The Louisville Cardinals may have entered their name into the discussion of potential college football championship contenders. On Saturday afternoon, the No. 10 team was able to upset No. 2 Florida State in a rout, 63-20. Quarterback Lamar Jackson was the driving force behind the victory, scoring an impressive five touchdowns against the FSU Seminoles in Louisville, Kentucky. Could this win give them momentum towards the National Championship?
The game recap reported by ESPN notes that Jackson tallied 362 yards of offense, throwing for one touchdown, and adding four of them with his own legs. The man who was called a potential secondary candidate in the Heisman chase this season certainly bolstered his resume with Saturday’s performance. His plays included a dazzling highlight run down the field with a spin move on a final defender before he entered the endzone for the score.
Jackson was a stats leader for sure today, but praise also goes to the Cardinals defense. They constantly put pressure on starting Seminole quarterback Deondre Francis, sacking him five times, causing a fumble and also intercepting a pass attempt. As Albany Herald reported, head coach Bobby Petrino said in post-game comments, it was “really a team win.”
In addition to praising his star quarterback, Petrino gave a nod to how his team played on all sides.
“Our defense did an unbelievable job pressuring the quarterback and getting the ball back for our offense, our special teams made a couple of big plays and we did a great job running the ball because our guys blocked downfield.
“Offensively, I felt good. I felt we were consistent. We removed them from the line of scrimmage.”
The game featured Florida State scoring just 10 points in each half, as they were never quite able to get their offense going. Francis had a 20-yard touchdown pass to Auden Tate in the second quarter. In the fourth quarter, Tate scored his second of the game, this time on a 12-yard pass from quarterback J.J Cosentino. However, it was too little, too late for a Seminoles team that had high expectations.
For further perspective, Jackson himself put up more yards than the entire FSU offense. The Seminoles finished with 113 yards passing and 171 on the ground. Jackson had more rushing yards than the top two backs combined for Florida State in today’s box score.
His performance even drew praise from a former ACC great. Michael Vick, who starred with the Virginia Tech Hokies, tweeted out a compliment which called Jackson better than he [Vick] was in his college days. Comparisons have quickly been drawn between Jackson and Vick based on the dual-threat nature of their offensive abilities. Another NFL player, Chicago Bears Kyle Long, also tweeted about Jackson, comparing him to sophomore NFL quarterback Marcus Mariota of the Tennessee Titans.
Lamar Jackson 5x better than what I was at V-Tech....Enough said!! #future— Mike Vick (@MikeVick) September 17, 2016
Player comparisons aside, today’s upset win carries plenty of excitement with it for Louisville and their fanbase. The highest the team has been ranked has been the No. 3 spot 10 years ago. More recently, the team achieved a No. 9 preseason ranking in the AP Poll ahead of their 2013 campaign. With a win over a team ranked as high as Florida State, it’s now possible that Louisville will get into the top five themselves. They’ll need to hold onto that position if they want their name in the college football playoff picture at the end of the current season.
As Fox Sports’ Aaron Torres mentions, the Cardinals still have some key games on their schedule, which could present challenges to them maintaining such a high ranking. Those include Clemson in two weeks, and then a matchup with Houston towards the end of the season. Ironically, the Cougars upset another powerhouse, Oklahoma, to jumpstart their season towards a possible playoff run. If the two can continue their success from the early part of the season, an entertaining college football collision could be on the way down the road.
For now, Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals will savor the win, as fans contemplate the possibilities that lie ahead.
[Featured Image by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images]