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Monday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

Easton's already got tailgating down.

I_medium A reminder that the first College Football Playoff Rankings of 2016 will be released exactly a week from tomorrow at 7 p.m.

I_medium Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall announced during his Monday press conference that the Cavaliers will be sticking with Kurt Benkert at quarterback this weekend. Benkert was benched near the end of the team's loss to North Carolina on Saturday.

I_medium Keith Kelsey is that dude.

I_medium ESPN's Heather Dinich looks at five things we learned after the weekend that was in college football.

3. Hello again, Louisville. While the SEC's odds of getting two teams in the committee's top four took a nosedive, the ACC might have boosted its chances with Louisville's 54-13 dismantling of NC State. If Clemson runs the table and wins the ACC title, the Tigers are as close to a lock in the top four as you can get. It's impossible not to notice, though, how thoroughly dominant Louisville looked against a team Clemson was fortunate to beat at home last week, 24-17. The best-case scenario for the ACC to have two top-four teams is for Clemson to remain undefeated, which won't be easy with a trip to Florida State looming on Saturday. The Seminoles will also be another common opponent to measure Clemson and Louisville against, as the Cardinals caught the nation's attention when they embarrassed FSU 63-20 on Sept. 17. Louisville's résumé could be impacted, though, by Houston's loss to SMU. Houston was the only ranked opponent remaining on Louisville's schedule. That game lost its luster when Houston lost to Navy, but the loss to SMU could drop the Cougars from the Top 25 entirely.

I_medium Louisville jumps all the way to No. 2 in the new S&P Ratings from Football Outsiders. Michigan is No. 1.

I_medium College Football News' Pete Fiutak attempts to project what the College Football Playoff rankings would look like if they came out today, and he's got U of L at No. 5.

I_medium Nailed it.

I_medium The U of L women's soccer team took a 1-0 loss at No. 7 Florida State on Sunday. Here's the recap.

I_medium Lamar Jackson continues to take the drama out of the Heisman Trophy race.

There will be six more college football Saturdays until the Heisman Trophy balloting is completed. But right now, there is zero drama in the Heisman Trophy race.

That's because there's Lamar Jackson, and then there's everybody else. The Louisville quarterback continued his inevitable march to New York in Saturday's 54-13 blistering of NC State. He amassed 431 yards and four more total touchdowns, giving him 34 on the season.

Jackson had been bottled up, at least by his soaring standards, in the No. 7 Cardinals' last game on Oct. 14 against Duke. The Blue Devils played keepaway from Jackson and the Louisville offense by bleeding the clock as much as possible. Jackson still managed 144 rushing yards and 181 passing yards, but he had "only" two scores in the ho-hum, 24-14 victory.

Against NC State, he reacquainted himself with the end zone right away. Jackson completed his first three passes for 36 yards and then ran for a 36-yard touchdown just 1:33 into the game. His day didn't include many spectacular Heisman highlights, like his hurdle at Syracuse. Still, a 74-yard touchdown pass to Jaylen Smith and his laser to Jamari Staples to convert a third-and-goal from the 16 qualified as special.

Jackson did stiff-arm a Wolfpack defender at one point, an image caught on film that looked curiously like a certain bronze statue.

I_medium The Raleigh News & Observer recaps Saturday's rout at PJCS.

I_medium Jeff Greer serves up three takeaways from the second Red-White Scrimmage.

I_medium Is Louisville one of the four best teams in the country? Pretty much every advanced metric, including ESPN's FPI, says so.

Why is Louisville considered so strong?

Led by Lamar Jackson's FBS-best 91.6 Total QBR, the Cardinals have FPI's top projected offense and ninth-rated defense. They have dominated their opponents with nearly a 30-point average scoring margin and the third-best Game Control in the country.

The Cardinals will obviously need to continue winning to remain in the playoff debate, but they are the most likely team in the country to win out (71 percent), according to FPI. They have at least a 96 percent chance to win in four of their remaining five games and are projected to be nearly a two-touchdown favorite at Houston.

If they win out, Louisville will likely be at the mercy of others around the country and the selection committee's preferences. The Cardinals may or may not end up being one of the four most deserving teams in the country, but if the committee is truly trying to find the four best teams to compete in the playoff, right now the Cardinals appear to be one of the scariest teams to face in a national semifinal game.

I_medium The U of L men's soccer team locked up a first round bye in the ACC Tournament with a 3-0 road win at NC State over the weekend.

I_medium There is some concern from at least one doctor now that Teddy Bridgewater may never play football again, which would be extremely uncool.

Teddy Bridgewater continues to rehab in Minnesota and he is making progress. Nearly two months after he dislocated his knee, Bridgewater is making strides and Vikings officials are pleased with where he's at. But other doctors around the league know there are no guarantees Bridgewater will be able to return to the type of quarterback he was, if he makes it back to the NFL at all.

As one doctor who's worked with NFL teams said this week, 'If he didn't make it back, it wouldn't surprise me. This is a bad injury, about the worst knee injury a player can have.'

I_medium This is a pretty staggering graphic.

I_medium Pat Forde has Alabama, Michigan, Washington and Clemson as his four-team playoff right now, with Louisville and West Virginia being the first two teams left out.

I_medium Trey Lewis is doing his thing overseas.

I_medium Top U of L hoops target Lance Thomas said Louisville "felt like home" during his visit over the weekend.

I_medium Ok, but if we didn't have the party deck, that number would be like 732,000 or something.

I_medium Bill Everett of The Crestview Bulletin is back once again with the only pick you need for the week ahead.

Louisville Cardinals vs. Virginia Cavaliers: The Witches in Charlottesville, Va., said the brew in the pot and the Cavaliers are done — no need to stir anymore. Louisville by 25+.


I_medium ESPN has exercised a six-day option on Louisville-Boston College (as well as every other ACC game that week but one), meaning we won't know the time or the television for that tilt until later this week.

I_medium The initial 2016-17 rankings from Ken Pomeroy have Louisville at No. 9.

I_medium Roll damn tide.

I_medium An NC State site looks at the good, the bad and the (mostly) ugly from the Pack's trip to Louisville.

I_medium Backing the Pack also reviews NC State's 54-13 beatdown.

I_medium And finally, R&R is on from 3-6 today recapping Louisville-NC State and everything else that went down this weekend. ESPN's Heather Dinich will join us at 3:45. Listen here.