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Monday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

That feeling when you look at what happened over the weekend and then think about what could happen during the week ahead.

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I_medium Spread check (basketball): Louisville by 17.

I_medium As of the time I'm typing this, there's still no spread on the Louisville-Houston game, presumably because of the questions surrounding the health of Cougar QB Greg Ward Jr.

Here's the bizarre play where he injured his shoulder on Saturday:

Tom Herman described Ward Jr. as "pretty banged up" during his press conference today (his ankle is also injured), but talked as if he expects the senior to be good to go by Thursday. Further complicating things is the fact that Houston's backup quarterback, Kyle Postma, wound up suffering a broken arm after replacing Ward Jr., and is now out for the rest of the season.

I_medium After the madness of last weekend, Dennis Dodd says the door is wide open for at least one non-conference champion to crash the College Football Playoff for the first time.

With all the talk over the last month about winning your own league, I'm actually rooting for there to be no conference champions in the playoff this year. 'Bama loses to Florida, Clemson loses to VT but still gets in, two-loss Penn State wins the Big 10 but Ohio State still represents the league, and then Louisville gets the fourth spot after Washington loses again.

I've always been here for the carnage.

I_medium Louisville is No. 5 in USA Today's re-rank of all 128 FBS teams.

I_medium This is ridiculous.

I_medium SI's Seth Davis examines what we learned from college basketball's opening weekend.

I_medium The college hoops tip-off marathon kicks off tonight. Here's the complete schedule.

I_medium Louisville got the chaos it needed on Saturday, but the Cards still don't fully control their own destiny.

Here's the bad news for Louisville: The road ahead is still a long and winding one.

Even if the committee rewards Louisville with a top-four ranking Tuesday, the Cardinals are far from guaranteed a shot at Alabama in the playoff. It's the same problem now facing the AP's No. 2 team, Ohio State.

Both the Cardinals and Buckeyes can win out, can finish 11-1 and can look like two of the three best teams in the country. What they can't do without a lot of help is win a conference championship, and through the first two years of the playoff, that's been the crown jewel on every playoff team's résumé.

Here's what the committee's protocol for selecting teams says:

"Establish a committee that will be instructed to place an emphasis on winning conference championships, strength of schedule and head-to-head competition ... while at the same time providing enough flexibility and discretion to select a non-champion or independent under circumstances where that particular non-champion or independent is unequivocally one of the four best teams in the country."

Essentially what that means is, if Louisville is going to get into the playoff, it will have to be "unequivocally" one of the four best teams, and given the rather lenient schedule the Cardinals inherited, that's going to be a tough hill to climb.

On the plus side, there are two games remaining that should help Louisville's strength of schedule: Houston and Kentucky. But at the moment, ESPN's metrics show the Cardinals' strength of schedule at No. 59, which won't exactly translate to "unequivocal" without a bit of reverse engineering.

I_medium If you want to feel better after reading that, stat god Nate Silver says Louisville has about a 60 percent chance to make the playoff if they just win their last two games.

I_medium Louisville basketball is No. 14 in CBS' Top 25 (and one) rankings.

I_medium I think Campus Insiders was overthinking it a little too much with the color scheme on this Lamar Jackson Heisman video. The highlights speak for themselves. Do less.

I_medium What looked like a bad weekend for the ACC might actually end up being the best thing for the league's hopes of sending multiple teams to the College Football Playoff.

I_medium History repeats itself all the time in college football, but this weekend was downright eerie.

I_medium Things are going great in Knoxville though.

I_medium Pat Forde gives 10 thoughts on the weekend that was in college football.

2. Aside from the fan bases that pulled the big upsets, the biggest celebrations Saturday night likely came in Louisville, Ky., and State College, Pa. The sixth-ranked Cardinals actually trailed Wake Forest at home 12-0, didn't take the lead until the fourth quarter and then exploded for 34 points in the final 15 minutes for a 44-12 victory. The Nittany Lions, one of the hotter teams in the country, trailed Indiana by 10 with 18 minutes to play, took the lead, lost it, regained it and scored 17 points in the final four minutes for a 45-31 victory.

One-loss Louisville theoretically ascends, but could still face a compare/contrast issue with Clemson - the two have the same record, and the Tigers won the head-to-head matchup, but the Tigers might not be favored against the Cardinals if they had a rematch on a neutral field. (They won't, because they're in the same Atlantic Coast Conference division.) Two-loss Penn State saw its chances of winning the Big Ten East improve dramatically: If Ohio State beats Michigan in Columbus Nov. 26 and the Nittany Lions win out against Rutgers and Michigan State (combined league records of 1-15), Penn State would win the division tiebreaker.

I_medium Already nervous.

I_medium New highlights of U of L QB commit Malik Cunningham are here.

I_medium Louisville is No. 4 in the new S&P Ratings from Football Outsiders.

I_medium Somebody give Jacoby an awesome home.

I_medium Clemson still sits atop the ACC power rankings from ESPN.

I_medium The Cards do move to the top of the conference power rankings from the ACC Digital Network's Jeff Fischel.

I_medium Clemson fans are going berserk over the officiating in their loss to Pittsburgh, which is just adorable.

I_medium Just adorable.

I_medium Speaking of which, both teams seemed to have benefitted from some questionable calls in that game.

I_medium The new bowl projections from SB Nation have Louisville in the playoff, taking on Alabama in the Peach Bowl.

I_medium If you're taking group pictures in the concourse and I see you, I will jump in uninvited.

Great people.

I_medium I am so happy that Jaire Alexander did this, but I have no idea how he didn't get flagged. Let's wait until we're back on the sidelines to bust that one out next time ... unless the game's out of hand.

I_medium So it's safe to say that the Louisville players heard the comments from Booger McFarland last week.

Jaylen Smith is quickly becoming my favorite Louisville football Twitter follow since Andrew Johnson.

I_medium Rick Bozich explains why Houston is dangerous for Louisville.

I_medium Campus Insiders is already on the record with its prediction for Thursday.

Matchup To Watch

Louisville special teams vs. Houston special teams

In last year's game, Houston's special teams helped deliver a victory. The Cougars partially blocked John Wallace's 53-yard field goal attempt that would have tied it with 54 seconds left, and Brandon Wilson also returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown that helped tie the game. In its quest for an upset on Thursday, a big kickoff return could help turn the tide.

Louisville vs. Houston Prediction

I would expect Houston to play more like the team we saw against Oklahoma than the team that has struggled since its loss to Navy. Ultimately, though, Louisville's slew of offensive weapons are too much for the solid Houston defense to handle. The Cards pull away in the fourth quarter.

Louisville vs. Houston Score Prediction: Louisville 38, Houston 27

I_medium ESPN ranks the best losses of all the playoff contenders, and guess who's No. 1.

I_medium Very cool.

I_medium There is a new holiday ticket plan available for Cardinal basketball fans.

I_medium Blogger so Dear reacts to Wake Forest's loss to Louisville.

I_medium And finally, R&R is back on the air today from 3-6 recapping the highly eventful weekend that was and looking ahead to the monster week that will be. ESPN's Chris "The Bear" Fallica will join us at 3:30. Listen here.