Louisville (9-1) at Houston (8-2)
When: Thursday, November 17th 2016
Where: TDECU Stadium, Houston, TX
Time: 8:00 ET | TV: ESPN
The Louisville Cardinals’ bid to reach the College Football Playoffs are still alive after last weekend’s string of upsets around the country and it will try to impress the committee with a road victory Thursday at the Houston Cougars. Michigan, Washington, and Clemson all lost last weekend as heavy favorites, opening the door for the Cardinals to move up to No. 5 in the CFP rankings. Louisville almost joined the carnage last week with a lackluster effort against Wake Forest, but erupted for 34 fourth quarter points in the 44-12 win on Saturday. Quarterback Lamar Jackson continues to break records and last week he broke Teddy Bridgewater’s single-season school record of 4,048 offensive yards and tying another single-season school mark with his seventh 100-yard rushing effort. He was limited to season lows in total yards (298) and touchdowns, but senior running back Brandon Radcliff picked up the slack with a career-high three TDs and rushed for 141 yards, giving the Cardinals a pair of 100-yard rushers in the same game for a school-record third time this season. On defense, Devonte Fields matched a personal best with three sacks Saturday, while fellow linebacker James Hearns added a career-high two of Louisville’s season-high seven sacks.
The Cougars were on track to be one of the teams vying for a playoff spot before slipping up at Navy in early October and then again two weeks later at SMU, but have rebounded with two straight victories. Houston started the season off by upsetting Oklahoma, a team that has only lost one game since. The Cougars have won 14 straight home games by an average of almost 20 points per contest. Quarterback Greg Ward Jr. joined Case Keenum (20,114) and Kevin Kolb (13,715) as the only players in school history to accumulate 10,000 yards of total offense after last week’s win over Tulane. He also moved into a second-place tie with Kolb (26) for the most wins by a Cougars quarterback. Junior wide receiver Linell Bonner caught nine passes for 97 yards Saturday, marking the fifth time this season he has managed at least eight receptions and 97 yards in the same game. The country’s ninth-ranked defense is led by freshman defensive tackle Ed Oliver, who recorded his sixth pass breakup while adding 1.5 tackles for loss to give him 16.5 for the season in last week’s game. Houston is ranked third in the nation in rushing defense, giving up just 92.8 yards a contest, but will be tested Thursday against Jackson.
Houston hasn’t been overly impressive since their Week 1 upset of Oklahoma, but they have won 14 in a row at home. Louisville will look to impress the committee in this one, but I think the Cougars can hang tough with the Cardinals in this one. Louisville has the better team, but this is a dangerous game for them. I’ll take the points.
Pick: Houston +14