They did not start off too hot and they did not finish all that well, but in between, No. 4 Louisville took care of business in a 59-28 victory at Marshall on Saturday.
“They knew they had to win this game to make next week’s count,” Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino said afterwards in an interview on TheCrunchZone.com.
Some wondered with the matchup against No. 3 Clemson looming next Saturday in Death Valley, plus coming off the high of thrashing then No. 2 Florida State the week before, if the Cardinals would look past the Thundering Herd.
The answer was a little bit of both. After a slow start, Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals got things rolling with 28 points in the second quarter, followed by 17 more in the third, setting up this week’s showdown with Clemson – the fifth top 5 matchup all-time between ACC teams.
“I have been in (situations) before where we think about something else in the future and we ended up losing or something else like that. We were not having that,” Jackson said. “We went in there focused like we knew what we want to do. We wanted to win. We want to play Clemson and be undefeated just like them. We are here now.”
Yes they are, and both teams, the media and the country have anxiously been waiting for this ACC Showdown, which in all likelihood will decided who represents the Atlantic Division in the ACC Championship Game in December.
The Cardinals (4-0, 1-0 ACC) have the inside track given their 63-20 victory over Florida State last week. The Tigers play the Seminoles in Tallahassee, Florida on Oct. 29.
“I think we are excited for it. We feel like it is a great opportunity for us,” Petrino said. “Our guys have worked extremely hard for it and have put in a lot of effort and dedication to get here so let’s go play it.”
Jackson, who threw for a career-high 417 yards on 24 of 44 passing, said his team can now focus on Clemson. He says the Cardinals have been hearing all the hype and they are ready to play the Tigers in Death Valley.
“That is a great team we are playing against. We have to go out there and do the same thing, just like we have been doing,” the Cardinals’ quarterback said.
Louisville did not totally do what it has been doing. Marshall contained Jackson in the pocket on Saturday night and forced him to make plays with his arm instead of his legs. The Herd held him to just 62 yards on the ground, though he did run for two touchdowns.
However, Jackson accepted Marshall’s challenge and had his career night, which included five touchdown passes. A couple of times he found tight end Cole Hikutini for touchdowns, including a nice touch pass over Hikutini’s shoulder for a 36-yard score as he got behind the middle linebacker.
“They were trying to bracket our receivers and blitz me at the beginning of the game. Our line got with it and everyone knew what they were doing after that and we executed,” Jackson said.
“I let them know that I can throw the ball. That’s it,” he continued.
Jackson also let everyone know he and the Cardinals are ready for Clemson.
— Photo Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports