The Cards entered their game against Wake Forest Saturday night with a #6 ranking, the top offense in the nation, a top-10 ranked defense and Heisman front-runner at quarterback. They also lead college football in turnovers: a dubious stat which would come back to bite them for most of their 44-12 win.
A fumble by Louisville wide receiver Jaylen Smith on the first play of the game gave the Demon Deacons excellent field position which they turned into a field goal. The Cards would turn the ball over two more times in the first half, which Wake Forest would also convert to field goals. They would add another field goal to go up 12-0 in the second quarter.
Quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Louisville offense couldn’t respond with more than a field goal and they went into halftime down 12-3.
The Cards finally got some offense going halfway through the third quarter with a 55-yard touchdown run by running back Brandon Radcliff. But kicker Blanton Creque missed a 43 yard field goal that would have put them ahead, and they would enter the final quarter with the game very much in doubt.
The fourth quarter was all Louisville.
The Cards would finally gain the lead for the first time in the game with just over ten minutes left to go on a 7-yard Radcliff run. They then scored four more touchdowns to bury the Demon Deacons; another run by Radcliff, a two-yard pass from Jackson to receiver Cole Hikutini, a 31-yard interception return by cornerback Ronald Walker, and a two-yard run by running back Malik Williams.
In what was a rather pedestrian performance for Jackson, the Heisman frontrunner finished with 14 for 26 passing for 146 yards and a touchdown. He would also rush for only 153 yards on 22 carries and a fumble.
Jackson now has 46 total touchdowns passing and rushing on the season, one away from the ACC record set by Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson last year. Coming into this game, 114 FBS teams had not scored as many touchdowns as Jackson this season. He’s also on pace to join Watson as only the second ACC player to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in a season.
Radcliff would finish with 141 yards on 11 carries with three touchdowns. Wideout Traveon Samuel led the Cardinal receiving corps with 2 catches for 46 yards.
Defensively the Cards played a very good game, only allowing field goals with Wake Forest in good field position. They also caused two turnovers and blocked a kick. Safety Chucky Williams and linebacker Devonte Fields each had 9 tackles. Fields would also add three sacks.
Louisville has 24 turnovers on the year, continuing to lead the nation.
Today also saw three of the top-five teams; Clemson, Michigan and Washington; lose, which practically guarantees Louisville a spot in the top four of the College Football Playoff.
The Cards go on the road for the final time this regular season as they play Houston this Thursday, November 17.<