
  • I love the Heisman pose after Lamar runs it in. Makes a statement in my opinion. 
  • Huge takeaway by Chris Williams to flip the momentum. Brilliant continuation of the play to force the turnover.
  • Started the season with #LamarLeap, might end it with #LamarLeak. The fumbles….
  • Well. That was something.

The sideline never seemed to be inflated. It showed in the way we played and the way we handled the adversity. Oh well. 

Offensive MVP was easily Cole Hikutini. Had 7 catches for 100 yards and a touchdown. 

Defensive MVP for me was D’Asian Richardson. No stats that I could find on him, but he seemed to be the only defensive linemen able to get in the backfield and make plays.

On to the bowl game, wherever that may be.

Houston 36, Louisville 10 Game Notes

I have become increasingly nervous about this game. I woke up in a Jeremy Ito-induced sweat last night. Rutgers, you have not been forgotten. I’m glad you hate the B1G so far. Ugh. Let’s go!

  • Houston uni’s = flameeeeeeeessssssss
  • Speaking of, wish we had gone all-white or all-white with chrome. Alas.
  • Florida State also deferred Houston.
  • Malik Williams. Smh.
  • Hey, Wake lead for 3 quarters right?
  • Loud crowds bother us. All year they have.
  • Gonna have to roll Lamar a lot. They will be forcing him to throw.
  • The punting has been incredible for the most part this year. Amazing turn of events.
  • Defense gets settled in and forces Houston to punt. Time for the offense to settle down.
  • If I see another false start, I’m going to lose my shit. It’s not rocket science guys!
  • Defense once again makes a stop. MVP’s.
  • Jaylen Smith is one of the most gifted receivers to play here. He’s only a true sophomore!
  • Second fumble of the game. I mean…I just don’t even know.
  • Defense holds again. 10-0 Houston. Could be much, much, much, much, much worse.
  • I hate penalties.
  • #FuckinHughley
  • Well, the best thing I can say about the first quarter is that it’s over. Moving on.
  • Mason King is my favorite Louisville punter ever.
  • And we’ve moved to the “pick on Washington” portion of Houston’s offense.
  • Fucking trick play…
  • 17-0. This may not be our night.
  • Ed Oliver will be playing on Sunday’s. Just saying. None of our linemen will be. Zero.
  • The game plan for containing Ward has been fantastic. It’s the rest of the players that we aren’t stopping.
  • 24-0. About as bad as this could be going.
  • This is a truly young team. Lead by mostly 19 year old sophomores. Look at the poise on the defense compared to the offense. Mostly lead by seniors.
  • And as I say that the defense gets burned on another trick play. 31-0.
  • Ok, let’s unpack this first half. The Playoffs are gone. The Heisman has slipped a bit. The offensive line is hot, hot garbage. Lamar is doing what he can, but he essentially has one other player on offense (Jaylen Smith). The defense has done what it can, but just like the rest of the season, turnovers and the offense have kept them on their heels. They’re tired and Trumaine Washington needs to go back to Florida. I don’t think I’ll be updating in the second half, unless something major happens.

Well that was something. I know it’s been said a million times at this point, but that was one of the worst offensive line performances I’ve ever seen. Any level. Anyway, I can’t continue to beat what everyone has been saying into the ground. Have to get better.

Kentucky, you’re still next.