I'm going to start this week by saying the exact same thing I said 14 days ago: Enjoy every moment of this week. Louisville is at the epicenter of the college football universe, and in five days they're going to play a game that, win or lose, we're all going to remember forever. That's pretty fantastic.
This whole ride has been so damn fun, and I can't wait for everything this week has in store for us.
Shakin' the Southland, SB Nation's Clemson site, takes its first look at the week ahead.
Lamar Jackson, who has played about 11 out of a possible 16 quarters, has accounted for more total touchdowns than all 128 teams in the FBS besides his own and Michigan, which has yet to face a ranked opponent. Of all the "shake your head" stats he's put up through four weeks, that has to be the shake your headiest.
Don't call me on that term, it's a real thing. Yes it is. Don't look at me like that.
Louisville is playing a huge role in the still-evolving rise of the ACC.
This league is a bottom dweller no more. It started with Florida State, then moved on with Clemson. Now Louisville is right up there with the flag bearers, hoping to become the next ACC team to make the College Football Playoff.
When No. 3 Louisville travels to play No. 5 Clemson on Saturday, it will mark the first time the ACC will have two top-10 matchups within the first five weeks of the season. Only twice before has the ACC had multiple top-10 matchups (three in 2004, two in 2013) -- but never before so early.
The early blockbuster matchups mean the spotlight has squarely landed on the ACC in a way that it never has previously. To that point, College GameDay will be at an ACC game for the third time in four weeks (Bristol Motor Speedway for Tennessee-Virginia Tech, a first-ever trip to Louisville for the Florida State game, and now Clemson this weekend), a scenario that would have been hard to fathom even three years ago.
Meanwhile, the league is coming off one of the best weekends it has ever had, going 8-0 in nonconference play on Saturday. That includes the most nonconference road wins in any week in league history (five). Two came at Power 5 venues -- Duke over Notre Dame and Wake Forest over Indiana -- both upset victories.
While it is undeniable the league has gained in stature, the truth is there is no way to draw any conclusion about how it all will end. Only four weeks have been played, and more big ACC showdowns loom: Could No. 12 Florida State and No. 14 Miami be top-10 teams by the time they play on Oct. 8? Will the traditional ACC showdown between Clemson and Florida State on Oct. 29 have playoff implications or no implications at all?
What happens between Louisville and Clemson on Saturday could end up going a long way toward determining not only an ACC champion, but how the league is viewed moving forward. And we are only in the first week of October.
The U of L men's soccer team checks in at No. 2 in the first RPI rankings of the 2016 season. The only team above them? Notre Dame, whose lone loss came at the hands (feet?) of the Cardinals earlier this month.
Not bad for a team that was picked to finish fifth out of six teams in the ACC's Atlantic Division before the start of the season.
There are THREE Top-10 match-ups this weekend in college football.— ESPNU (@ESPNU) September 26, 2016
Which one are you most excited about?
SB Nation's Bud Elliott breaks down the four names you need to know in LSU's coaching search. Spoiler: none of them are Bobby Petrino.
With Miles gone, it's Jimbo Fisher, Tom Hermann or bust for LSU.
The U of L women's soccer team came back from a 2-0 deficit to take down No. 17 Boston College, 3-2 in double overtime Sunday afternoon at Lynn Stadium. Junior Kaela Dickerman scored the game-winning goal 19 seconds into the second overtime period. The Cards host Notre Dame Saturday at 7 p.m.
What's all this trap talk 4-0— Double nickel (@D1prospect6) September 25, 2016
According to NBC, Kentucky at Louisville on Dec. 21 is the third-best non-conference game of the upcoming college basketball season. The Cards game against Indiana on New Year's Eve is No. 10, and their home tilt against Purdue in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge is No. 20.
The seventh-ranked Louisville field hockey team took care of Appalachian State on Sunday.
"You are trying to make me feel a little older right?" Radcliff said recently with a laugh.
"It has been a great experience," Radcliff said. "I feel the ACC brings a lot more out of you. We've got top opponents as opposed to when we were in the Big East around that time, I'm not sure if there were any top opponents like the people we're playing now in the ACC. The university, changing conferences, it has come a long way ... it's something I think helped our program tremendously."
Nobody will dispute that. Let's go back to 2012 to provide the perfect contrast. Radcliff and Hughley redshirted that season; Brown played in seven games. Louisville began the season 9-0 but found itself ranked No. 9 and not really in the discussion about making a BCS national championship game. Why? The Cards had beaten exactly zero ranked teams and had to fight the perception that the Big East did not belong among the automatic qualifying BCS conferences.
The point was proven the following two weeks, when Louisville lost to Syracuse and UConn. Still, the Cards won the Big East title and won a trip to the Sugar Bowl to face Florida. Nobody gave Louisville much of a shot to win. Could a Big East team really take down the SEC?
"I can remember the Sugar Bowl like it was yesterday," Radcliff said. "Every day we were in New Orleans, I can remember Coach [Charlie] Strong telling us, 'I'm going to coach you as hard as I can. I know what we've got, I know what type of team we are. Don't worry about the outsiders and what they say.' He kept pushing every guy to know it doesn't matter about the conference. Our guys were very confident, because they knew what type of players we had on our team. It was a great environment. We had a lot of fans, and it helped us be known as a football school and not just a basketball school."
In a matchup of top 20 teams at Lynn Stadium Saturday night, the 13th-ranked men's soccer team tied dominated No. 16 Virginia, 6-1. The six goals were the most the Cardinals have scored in a game since 2009.
