During an interview with ESPN in July, Louisville Head Coach Bobby Petrino said that Louisville’s goal is to win a championship, and that this team believes it can do it. Most critics didn’t agree, partially because Louisville hasn’t had that one win against a nationally ranked team that makes a statement. But that all changed on Saturday.
That game wasn’t just a statement, it was a book. For starters, this game was supposed to be a close game, it ended up being 63-20 Louisville. NFL Scouts were there to watch Dalvin Cook as a potential draft pick, He was held to 54 yards on 16 attempts. Florida State was supposed to walk out of Louisville with a quality road win and solidify its position as the ACC front-runner and BCS Playoff team; Louisville embarrassed them and caught the nation’s complete attention.
And rightly so. For starters, the Cardinals did to Florida State exactly what it did against Charlotte and Syracuse: score over 60 and make sure it isn’t a close game. This game against Florida State had exactly the opposite feel as games in previous years, in that Jimbo Fisher could not figure out a way to gain traction against a Louisville team firing on all cylinders.
Of course, the player that stood taller than all others was Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. He made it to where it was almost impossible to defend against him, and he kept the defense guessing on every single drive. He ultimately finished the game with five touchdowns, four rushing and one passing, and 362 total yards. This performance solidified him as the Heisman front-runner, and as the face of College Football.
On the other side of the ball, Louisville kept the pressure on Deondre Francois, as he was sacked five times, and couldn’t do much against the front seven of Louisville. As for the Heisman candidate for Florida State, Dalvin Cook was also contained extremely well, again with only 54 yards rushing.
Louisville’s offense, on the other hand, couldn’t be contained at all, as the Cards exploded for 521 total yards and nine touchdowns, the most that Florida State had allowed in program history.
But this game was more than just a regular-season game. It was the win that Louisville needed to solidify itself as a serious competitor, and the one that saw the Cards jump up to no. 3 in the AP poll. But it brings up the question: Where will this team finish?
With only three games into 2016, it’s way too early to tell, but it’s pretty safe to bet that Louisville will get into a New Year’s Six Bowl game at the very least. According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, Louisville is the top team in the country, with a 57.7 percent chance of winning the ACC, and a 26.3 percent chance of winning out.
The next big ACC match-up comes in week five, against Clemson. FPI gives the Cards a 55.3 percent chance of winning, which had increased since last week. The national championship odds have also increased since the beginning of the season, going up to 5-1 from 60-1 in August. Bobby Petrino said that this team could win a championship for Louisville, and the Florida State Game just made the critics start to believe.