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Thursday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

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Deacon James, who claims to own the title of being Ray Ganong's biggest fan, is ready for his first helping of Cardinal hoops and football in the same day.

I_medium Spread check (football): Louisville by 15.

I_medium Spread check (basketball): Louisville by 21.5

I_medium The last true road game arrival of the season is here. Savor it.

I_medium Bobby Petrino appeared on "Mike & Mike" this morning and said what you'd expect him to say about tonight's game against Houston and Lamar Jackson's Heisman Trophy campaign. The main takeaway from the interview came at the very end when he was asked about WakeyLeaks and served up an outright denial, saying "I really don't understand what they're talking about."

I don't think anybody does.

I_medium Tonight is the biggest game that Houston will play in this season, and they're putting everything into it.

This is the American Athletic Conference championship game.

This is the New Year's Six bowl.

This is the College Football Playoff.

"This is our Super Bowl," wide receiver Chance Allen said.

All those things roll into one as the University of Houston hosts fifth-ranked Louisville and Heisman Trophy favorite Lamar Jackson on Thursday night at TDECU Stadium.

It's also another opportunity for the Cougars to send a message to the college football establishment (along with a good chunk of fans) that abandoned them after a pair of October losses.

Overnight, UH went from playoff contender to out of sight and out of mind.

"The season hasn't gone as planned and as we thought it should," Allen said. "But we have this week to look forward to."

I_medium Even though tonight's game isn't quite the colossal showdown some expected to be a couple months ago, Steven Godfrey still says that Louisville-Houston is a shining example of college football scheduling done right.

I_medium Houston nose tackle Ed Oliver remains Pro Football Focus's highest-graded freshman of the 2016 college football season. Louisville will get a close-up look at Oliver tonight.

I_medium Your quick video preview of tonight's game from U of L:

I_medium ESPN's Matt Fortuna breaks down the current playoff statuses of Clemson and Louisville.

I_medium The narrative that Louisville has played too many close games needs to die a slow and painful death.

I_medium ESPN's KC Joyner, who has been putting together the greatest contrarian resume of all-time over the last couple of months, is now touting (insider) Alabama's Jalen Hurts for the Heisman Trophy.

I_medium Expedia has named Louisville as one of the "15 greatest places to experience American culture." I give about 73 percent of the credit for that to the giant bat. The other 27 goes to the confusing "Fun is Bowling" sign in front of Ten Pin Lanes.

I_medium Bill Connelly's S&P formula likes Louisville tonight by about 13.

I_medium Scott Robertson is all packed and ready for Houston.

I_medium Louisville women's basketball signees Dana Evans and Loretta Kakala have been named to the Naismith Trophy High School Girl's preseason watch list.

I_medium If it comes down to a beauty pageant for the fourth spot and the committee needs to be able to say that Louisville is unequivocally better than Washington or the Big 10 champion, stuff like this should come into play.

It likely won't, but it should.

I_medium Brandon Radcliff says that if opposing defenses crash on Lamar Jackson, he knows his role is to make them pay.

I_medium Most important guy to keep an eye on for Houston tonight, in my opinion:

I_medium Pro Football Focus lists Devonte Fields as one of the biggest fallers in the 2017 NFL Draft class. A few more performances like last week's would go a long way towards rectifying that.

I_medium Things continue to go less than swimmingly for Russ Smith in Turkey.

I_medium The U of L women's basketball team rolled to its third win of the season with a road blowout over Middle Tennessee State yesterday.

I_medium The Cardinal women's lacrosse team has signed nine standout players.

I_medium Oh lawd it's on.

I am already not calmer than you are.

I_medium The Dalai Lama is making a return visit to Louisville in April, 2017. So we've got that going for us, which is nice.

I_medium One member of the Campus Insiders staff is rolling with the upset tonight.

