BOZICH | Louisville, Indiana WKU make pitches for ESPN's GameDay
Louisville, Indiana and Western Kentucky won their season-openers by a combined margin of 109 points, with multiple players delivering performances that put them in the national rankings.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Ten quick takes on the dazzling season-opening victories by Louisville, Indiana and Western Kentucky.
Those three programs will join the winner of the Alabama-USC game in the college football playoff in January.
Smile. Enjoy being 1-0 everybody.
As Lee Corso would recommend: Stop and take a snapshot of the following numbers and stats from Opening Night. I'm having a little fun here.
But ... if this keeps up maybe ESPN will bring College GameDay here for Florida State's visit to Papa John's Cardinals Stadium Sept. 17. They've never visited U of L for football. An appearance is overdue. The competition that day is considerable:
There is Number One Alabama at Ole Miss, ranked 11th.
There is No. 12 Michigan State at Notre Dame, No. 10.
There is Ohio State, No. 6, at Oklahoma, No. 3.
There is USC (20) at Stanford (8).
Or maybe WKU will earn some deserved bonus national coverage at Alabama Sept. 10. Or maybe Indiana and Michigan State will both be unbeaten when the Hoosiers open Big Ten play in Bloomington Oct. 1, for IU's Big Ten opener.
You never know.
Time for the Ten Quick Takes:
1. The Cardinals, Hoosiers and Hilltoppers won by a combined margin of 109 points, led by Louisville’s 70-14 dismantling of Charlotte at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium Thursday night.
All three teams easily covered the point spreads.
Hold it. Just checking to see if Louisville just scored another touchdown.
2. Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson leads the nation in passing touchdowns (6, which is already half his season total from last season) and passer rating (264.5). Even better news: No picks. Jackson had eight of those in 2015.
Did Jackson grab an early seat at the Heisman Hype table?
Yes, he did. Yes, the opponent was Charlotte, but yes, you should remember that Jackson did nearly the same thing to Texas A&M in the Music City Bowl last December. His highlights were all over the sports networks and social media Thursday night. America knows Lamar Jackson.
3. Western Kentucky quarterback Mike White leads the nation in passing yards (517). He also ranks second in completion percentage (80.6). White looked prepared to handle the Brandon Doughty comparisons while leading WKU past Rice, 46-14, in Bowling Green.
I believe the data is clearly trending in the direction that Jeff Brohm knows offense and how to coach quarterbacks. In the 11 games that White played at South Florida in 2014, he failed to pass for more than 272 yards in any game and barely completed half his throws. Against Rice, White looked capable of tilting the scoreboard.
4. Back to Jackson, three words that we’re going to say often this season. He also ran for 119 yards, which ranks seventh nationally but makes Jackson the only quarterback who ranks in the top 15 in rushing in the abbreviated start of the season.
Yes, it's early. But if you watch Jackson move, you understand that the comparisons to Johnny Manziel, Michael Vick and other dual-threat guys are already heating up. He's the best runner I've seen at Louisville since Michael Bush.
5. Devine Redding, Indiana’s junior halfback crackled for 135 yards, his fourth straight 100-yard rushing game. In those four games, against Maryland, Purdue, Duke and Florida International, Redding has averaged 159 yards.
Redding appears primed to continue Kevin Wilson’s impressive development of running backs that started with Tevin Coleman and continued with Jordan Howard. Dan Feeney, IU's all-American right guard, leads another solid offensive line at Indiana.
6. Former Pleasure Ridge Park star Taywan Taylor remains unstoppable for Western Kentucky. Credit Taylor with five catches for 165 yards. That leads the nation in receiving yards. Not bad for a two-star recruit.
7. The Cardinals (first), Hilltoppers (second) and Hoosiers (ninth) all rank in the top 10 nationally in total yardage. U of L’s 663-yard performance put the Cardinals 14 yards ahead of Jeff Brohm’s WKU team. Indiana settled for 486 as it took three quarters for Richard Lagow to settle in at quarterback.
Offense wins. Of course, so does defense. But offense entertains and wins.
8. Running the football against Louisville has been daunting for the last three seasons and Charlotte found mostly heartburn trying to pound the ball against the Cardinals. Louisville’s defense limited Charlotte to 48 rushing yards. Only Connecticut (40) and Central Michigan (44) delivered better numbers.
Yes, the opponent was Charlotte. But, yes, the 49ers averaged 163 yards per game rushing last season.
9. Remember this name: Tom Allen. He’s the new defensive coordinator at Indiana, a guy the Hoosiers were fortunate to land after he finished runner-up to become the coordinator at Auburn last January.
Indiana intercepted three passes and returned two for touchdowns in IU’s 34-13 win at FIU. Cornerback Rashard Fant scored Indiana’s first touchdown with a 34-yard pick six and linebacker Tegray Scales ended the scoring by flashing 16 yards for a score with his interception. FIU scored 22 against IU in Bloomington last season. That's progress the Hoosiers have been waiting for since ... well, a long time.
10. Louisville climbed to No. 11 in ESPN’s football power index, bumping its expected season win total from 8.7 to 9.3. (I'm sticking with 10-2.) The Hilltoppers are ranked 50th with Indiana sitting at 67. WKU is predicted to win 9.6 games, the Hoosiers 5.6.
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