ESPN’s hugely popular College Gameday has been going to prospective schools to host its show since 1993. Ironically, the first place it visited was Notre Dame when the No. 2 Fighting Irish faced No. 1 Florida State. Louisville was one of only fourteen Power Five schools that have never hosted College Game until today and based on the result, it probably will not be the last.
Louisville fans were showing up at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium well before the sun was to rise and they were hyped up the entire day. The only drama of the day is whether former U of L head coach and FSU player, Lee Corso, would pick the Cardinals or the Seminoles to win. Corso said this was the toughest pick he has ever had to make on the show. He decided to go with his head and not his heart when he picked the Cardinals to win, much to the delight of a record crowd.
Scoring would come early and often just as it has in the first two games of the season. Lamar Jackson put the Cardinals up 7 – 0 with just over two minutes into the game with a two yard touchdown run. It would be much the same the rest of the afternoon.
Jackson continued his torrid pace running for four touchdowns and throwing for another. In three games Jackson has ran for 10 touchdowns and thrown for eight. The most amazing thing is that he has yet to play a full game.
The storyline to the early part of the season has been Jackson all day every day. However, the 63 – 20 win over the No. 2 Seminoles was perhaps the most complete win of Bobby Petrino’s second tenure as U of L’s head coach. Petrino discussed the complete game saying, “That was a good team win. Our defense did an unbelievable job of stopping the run, pressuring the quarterback, getting the ball back for the offense. Our special teams made some really big plays – Jaire Alexander – he got those runs, because we blocked. We challenged our – we call them our SWAT team – we challenged them this week to do a better job of getting Jaire started. Alphonso Carter had a couple of really big blocks on those plays and certainly had a big effect on the game. Offensively, I felt good. I felt like we were consistent. I felt like our offensive line did a good job of removing them from the line of scrimmage and everybody that had an opportunity made plays, so I’m just happy that it was a great team win.”
Jaire Alexander had a great game, particularly on special teams as he finally hit pay dirt with a 69 yard punt return for a score at the beginning of the second half to put the Cardinals up 42 – 10. He also had a 61 yard return later in the second half to set up another Cardinals’ score.
Defensively, U of L completely dominated all phases. They held the potent FSU offense to 284 yards of total offense. Dalvin Cook, U of L’s nemesis the past two seasons, was held to 54 yards on 16 carries. Freshman quarterback, Deondre Francois, looked and played like a freshman in his first true road game of his college career. Louisville’s defense pressured him the entire game. Francois finished 7 – 18 for 101 yards and one touchdown.
Brandon Radcliff continued running the ball hard, finishing with 118 yards on 14 carries. Jeremy Smith scored twice for the Cardinals. As a team Louisville rushed for seven touchdowns and 314 yards.
James Quick led U of L with seven receptions and 122 yards. It was Quick’s second straight 100 yard game.
Now Louisville must manage the lofty expectations and not suffer a letdown as they travel to Marshall next Saturday night in a game U of L should be heavily favored in. Marshall is even at 1 – 1 on the season, but suffered a 65 – 38 loss to Akron today.