HOUSTON, TX, Sporting Alert – No. 5 Louisville enters into Thursday night’s clash with Houston hoping to produce something special to impress the College Football Playoff selection committee.
The Cardinals (9-1) were kept out of the latest CFP top four by Clemson because of their head-to-head match-up which was won earlier this year by the Tigers.
However, now that they are back on level terms and pretty much control their own destinies, Louisville is desperate to get back on the voters’ good side.
At the same time, Houston players sees this as very big game for them, with wide receiver Chance Allen saying ahead of clash: “This is our Super Bowl.”
Louisville Still Lively In CFP Race
By placing them fourth on Tuesday night, it is obvious the selection committee believes they are contenders for a College Football Playoff top four spot, but the Cardinals must continue to be effective to stay alive for a bid.
“Yeah, I think for our players, they just have to understand that they need to go out and play well, and play the type of football we are capable of playing,” Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino said.
“Really, that’s what we need to do our last two games, and then whatever happens, happens. We can’t control any of that.”
The clash will see two of this season’s college football top quarterbacks locking horns at the TDECU Stadium in Texas, as Heisman Trophy favourite Lamar Jackson will lead the Louisville offense and Greg Ward Jr. running the board for Houston (8-2).
Jackson, who has been on a canter this campaign, has been gathering the media attention all season, and rightfully so, but Ward Jr. has also impressed since hitting the ground running in the upset win over Oklahoma in September.
So far, Ward Jr. has passed for 2,608 yards with 16 touchdowns, while rushing for 429 yards and nine TDs on 144 carries.
Jackson, who according to several college football pundits and analysts, has already done enough to win the Heisman, and is on pace to reach the 3,000 yards passing mark after Thursday’s game.
The sophomore quarterback heads into the contest needing just 102 yards to reach the milestone, as he’s already thrown for 2,898 yards.
His impressive figures on the term also include 27 touchdown passes, while he’s rushed for 1,334 yards and 19 TDs.
ESPN Picking Cardinals To Win Big
ESPN’s Football Power Index is giving Jackson and Louisville more than an 85-percent chance to win against Houston, but the Cardinals must proceed with caution.
Last year the Cougars won this battle 34-31, while limiting Jackson and forced him into throwing two picks.
This year, though, Petrino is expecting a better something different
“We’re a much different team than we were last year,” Petrino said. “Right then we were trying to even find out who we are and what we were doing and everything was new to Lamar [Jackson] when he was out there.
“He made some really good plays in the game. He made some mistakes. Just understanding the difference between high school football and college football, so I don’t think last year’s game will play into this game at all.”
Ward Jr. Must Be Feared
Last week Louisville dominated Wake Forest 44-12 to prepare for this game, while Ward Jr. threw for two touchdowns and ran another to lead Houston to a comfortable 30-18 win Tulane on Saturday.
“He really has done a nice job running the football,” Petrino said about Ward Jr., who helped Houston outscore Louisville 17-14 in the fourth quarter a-year-ago
“He’s hard to tackle. He made some plays against us where it looked like we had him boxed in, and it looked like we had everybody covered, and he was still able to create room and run out and make conversions.
“His ability to run the ball was the way they won the game in the fourth quarter, so we’ve got to do a good job being disciplined like we were in the second half last week.”
The Cards are looking to go to 10-1 for the first time since 2013.
Thursday night’s clash will be the 17th in the series between these two teams, with both deadlocked 8-8.