Because I love the Cardinals, as do the majority of my readers, these gamecaps rarely focus, except in rare exceptional instances, on what U of L's opponent may or may not have done during a game.
Yes, I am pleased the Cards are now 5-1, having survived 24-14 over a well-coached and as eminently prepared team as you're going to see.
Yes, I wonder what U of L's flat, uninspiring performance on national TV Friday night will do to its Final Four chances? (At 9:17 my pal texted from where he was watching, down south in the heart of college football country. "This game has killed any chance of the Final Four." I responded "Yes." By dawn's early light, I think he and I may have been somewhat premature. But the road certainly narrowed.)
Yes, I wonder where Lamar Jackson's Heisman hopes stand? It's a fickle crowd, those voters. It was about this time last year that frontrunning "lock" Leonard Fournette saw his fortunes fade. And Jabrill Peppers, wearing maize and blue, is the current Flav o' Flav of the Month. It's easier to prevail in NY as a Wolverine than a Cardinal. But LJ is far far from out of it, plenty of opportunities for moments of spectacularity remain.
So, I'll get to the Cardinals performance, lackluster as it was, in a moment.
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But first I feel compelled to extol the virtues of Duke's fourth drive after halftime, the playbook beauty which started on the Blue Devils own 25 with :27 to play in the third.
At which juncture Louisville held an unsteady, unimpressive 17-7 lead.
After the completion of which, Duke had chopped the Cards' advantage to a precarious 3 points, 17-14.
Duke's 15 play, 75 yard TD scoring drive ate up 8:53 of the clock. It was well crafted, well executed, man up football at its finest. I tip my hat to David Cutcliffe for drafting it, and his Blue Devil players for playing it out. I lament that U of L's damn good D simply couldn't get off the field.
During the drive, the visitors consistently hit the Cards up the middle on the ground. Three yards here. Seven yards there. Five off tackle. The Blue Devils were never stopped without some gain on any rushing attempt.
Duke's freshman QB Daniel Jones completed four of five attempted passes, three clever sideline tosses, then the 20 yarder to Johnathan Lloyd for the score.
Most important, the Blue Devils converted on three of their four 3d down situations. On the other, they converted on 4th & 1 at their own 34 to stay on the field.
No reason to carry on. But it was simply masterful, especially considering time, place and circumstance.
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So, what are the prospects now for 1) the Cards to make the playoff, and for 2) Lamar Jackson to capture the Heisman?
Were I a betting man, I wouldn't lay a penny on the prospects of either.
Though LJ remains in play if he returns to defender-leaping, oh my heavens did you see that form. Frankly, Jackson had a number of those runs last night. Unfortunately most of the boffo ones were scramble scampers, when the O line left their QB in peril on passing plays. The Cardinal star also had a couple of those snap of the wrist passing gems. But they were more than offset by even more inexplicable underthrows.
21 rushes for 144 yards is damn fine. 13/26 for 181 in the air with a TD and no picks is not bad.
But, in the context of his Sports Illustrated cover hype and resulting expectations, they are, to be honest, not enough for the statuette. All of which can be overcome, if he dons his Superman cape in future battles.
The Final Four, one guy's opinion, is not gonna happen.
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I need to check myself here.
At moments like this, I always here the words of Denny Crum, when his Cardinal ballers fell to a lesser foe. "You've got to have a healthy respect for your opponent."
I could go on about the Cards' horrid second quarter performance, which I dubbed Kragthorpean in my game scribbles, as well as other unforeseen adversities.
Or, how if it weren’t for that roughing the kicker penalty, it could have easily been an L.
Yet . . . yet . . . yet . . . Louisville doubled up the Devils in total yards, after all, and did win the game. It just sure didn't feel like it walking out of the stadium. That the crowd was clad in black seemed appropriate.
Anyway, Louisville is 5-1. Louisville is Top Ten. Louisville kicks it off again on national TV next Saturday at noon against the Wolfpack.
-- Seedy K