It was the first top-10 matchup in college football this season and the biggest game in the history of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, and the #10 Louisville Cardinals rose to the challenge with a 63-20 victory over the #2 Florida State Seminoles. It was the most points the Seminoles had ever given up to any opponent.
With the ESPN College Gameday crew watching and Louisville legend Muhammad Ali honored before the game, the Cards got off to a fast start for the third week in a row. They drove 75 yards in six plays capped off by a two-yard touchdown run by quarterback Lamar Jackson in just under two minutes.
And they never really let up after that.
Jackson would put up three more touchdowns in the opening half, two on the ground and a four-yard pass to sophomore receiver Jaylen Smith. Junior running back Jeremy Smith added another two-yard touchdown run to put the Cards up 35-10 going into halftime.
Louisville was successful in the first half, but all eyes were on the last two quarters when the Seminoles had traditionally dominated games, including their last two matchups against the Cards.
Louisville opened up the second half like they had most other quarters this season, but this time on special teams. After FSU’s opening drive ended with a punt, sophomore returner Jaire Alexander ran the kick back 69 yards for a touchdown. It was the first Louisville touchdown on a punt return since 2010.
Jackson proved he was human with an endzone interception late in the third quarter, only his second of the season. But he added to his legend and Heisman resume with a 47-yard touchdown run early in the fourth before sitting down for good.
Jackson finished with 146 yards and four scores on the ground, while completing 13 of his 20 passes for 216 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He has 18 total touchdowns on the season.
Louisville was dominant on the ground, running for a total of 314 yards and seven touchdowns. Jeremy Smith had two rushing touchdowns, while senior back Brandon Radcliff also ran for 118 yards on 14 carries with a touchdown.
In addition to the Jaylen Smith touchdown, the Louisville receiving corps totaled 216 yards through the air, senior wideout James Quick led the Cards with seven catches for 122 yards.
The Louisville defense came up big as well. They kept Florida State to 284 total yards. They contained the Seminole rushing attack to 171 yards and no touchdowns. Star FSU rusher Dalvin Cook, who had torched the Cards in his last two games against them, was held to only 54 yards on 16 carries. They also sacked the quarterback five times with one interception and a fumble recovery. Senior safety Josh Harvey-Clemons led all Louisville defenders with eight tackles.
The Cards will take their probable top-5 ranking back on the road against Marshall on Saturday, September 24.<