Jonathan Bass

Give me the Cougars in an upset. One, because they tend to play up to opponents -€” look no further than the Peach Bowl against FSU or this year's season-opener against Oklahoma. And, as the past two Saturdays have proven, anarchy has taken quite a liking to the CFP. Louisville has played with fire in recent weeks -€” narrowly escaping Virginia, and then spotting Wake Forest a 12-point lead last weekend -€” appearing ripe for an upset. Houston won't make a New Year's Six bowl, but its presence will be felt in the role of spoiler against the Cards.

Robert Judin

The wheels have come off the carriage in Houston, and we're probably a month away from Tom Herman bolting for a Power Five job. But before we get there, we have to sit through this Louisville win. Lamar Jackson is ticked this his Cardinals aren't in the top four in the College Football Playoff, and he's going to take out that frustration on the Cougars. He'll run for three touchdowns, throw for two more and will not only cement his Heisman Trophy candidacy, but also add a quality win to Louisville's resume.

Dave Miller

Tom Herman's Cougars have not looked very sharp since their loss to Navy earlier in the year, as they seem to play down to their competition. Don't expect that this week against the Cardinals. We may not see a performance such as the one UH put on in the season opener against Oklahoma, but it should deliver one of its finest showings of the season behind Greg Ward Jr., who needs to play a clean game if the Cougars want to pull the upset.

Ward likely is not 100 percent healthy after taking a beating throughout the year, and he'll have his hands full against Todd Grantham's defense. The Cougars defense, meanwhile, has been stout against the run. However, stopping Lamar Jackson and Brandon Radcliff will be quite the chore. Ultimately, Louisville's slew of offensive weapons are too much for the solid Houston defense to handle, as the Cards pull away in the fourth quarter.

I_medium Today's afternoon tip-off might cause some parking issues downtown.

I_medium The Spun likes Louisville by 11 tonight.

Louisville wins this game. Houston will put up a good fight with a solid defense, but Lamar Jackson and his offensive weapons will be too much for the Cougars. I wouldn't be surprised if the score was tied up entering the fourth quarter, but ultimately I think the Cardinals get the win and move to 10-1 on the season.

Louisville 35, Houston 24

I_medium Props to LeBron James, who has donated $2.5 million to fund a Muhammad Ali exhibit at the Smithsonian.

I_medium Tuesday night's College Football Playoff Rankings show drew more viewers than both the Kentucky/Michigan State and Duke/Kansas basketball games.

I_medium Plax is woke.

I_medium For those attending tonight's game in Houston, they DO sell alcohol at TDECU Stadium. They cut patrons off at the end of the 3rd quarter.

I_medium Elvis Dumervil appears ready to return to the field for the Ravens for the first time since Oct. 9.

I_medium Something to keep an eye on this evening.

I_medium Jimbo Fisher says he believes Louisville is "very deserving" of a playoff spot, which you'd expect him to say since the team in question almost made his guys quit football forever.

I_medium College Football News likes Louisville over Houston in a 34-30 thriller.

I_medium We need our Uzbekistan contingent to get these two wins today.

I_medium The Detroit Lions are keeping tabs on several players in tonight's game.

I_medium The Daily Cougar examines how Louisville and Houston stack up against one another.

I_medium This is the saddest story ever told.

I_medium U of L signee Malik Williams has big plans for his final season of high school ball.

I_medium I went on SB Nation Radio last night to talk about the Houston game and what I know about WakeyLeaks. You can listen to that here:

I_medium In a wide open season for women's basketball, Swish Appeal says Jeff Walz has a team that appears to be a legitimate threat to earn the program's first national title.

I_medium Sean Martin likes Houston in a 47-44 upset tonight.

I_medium Five of the seven college football writers for CBS like Houston to at least cover the spread tonight.

I_medium With the basketball game tipping off at 4, Ramsey & Rutherford will be coming to you at the special time of 2-4. If we'd competed with the basketball game, the whole show would have been me not paying attention to anything else and simply talking about what I was watching on TV. Rick Pitino will join us at 2, and then we'll preview both of this afternoon/evening's games. Listen here.

I_medium And finally, beat Long Beach State, then beat Houston.