CRAWFORD | Monday Morning Quarterback: Watching the scoreboard e - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Monday Morning Quarterback: Watching the scoreboard edition

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It was a bye week for the University of Louisville football team -- but not a week devoid of news. For the University of Kentucky, it was the beginning of a friendly path to six victories and a bowl game, if the Wildcats can take advantage. For WKU and Indiana, conference front-runners proved stumbling blocks. The Monday Morning Quarterback took it all in from the couch -- but is ready with the snap count.

RED 46: Number of points Navy hung on No. 6 Houston in its 46-40 upset of the Cougars on Saturday, putting Houston’s hopes for a College Football Playoff hopes in the deep freeze and dealing a blow to Louisville’s hopes in the process. The Cardinals play at Houston on Nov. 17. Louisville needed that to be a high-profile game with playoff implications. It may still carry some playoff implications for the Cardinals, but now they need more help than they did before. For Navy, it was the first win over a Top 10 team in 32 years. Midshipmen at Annapolis not only got the Columbus Day holiday off, but were given Tuesday off, too.

BLUE 1: Number of offensive touchdowns Kentucky has allowed in its past two home games -- victories over South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

BLUE 300: Here’s the magic number that shows defensive improvement at Kentucky. The Wildcats gave up 500-plus yards in each of their first three games. (And they gave up 488 to Alabama, but I’m tossing that game.) The games UK has to focus on are the winnable SEC contests on its schedule. It now has had two -- at home against South Carolina and Vanderbilt. In each of those games, it gave up less than 300 yards of offense, a trend it will look to continue against Mississippi State a week from Saturday. The Bulldogs are not a good team, but they’re better than South Carolina and Vanderbilt. If the Wildcats can continue that defensive trend, they should again find themselves in position to go bowling. And again they’ll just have to figure out a way to take advantage of it.

CRIMSON 11: The Hoosiers played Ohio State as tough as anyone has in their 38-17 loss in Columbus on Saturday. Sophomore wideout Nick Westbrook now ranks 11th nationally in yards per reception at 21.9. Teammate Ricky Jones, a senior wide receiver, is right behind him at No. 12 at 21.7 yards per catch. The two have combined for five TD catches.

RED 52: Number of points scored by WKU against Louisiana Tech Saturday -- but it wasn’t enough. Give the Hilltoppers credit for the comeback. They were down 52-31 entering the fourth quarter, but couldn’t quite get even. Quarterback Mike White was sacked and fumbled at the WKU 21 on the first play of the Hilltoppers’ final possession, or they would’ve had a shot to win or tie. WKU is banged up on defense in badly in need of an off week. It won’t get one. Conference power Middle Tennessee awaits this week.

HIKE, HIKE: Kentucky’s hopes for bowl eligibility after a pair of much better defensive performances against South Carolina and Vanderbilt -- and a much tougher showing against Alabama than it showed a couple of weeks prior at Florida. There’s still no margin for error for the Wildcats however. They get a much-needed bye week this week, then face Mississippi State. That’s a must-win, as is an SEC road game at Missouri and a home game against Austin Peay. Win those, and coach Mark Stoops can get to his first postseason at Kentucky. Lose any one of them, and the path becomes thorny.

FIRST AND 14: Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson took the week off -- and still leads the nation in rushing touchdowns, though BYU senior running back Jamaal Williams did rush for a pair of touchdowns against Michigan State to become the second player in the nation to rush for double-digit touchdowns, with 10. Jackson has carried for 14.

SECOND AND SEVEN: The Cardinals hold at No. 7 for a second straight week in the AP Top 25. They were jumped by Texas A&M, which knocked off Tennessee in overtime. Trivia: The last team to beat Texas A&M? Louisville did it in last season’s Music City Bowl. Lamar Jackson ran for 227 yards and passed for 226. He threw for two TDs and ran for two. Houston, which was No. 6, dropped to No. 13. Florida State climbed back up to No. 14. Miami fell to No. 16.

PLAYOFF PICTURE: The first look has to be at U of L’s playoff possibilities. Houston’s loss dealt them a serious blow. And Washington’s emergence as a power in the Pac-12, the Huskies beat Oregon 70-12 late Saturday, doesn’t help. On the plus side for Louisville, Florida State’s win at Miami was a double-win. It keeps the Hurricanes from becoming a second ACC threat while keeping Florida State in the national rankings, given that the Seminoles will be the Cards’ most impressive win heading into the first College Football Playoff rankings. At this point, to me, it looks like all the Cardinals can do is win and hope. And style points, though the committee says they don’t matter, are going to matter. The Cards can’t afford to have a down week.

TV TIME: The ACC and ESPN have set the kickoff for Louisville’s Oct. 22 game against N.C. State -- the school’s Homecoming Game -- at noon. The game will air on ESPN or ESPN2.

FOOTBALL BENNY: In a twist on one of basketball coach John Calipari’s favorite phrases, “Basketball Benny,” Kentucky football freshman Benny Snell is making an impact. The running back carried a career-high 20 times for 94 net yards against Vanderbilt, including 44 yards on eight carries in UK’s last drive of the game. He’s becoming more of a fixture for the Wildcats, whose offensive identity as a running team is beginning to take hold.

BAGGAGE CLAIM -- LOST DEFENSE: It’s beginning to look like Texas did not pack its defense this season -- or that it at least got lost at the airport. Count me among those who never thought he would see a Charlie Strong-coached team rank 115th in the nation in total defense, yet that’s where Texas stands after giving up 672 yards in a loss to Oklahoma on Saturday. The Longhorns are surrendering 477.2 yards per game, and only three teams in Power 5 conferences are worse.

PHOTO BOMB: They played football anyway at N.C. State on Saturday, despite the game being blown and drenched by the outer stretches of Hurricane Mitchell. The pictures were fun, even if the game wasn’t always (Associated Press photo) . . . 

GAME BALLS: Indiana junior linebacker Tegray Scales had his third straight double-digit tackling game at Ohio State (10 tackles, 7 unassisted) to hold the Buckeyes to 93 passing yards despite the loss. The Hoosier defense allowed IU to stick with Ohio State for three quarters. Freshman cornerback A’Shon Riggins, making his first career start, snagged an interception and returned it 31 yards to the Ohio State 13 in the fourth quarter. WKU quarterback Mike White threw for 340 yards and five touchdowns without an interception in the loss to Louisiana Tech. And UK’s Benny Snell rushed for 94 yards and the Wildcats got great games from a pair of sophomore defensive end/linebackers: Josh Allen and Denzil Ware. Both had six tackles. Allen had 1.5 sacks and a quarterback hurry. Ware had 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.

VEGAS SAYS: Louisville is a 34-point favorite at home over Duke (the Cards opened as 28-point favorites). Indiana opened as an 8-point underdog to unbeaten Nebraska, but now is a 5-point underdog. WKU is a 2-point underdog at Middle Tennessee.

THE PICKS: Louisville by 38 over Duke. Nebraska by 3 over Indiana. Middle Tennessee by 7 over WKU.

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