LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - UofL is 9-2 and with three weeks until the announcement, has the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy. Not a bad season.
However, Cards fans are distraught after that 36-10 loss at Houston on Thursday night. What is the damage assessment?
That loss did knock UofL out of the College Football Playoff conversation. However, UofL was in the College Football Playoff conversation. That alone was worth millions of dollars in free advertising. For the last three weeks, the Cards have been one of the hot topics. This is a program that in the early 1980s considered a move to what was then 1AA, and is now the Football Championship Subdivision.
Plus, a program that only had one player even receive a vote for the Heisman Trophy, Elvis Dumervil got nine third place votes in 2005, has had the favorite for the award for the last two months.
Yes, some of the luster did come off of Lamar's season Thursday night. Thankfully for him and his Heisman hopes, he was way out in front and he has another opportunity to impress the voters. They can fill out their ballots as early as Monday, November 21, but you have to figure most will wait until that final weekend. The deadline is 5 p.m. on Monday, December 5. The finalists will be announced on ESPN at 6 p.m. that day.
Lamar is a lock to be in the group invited to New York for the ceremony, and I think he's still the pick to win it. Who is in second? There are plenty of games left to play and many that will have an impact on the playoff, so the opportunity is there for someone to get into that conversation, however Lamar could slam the door with a big effort in the Cards regular season finale against Kentucky.
He had 186 yards rushing and two touchdowns against UK last season, and 130 passing and a score. The Cats rank 101st in the nation rush defense this season, giving up 216.3 yards per game.
The bottom line is that Jackson is doing something that only Tim Couch has done in the Commonwealth. Perform at a level that the college football commentators recognize and include him in the discussion among the best players in the game. The Heisman, it could be argued, is the most prestigious individual award in all of sports. There are so many different factors that go into the process, everything has to go just right for a player to win it.
In a year when UofL hosted ESPN College GameDay for the first time, and responded with a 63-20 win over then #2 Florida State, and has a chance to earn a bid to one of the major bowl games for just the fourth time in school history, it's hard to argue that this season is not among the most relevant in UofL lore. The Jackson Heisman hype only adds to it
We are a reactionary society. Every day provides the greatest this, the worst that. The sky is not falling. Yes, UK will come to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on a high. The Cats will be going bowling for the first time since the 2010 season. They would like nothing more than to pile it on, to hand UofL a second straight loss. Plus, with Bennie Snell and Boom Williams, they have as formidable a running back tandem as any team in the country. The Cards have a chance though, to make a final statement.
Win Saturday, and they will most likely be headed to the Orange Bowl. Not a bad consolation prize for a program that will have to wait a year for that collision with the national title.