Jackson needs to keep breaking records to get Louisville to playoffs

Following the disappointing loss to Clemson, University of Louisville football fans are left to ponder the chances of UofL still making it to college football’s championship playoffs. Their hopes hinge heavily on the popularity of sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Lamar Jackson rewriting NCAA record books. (Cindy Rice Shelton photo)
Lamar Jackson rewriting NCAA record books. (Cindy Rice Shelton photo)

Right now, Louisville’s best shot for a playoff shot would be for Jackson and the Cardinals to take down an unbeaten Houston when the teams clash in Houston on Nov. 17. The college football world is hoping that happens because serious football fans want to see as much of Jackson as possible.

Jackson is on pace to become the first player in Football Bowl Subdivision history with 6,000 yards of total offense in a season, according to Kelly Dickey, UofL sports junky. The record is 5,976 yards.

Most fans would concede, however, that the odds getting to the playoffs are not great, not with nine undefeated teams in the top 10 of the Associated Press. Seventh-ranked UofL is the only team in that group not undefeated  after the first five weeks.

Louisville was so close to still being in that group, one yard from a first down, two yards from a game-winning touchdown with less than 40 seconds remaining in the game.

Like William Gay getting flagged for being offside on that failed Rutgers field goal attempt back in 2006, the memory of James Quick going down so easily a yard short a first down is going to stick with UofL fans for a long, long time.

While it’s true that one play or one player may not necessarily be responsible for losing a game, it can’t be denied that had a single play turned out differently that Louisville would be considered an odds-on favorite to make the playoffs this season.

UofL is going to need a lot of help to get there.  Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson are 1, 2, 3, respectively. Other traditional big-time programs like Michigan, Tennessee and Texas A&M, as well as Washington and Houston are serious contenders for one of the four playoff spots.

NCAA football betting odds for the slots are all over the place but at least one  source has Alabama and Ohio State at 5-2 odds, Clemson and Washington at 7-1, Houston and Louisville at 8-1, Michigan at 12-1 and Miami, Tennessee and Texas A&M at 20-1.

Forget about UofL getting to the ACC championship game. There’s just no way Clemson loses two more conference games. Louisville has to get back on the winning track and stay there, taking care of business against Houston and in the final home game against Kentucky.

Equally, if not more, important, Jackson must continue his record breaking pace. Along with that comes an immediate ratings boost for any network in a game in which he is involved.

He’s currently averaging 300.8 yards of total offense per game in his career, according to Dickey. He says Jackson is currently on pace to break the NCAA record of 63 total touchdowns in a season with 4:17 left in the second quarter vs. Kentucky on Nov. 26.

Author: Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.