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Thursday Afternoon Cardinal News and Notes

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U of L freshmen Elijah Bauer, Garrett Price and Isaiah Anderson are letting Houston know what's up from the top of Mount St. Helens.

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I_medium Spread check: Louisville by 13.5.

I_medium U of L basketball has finalized contract extensions with both Mike Balado and David Padgett.

I_medium Louisville holds at No. 4 in the new ACC Digital Network power poll.

I_medium The two biggest takeaways from Bobby Petrino's weekly stint on the ACC coaches' teleconference (in my mind at least) were the news that Jamari Staples could potentially play on Saturday, and that Will Gardner is back practicing as well after a rib injury kept him from being an option against Auburn.

**Petrino said the availability wide receiver Jamari Staples, who missed the Auburn game with a knee injury, is still uncertain for Saturday's game against Houston, saying it's possible he'll be able to practice on Thursday. Petrino said the status of receiver James Quick (severe ankle sprain) is the same as from the update he gave on Monday, when he said he was doubtful to play against Houston.

...

**Petrino said on Wednesday that it's hard to speculate if he would he used Gardner against Auburn even if he'd been healthy because he missed too much practice time to know where he stood. Gardner practiced Tuesday and did well throwing the ball.

I_medium Sports Illustrated's college football writers look at which week one loser they think is most primed to bounce back, and none of them mention Louisville.

I_medium This is so great.

I_medium U of L's odds have gone from 200-1 to 500-1 after losing to Auburn.

Here's the full list:

Odds to win the 2015-2016 College Football FBS Championship (Teams in red have longer odds, teams in blue have shorter odds, and teams in black stayed the same)

Odds on 9/2/15             Current Odds

Ohio State                                5/2                                7/4

Alabama                                   7/1                                8/1

TCU                                          7/1                                8/1

Auburn                                      14/1                              14/1

Baylor                                       12/1                              14/1

Notre Dame                              12/1                              14/1

Michigan State                          16/1                              18/1

Georgia                                    20/1                              20/1

LSU                                         25/1                              20/1

USC                                        20/1                              20/1

Clemson                                   25/1                              25/1

Oregon                                     22/1                              25/1

Florida State                             25/1                              28/1

Oklahoma                                 33/1                              33/1

Texas A&M                               50/1                              33/1

UCLA                                        40/1                              33/1

Mississippi                               50/1                              40/1

Arkansas                                  50/1                              50/1

Boise State                               100/1                            66/1

Georgia Tech                            100/1                            66/1

Tennessee                                66/1                              66/1

Florida                                      100/1                            100/1

Mississippi State                       100/1                            100/1

Oklahoma State                        100/1                            100/1

Stanford                                   40/1                              100/1

Arizona State                            100/1                            150/1

Michigan                                   66/1                              150/1

Arizona                                     200/1                            200/1

Kansas State                            200/1                            200/1

Miami                                       200/1                            200/1

Missouri                                    200/1                            200/1

Northwestern                             500/1                            200/1

South Carolina                          300/1                            200/1

Utah                                         300/1                            200/1

Wisconsin                                 100/1                            200/1

West Virginia                             300/1                            300/1

Boston College                         500/1                            500/1

BYU                                        500/1                            500/1

California                                  500/1                            500/1

Cincinnati                                  500/1                            500/1

Duke                                        500/1                            500/1

Iowa                                         500/1                            500/1

Louisville                                  200/1                            500/1

Marshall                                    500/1                            500/1

Maryland                                   500/1                            500/1

Nebraska                                  100/1                            500/1

Oregon State                            500/1                            500/1

Penn State                                200/1                            500/1

Pittsburgh                                 500/1                            500/1

Rutgers                                     500/1                            500/1

South Florida                            500/1                            500/1

Texas                                       100/1                            500/1

Texas Tech                               500/1                            500/1

Virginia Tech                             100/1                            500/1

UCF                                          500/1                            1000/1

Minnesota                                 500/1                            1000/1

North Carolina                           500/1                            1000/1

Washington                               500/1                            1000/1

I_medium Louisville and Houston do have a history, but until now, being members of the same conference has always been a part of their series.

I_medium U of L running back commit Malik Staples is reportedly pondering a commitment switch after visiting Oregon State.

I_medium Teddy Bridgewater is listed as Pro Football Focus' No. 1 breakout player for the 2015 NFL season.

1. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Vikings (79.1)

Most observers are aware that the Vikings' young signal-caller really improved at the end of last season, but just how much he improved really stands out. Over the final five weeks of the season, no quarterback had a higher overall grade than Bridgewater (+11.0), not even the league's MVP Aaron Rodgers (+10.2). Heading into his second season, expectations are high that he can continue to improve, and if he can perform like he did to end his rookie season, he'll have the Vikings contending for a playoff spot come December.

PFF says Teddy completed 100 percent of his passes under pressure during the preseason, which a statistics insider tells me is good.

I_medium Louisville racked up a whopping 91 yards on just nine power read plays, which is something you're certainly going to see more of with Lamar Jackson under center.

I_medium Todd Grantham is ready for a new challenge against Houston this weekend.

I_medium Campus Insiders likes the Cards by two touchdowns this weekend.

What's Going To Happen?

Houston has significant potential now that it's hired the right coach. However, it lacks the overall talent of a Louisville, which has the defensive personnel to stop the Cougars in their tracks. Plus, an evolving Cardinal O-line will get a break against an average Houston front, helping create space for Jackson and backs Brandon Radcliff and L.J. Scott.

Louisville vs. Houston Score Prediction

And the Louisville vs. Houston prediction is ...

Prediction: Louisville 34, Houston 20

I_medium This read from Houston coach Tom Herman about his philosophy is extremely interesting.

I_medium Myron Medcalf calls former U of L assistant Wyking Jones one of the most interesting people in college basketball.

When Jones is not training the Golden Bears, he might make time to swat more shots and challenge innocent onlookers in another McDonald's commercial.

"Next! You with the Snack Wrap. You want some?" That's how Jones ends the scene in the 2007 fast-food advertisement.

Awesome.

I_medium Athlon has the Louisville women at No. 8 in its preseason magazine.

I_medium Speaking of the women's basketball team, Jeff Walz's recruiting tear continued on Wednesday with a commitment from 5-star recruit Jazmine Jones out of Ohio. Hours later, Walz got another commitment from Bionca Dunham.

I_medium If you enjoy Fan Duel, this is your moment.

I_medium SB Nation's Grizzlies website says Russ Smith could be Memphis' breakout player in 2015-16.

I_medium SI lays out 64 reasons why you should be looking forward to the 2015-16 college hoops season.

I_medium It's a hoops season that will, uncharacteristically, be loaded with senior stars.

I_medium It was a matter of when, not if, this was coming.

I_medium After suffering a neck injury, Clemson star wide receiver Mike Williams will not play against Louisville next Thursday.

I_medium Where does Lamar Jackson stand on the Meek Mill/Drake beef? Finally, we have an answer.

I_medium Our friends over at Strait Pinkie have just come out with this new pretty bad ass DeVante Parker shirt.

I_medium The U of L men's soccer team opens ACC play tomorrow night against Syracuse.

I_medium ESPN's David Hale says Lamar Jackson's superior pocket presence makes him the obvious choice at quarterback.

While Reggie Bonnafon moved the ball well on his first few drives, costly mistakes proved his undoing. He took sacks on three of his 16 dropbacks and fumbled a handoff that Auburn returned for a touchdown.

"A couple sacks Reggie took, he could've thrown the ball away," Petrino said. "Guys were covered, and he held the ball too long."

That's been a common refrain for Bonnafon, who has a sack rate of 15.8 percent since the start of last season — nearly triple the Power 5 average.

Jackson, on the other hand, showed a proficiency for staying in the pocket when he had to, but running when the option presented itself.

"He had great instincts within the pocket, would sit in there and throw it but when he saw holes, he'd take off and run," Petrino said. "He has great instincts as a quarterback."

It's not to say that the QB situation can't change again. Bonnafon still appeared to be the more refined passer and last year's starter, Will Gardner, returned to practice this week after dealing with a rib injury, meaning he could be in the mix for snaps, too. But Petrino said he sees Jackson as his starter for the foreseeable future, and his athleticism and instincts are a big reason why.

I_medium The Cardinal field hockey team will be hosting a pair of top 20 opponents this weekend.

I_medium And finally, on today's Ramsey & Rutherford we'll be talking about your noon tailgating traditions, Deion Branch will stop by, and we'll keep previewing Houston. Check it out on ESPNLouisville.com.