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Friday evening Cardinal news and notes

It's all happening.

You're not doing anything but thinking about the game anyway, so here are some super late night news and notes.

I_medium Spread check: Florida State by 1.

I_medium A reminder that if you're reading this at any time before kickoff, there is live radio coverage of Louisville-FSU happening on 93.9 The Ville.

I_medium Via John Ramsey, your guest celebrity picker for College GameDay is Laila Ali.

I_medium Could Louisville-FSU wind up being the game of the year in 2016? College Football Daily explores.

I_medium Florida State defensive end Josh Sweat didn't travel with the team Thursday because of a knee injury, but he is in Louisville now and it sounds like there's a very strong chance that he plays on Saturday. That would be a huge deal for the 'Noles, because Sweat is the best run-stopping defensive lineman they have.

I_medium SB Nation's Alex Kirshner and Bud Elliott talked with some guys who knew Lamar Jackson well back in high school and who aren't surprised at what he's doing in college.

"I'll be honest with you. It's not surprising, because I know what his athletic ability is and his upside is," Swain says.

"We saw it ahead of time, and we're happy that it's playing out the way it is," Caruso says.

"I'll tell you the truth. Not the Heisman, yet," Tome says. "But I will tell you, just like every coach here and anybody that knows him, they expected great things. It was just a matter of knowing the plays, and he picked that up."

When Jackson was 11, Tome was the Boynton Beach police athletic director, responsible for overseeing youth programs run through the department. Tome's team of 11-year-olds took on Jackson's North West Broward Raiders in what they called the Super Bowl. Jackson ran for two touchdowns in a 12-6 win.

"He literally beat us by himself," Tome said.

Years later, Tome walked up to Jackson to chat, not realizing their acquaintance.

"I said, ‘Nice to meet you, heard good things about you.' And he said, ‘Well, I know you.' I said, ‘You don't know me.' He said, ‘Yeah, you were the director of the police athletic league when I beat your team in the Super Bowl, the Boynton Beach Bulldogs.'

"And I still didn't believe it," Tome said. So he called the team's coach. Jackson was right.

"He always kind of had that little swag to him," Caruso said. "We noticed it his junior year, when he [transferred] over. He was pretty special from the beginning."

I_medium Tom Jurich says he's excited for both Saturday and the future of U of L athletics.

I_medium Best sign so far.

I_medium Although Derwin James is out and Josh Sweat might be out, Florida State will have four players back from injuries on Saturday.

I_medium The Louisville basketball team has the football team's back.

I_medium The number of talented basketball and football recruits who will be at the game tomorrow is astounding.

I_medium breaks down the four biggest storylines for Saturday.

Florida State D vs. Louisville O

In a classic "something has to give" game, we'll see the nation's top offense square off against one of the nation's most talented defenses. The Cardinals lead the country in yards per game (754), yards per play (9.99) and offensive touchdowns (18). Lamar Jackson's unreal first two games have led Louisville thus far, but the big question will be whether he can continue to play at an elite level against equally elite competition.

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher says his team is preparing the same way as every week. He's made sure his guys don't forget that Louisville has a number of big playmakers on offense, but he knows that it all starts with Jackson.

"He is definitely the key to the ship that makes them run. There's no doubt about that," Fisher said Wednesday. "He's much better in the passing game, much more relaxed, much more poised. He's so dynamic as an athlete."

On the other side of the ball, Florida State is going to need a big performance from its defense, led by the nation's sack leader DeMarcus Walker. The pressure intensified early this week when the Seminoles announced star safety Derwin James will miss five to seven weeks with a torn meniscus in his left knee.

The loss of James certainly hurts, but Florida State has an exceptionally deep secondary and can substitute a number of players into pretty much every position. The Seminoles must come up with a handful of timely stops, but the ability for the offense to sustain drives and keep the defense off the field may prove to be just as important.

I_medium The planned tributes to Ali tomorrow are drawing rave reviews.

I_medium You're doing the Lord's work, Cobb family.

I_medium Is the ACC's Atlantic Division the best in college football? Maybe.

I_medium Not sure if this is sacrilegious or not but it makes me happy.

I_medium Bill Connelly says he's seen Louisville, and Bobby Petrino, in this position before, and he's not quite buying the hype until both prove they're worthy.

This is usually where things go awry for Bobby Petrino.

In 2005, his Louisville Cardinals reached ninth in the country but got throttled at USF. They clawed back to 15th but lost the Gator Bowl by 11 to No. 12 Virginia Tech.

In 2006, Louisville reached third before losing at No. 15 Rutgers in a huge ESPN primetime game.

In 2010 at Arkansas, Petrino's Razorbacks were 12th when they got blown out at No. 7 Auburn. They rose to eighth and lost in the Sugar Bowl to No. 6 Ohio State.

In 2011, the Hogs got all the way to third and took an early lead at No. 1 LSU, then allowed a 41-3 run in a blowout loss.

There's always been a what-if, but those missed opportunities usually took place on someone else's field. On Saturday, ESPN's College GameDay is in Louisville, and Petrino's No. 10 Cardinals will host No. 2 Florida State in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium (with shiny new helmets, to boot) at noon ET on ABC.

This is the first battle of top-10 teams in Louisville since No. 5 UL beat No. 3 WVU in November 2006. Petrino has acknowledged the buzz and the opportunity, but has spent most of the week delivering coachspeak about focus and distractions and "going about our business the same way we have." Focus is easier talked about than executed.