Shakin' the Southland does a film review of Clemson's first quarter performance against Georgia Tech last week.
The Chicago Tribune has a great story about baseball, race and the city of Chicago, and former Cardinal Corey Ray is featured prominently.
Corey Ray, a Simeon graduate who played in the ACE program and went on to compete at Louisville, was the No. 5 pick in this year's draft by theBrewers to become the highest pick out of Chicago since 1989.
"People hear you're from the South Side of Chicago and the first thing they say is, 'Oh, that's tough,' or 'Oh, there's a lot of crime,' or 'How did you get out?'" Ray said. "I'm showing I'm from the South Side of Chicago and there is some positivity going on there. It's great to be a first-rounder but I expected to be in (pro) baseball with all the help I got. I knew one of us would do it."
Like the success of the 2015 Jackie Robinson West Little League national championship (later vacated), Ray's ascent has inspired black youth to feel connected to baseball and want to play, some coaches said.
"It has definitely helped," said Coe, of ACE, on Ray being drafted. "I received more phone calls and emails about our tryouts this year than ever before. I (had) three or four messages a day."
Others remain unconcerned about the number of African-American players.
"There are so many other things I'm concerned with than the rate of African-American players in Major League Baseball," White Sox vice president Ken Williams said. "I'd like to see incarceration rate reduced. I'd like to see the teen pregnancy rate reduced. I'd like to see people graduate from high school. To look toward a professional career in it? Have your dream. That's great. But have some realistic backups as well. We don't need more major league players as much as we need college graduates."
The Crunch Zone has your statistical analysis of Louisville-Marshall.
Cole Hikutini's bounce-back performance came at the perfect time for U of L.
Louisville is No. 5 in the "Strength of Record" rankings.
Louisville is undefeated all-time when being featured as the "College GameDay" game of the week, winning by an average score of 43 points.— Mike Rutherford (@CardChronicle) September 25, 2016
Underdog Dynasty recaps Louisville-Marshall.
Louisville has the second-best chance of any team in college football to finish the regular season unbeaten.
2) Louisville (4-0), 26.1 percent
The thing about the ACC Atlantic is it has three great teams but not much else once you get past that trio at the top. And Louisville plays the last of the division's good teams on Saturday when they travel to Clemson, with the pole position in the Atlantic on the line. If the Cardinals get past Clemson, all they'll have to do for the next month and a half is not slip up against some of the weakest competition the ACC has to offer. Then everything will come down to a massive Thursday night game against Houston on Nov. 17.
Boise State is No. 1.
The U of L men's golf team is headed to the Bearcat Invitational this week.
U of L's student newspaper does a Q&A with Clemson's student newspaper about Saturday's game.
Lamar Jackson became the first player since 2003 to account for seven touchdowns in multiple games in a single season, but he still wasn't thrilled with his performance on Saturday.
Louisville stays at the top of ESPN's FPI rankings.
Campus Insiders is the first publication on record with a prediction for Saturday, and it's disappointing.
Clemson vs. Louisville Prediction
This contest should be one of if not the best game on the ACC's slate this season. The Tigers are starting to finally look in sync offensively, and the defense showed a nastiness against Georgia Tech. Meanwhile, the Cardinals easily passed what was supposed to be a major test against Florida State. Jackson will find things a little bit more difficult against this defense, but he's also a special talent. Watson and this Clemson offense won't be surprised by how good Louisville is defensively, and keep in mind that the Tigers were able to move the football against Alabama in the national title game last year. Expect a lot of offensive fireworks and big plays defensively, and expect Venables' unit to get a key takeaway in the fourth quarter to help Swinney and Co. escape with a win.
Clemson vs. Louisville Score Prediction: Clemson 37, Louisville 33
The Daily Caller has Louisville at No. 2 in its weekly playoff rankings. Ohio State (1), Michigan (3) and Alabama (4) are the other teams.
Vin Scully's final home call of a Dodgers game was magical.
Louisville will be going for its 500th victory in program history when it visits Clemson on Oct. 1.— Kelly Dickey (@RealCardGame) September 25, 2016
Bill Connelly's college football podcast is always worthy of a listen if you're into advanced stats.
I loved the handful of Marshall fans online after the game who called Lamar Jackson overrated when the actual Marshall fans at the game were lined up in front of U of L's bus hoping to get his autograph.
Marshall fans waiting to get Lamars autograph pic.twitter.com/HhG7iiovfi— Jspa (@jspalding79) September 25, 2016
Lamar even signed a Thundering Herd cast before he was able to make it to the locker room.
Apparently NFL.com is now writing weekly recaps of Lamar Jackson's performance.
Lamar Jackson attempts to explain his rise.
The recruiting rankings would indicate that Louisville will be blown out at Clemson on Saturday.
You need this shirt. Here's where you can get it.
Josh Harvey-Clemons (whose last name I'm going to struggle with even more than usual this week) had another monster game against Marshall.
The world lost both Jose Fernandez and Arnold Palmer this weekend. Here's a terrific piece on the former.
Dana O'Neill looks at which college hoops rivalry will be the most significant this season.
Unofficially, I totally approve of it.
Clemson vs. Louisville is a matchup full of "pizzazz."
Dabo Swinney is ready for a "special" week leading up to the Louisville game, but he's not going to tell you how he plans on slowing down Lamar Jackson.
And finally, R&R is on from 3-6 today recapping the Marshall win and kicking off one of the biggest weeks in Louisville football history. Listen here.