It probably didn't feel satisfying to fans or coaches looking on, but Louisville did enough to improve to 5-1 with a 24-14 win over Duke in Friday night ACC action. In a game the Louisville athletic department made a blackout, Louisville often looked checked out against a Duke team determined to make the game a slow and short as possible. Combined with rain and a slew of Louisville mistakes and the game was far closer than most had predicted.
Mistakes and turnovers once again kept a Louisville opponent in the game. Louisville had a 90 yard punt return for a touchdown by Jaire Alexander erased by a (questionable) penalty. With the ball inside the Duke 10 yard line, Brandon Radcliff fumbled the ball on a drive that would've likely made the score 24-7. Instead, Louisville then missed a field goal on the subsequent possession. Early in the game, Lamar Jackson carried out a tremendous play-action fake, only to miss and overthrow a completely uncovered Keith Towbridge.
In the end, however, it was a Duke mistake that sealed the game. After forcing Louisville into a missed field goal at 17-14, Duke roughed the Louisville kicker. Two plays later, Lamar Jackson ran the ball in for a touchdown and made the score 24-14, where it finished.
The same week Louisville officially started promoting Lamar Jackson for the Heisman Trophy, the offense never seemed to click. Jackson finished completing just 50% of his passes for 181 yards and a touchdown. He did, however, add 144 yards on the ground and the additional score that put the game out of reach.
Louisville now has eight days to try and recapture something of the efficiency and edge that it played with through the first half of the season.