I_medium Six of the writers over at Tomahawk Nation like the Cards to pull the upset tomorrow.

I_medium Love the focus. Love the intensity.

I_medium Does practicing against Lamar Jackson help the Louisville defense against Deondre Francois? CN2 explores.

I_medium I hope that kid left the mask on all day or got sent home for trying.

I_medium Brandeis appears to have changed for the better since I left.

I_medium Florida State has been pretty dominant over the years against U of L.

I_medium This is enjoyable.

I_medium It's not at the forefront of any of our minds for obvious reasons, but CBS' Matt Norlander looks at the 30 most intriguing games of the 2016-17 season.

I_medium That snotty mf'er.

I_medium Have college football games become too long? Yes, yes they have.

I_medium The Ringer says Lamar Jackson is part messiah, part mystery.

After the Louisville quarterback made his college debut at Auburn last September, a game in which he threw for 100 yards, rushed for 106 more, and almost brought the Cardinals back from a 24-€”0 deficit, Tigers coach Gus Malzahn said: "That freshman quarterback, he's electric. ... He's going to be hard to deal with." In retrospect, we should have known then that Jackson was going to be something special.

But there's a reason he came into the 2016 season on the fringes of the national conversation, and that's because his freshman season was more than just a four-month highlight of him stunting on people. He was benched in favor of Kyle Bolin for extended stretches of the 2015 campaign, and he went a combined 17-of-38 passing for 271 yards in two uninspiring outings prior to his destruction of Texas A&M in last year's bowl game. For as gaudy as his numbers were last fall — 1,840 passing yards and 960 rushing yards with 23 total touchdowns — he also went through his progressions at an astonishingly slow pace, a tendency that SB Nation's Ian Boyd broke down in excellent detail in June. It's plausible that Jackson's 2016 performances against Charlotte and Syracuse were primarily the product of the defenses he was playing against; they had a better chance of stopping Jackson than you, me, and nine random strangers, but not by a whole lot.

This is where we are at with Jackson. He's wowed us, bursting onto the scene as college football's September darling, but we're not quite sure if it's safe to really believe. Entering this weekend, he's both a messiah and a mystery.

I_medium If you're in need of a very last second outfit for game day our friends at the Adidas Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass in Simpsonville are running a 30% off sale, and are also offering $20 off $100 and $50 off of $150 on top of the sale.

I_medium No word on whether or not Mangok's going to be suiting up for the Cards against No. 1 Notre Dame tonight.

I_medium DJ K-Dogg's tailgating mix for Florida State is here.

I_medium The star power is going to be strong inside PJCS on Saturday, but can any of the major players perform poorly and still maintain a shot at winning the Heisman Trophy?

I_medium Well done, ladies.

I_medium Dalvin Cook and Lamar Jackson once squared off (video) in an incredible Florida high school playoff game.

I_medium Bleacher Report says Jackson vs. Francois isn't your father's QB showdown.

I_medium Dalvin Cook doesn't seem concerned.

I_medium Kent Taylor says that knowing Louisville's journey gives added perspective to Saturday.

I_medium Gotta let fools know.

I_medium The C-J's Steve Jones likes Louisville to pull the upset, 41-35.

I_medium If there's any one in St. Lucia, please hang out with the Purcells.

I_medium Chop Chat says Deondre Francois is going to need some help if he wants to avoid his first loss as a college QB.

I_medium Inquisitr gives five reasons why FSU is beating Louisville.

I_medium FSU video bros are not messing around.

I_medium Even though both teams have great quarterbacks, it might be the running backs that decide Saturday's showdown.

I_medium FanSided gives five reasons why U of L will win.

I_medium All five staff members at The Daily Nole like Florida State to come back to Tallahassee with a win.

I_medium The Comeback thinks the game in Louisville will be the best of the weekend.

Florida State - Louisville will be the best game of the weekend. The quarterback duel between Deondre Francois (69% completion percentage, 340.5 passing yards per game, 5 TDs) versus Lamar Jackson (507.5 yards of total offense per game, 13 total TDs) will be one of the best that we'll see all season long.

Both quarterbacks have played well against ranked opponents in their careers. Francois completed 33 of 52 passes for 419 yards and two touchdowns, while leading Florida State to the largest comeback in school history in his only start versus a top 25 foe. Jackson has completed 60.3% of his passes in three starts against ranked opponents.
Another interesting matchup to watch is the Florida State running game versus the Louisville front seven. The Cardinal run defense is one of the best of the country, ranking 11th in the tackles for a loss, while allowing just 2.38 yards per carry. It'll be interesting to see how it fares against Dalvin Cook, who averaged 136.67 yards against ranked opponents last season.

On the other side of the ball, I'm interested to see what the Seminoles do defensively now that Derwin James - arguably the best defensive player in the country - will miss 5-7 weeks with a knee injury. That's not the defender you want to lose against someone like Lamar Jackson, who ranks third nationally in rushing yards per game, ninth in passing yards per game, and averages 10.17 yards every time he touches the ball.

The key to a Louisville victory is avoiding turnovers. The Cardinals led the Seminoles 14-13 in the third quarter last year before two turnovers swung the game in Florida State's favor. Offense wasn't a problem for UL in that contest, as the team racked up 406 yards and an average of 6.25 yards per play - the highest total that the Seminoles allowed last season.

I_medium CBS features Lamar Jackson in its biggest storylines to watch out for in week three.

I_medium The AP's Ralph Russo also highlights Louisville-FSU as the weekend's best game.

I_medium And finally, beat Florida State.