On the biggest stage in school history, Louisville did not flinch.
With No. 2 Florida State in town, a sold-out crowd and the country watching, No. 10 Louisville put on a performance that defied its history with the ‘Noles and resulted in a stunning 63-20 win.
It was Louisville’s first-ever win against a Top 2 team, and the loss was the worst in Florida State’s 24-year ACC history. Florida State came into the game with a 14-2 record against Louisville and its only loss in the past 15 meetings had come in overtime.
But Louisville didn’t care about history. It jumped on Florida State from the opening kick and though the Seminoles tried to claw back into the game early in the second quarter, the Cardinals scored 49 unanswered points until it took its starters out in the fourth quarter to run away with the contest.
Quarterback Lamar Jackson, who had been hyped as the Heisman frontrunner coming into Saturday’s game, showed his aptitude in the passing and running game was not limited to weaker opponents. Jackson was just as good, if not better, on his biggest stage to date. He accounted for five of the Cardinals’ touchdowns, including four rushing, and tallied 362 total yards in the victory. His 146 rushing yards marked his fifth consecutive game, dating back to last year, with 100 rushing yards.
“He’s pretty amazing,” coach Bobby Petrino said of Jackson. “He’s a great competitor, he did a great job throwing the ball and he knows how to run it a little bit, too. Really proud of how he prepared for the game, how he came here nice and relaxed and just went out and played.”
Lamar Jackson 5x better than what I was at V-Tech….Enough said!! #future
— Mike Vick (@MikeVick) September 17, 2016
But as good as Jackson was, it was the Louisville defense that really made an impression. The Cardinals stifled the Florida State offense, which managed 284 yards of total offense, though more than 100 of those yards came in fourth-quarter garbage time. Star running back Dalvin Cook, who also came in as a Heisman contender, had 16 carries for 54 yards. Quarterback Deondre Francois, who earned praise for his play in a second-half comeback against Ole Miss in the season opener, looked like an overmatched redshirt freshman as he completed 38.8 percent of his passes for 101 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
The Louisville offense swarmed to the ball on every possession. Francois was sacked four times and hurried countless more. The Cardinals forced a fumble and held the Seminoles to just 2-of-11 on third down. It was a complete performance all around.
Coming into the game, especially as the week progressed, there was a sense that Louisville might be able to sneak by Florida State, but the dominance by the Cardinals was absolutely stunning and has placed them firmly as the team to beat in the ACC, especially with Clemson’s struggles against FBS teams so far this season. The Cardinals and Tigers meet on Oct. 1.
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