Louisville Football: 10 reasons to be optimistic about the Cards’ playoff chances

We take a look at ten reasons why Louisville football fans should be optimistic about their teams’ chances of making the playoffs.

I think we all can admit that we were pretty disappointed that the Louisville football team came in at number five in the Week 12 College Football Playoff poll. The Cardinals only have two games left this season to prove their worth, but I don’t believe that all hope is lost.

There are going to be a lot of different opinions that you will hear or read over the next few weeks and some will revolve around Louisville still having a shot at the ACC Championship.

This is what CBS Sports had to say about Louisville’s playoff chances this season:

“I just have to believe that the only way Louisville reaches the playoff is if Clemson loses to Wake Forest this weekend, because it has no shot of getting in unless it wins the ACC. This is a Louisville team with a 43-point win over Florida State, and the most exciting player on the planet in Lamar Jackson, but it won’t have the resume it needs to get past not being the ACC champion.

Beating Houston this week would help matters a bit, but Houston’s stock has taken a hit in recent weeks as well, and right now Louisville’s second best win is probably Duke. That’s simply not enough to get the job done.

In other words, Wake Forest is going to have more fans than it’s ever had before this weekend.”

While I don’t believe that is Louisville’s only option of getting in, I do believe that is their easiest route of getting in.

With that being said, here are 10 reasons why you should be optimistic about Louisville’s playoff hopes:

Nov 12, 2016; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) tries to avoid the tackle of Wake Forest Demon Deacons defensive back Jessie Bates (3) during the second half at Papa John

10. Lamar Jackson

When you have the Heisman front-runner on your football team, people are going to take notice. It has been widely talked about that Lamar Jackson may be the Louisville’s best “card” in their deck and it sounds like he may be just what they need to pass the eye-test.

At the same time, it’s very difficult to determine which teams look great in the committee’s eyes. Louisville has the best loss of any team in the top six teams, but they don’t have more than one solid win this season.

We can only hope that Lamar Jackson is what’s going to make the biggest difference for the committee. If nothing else, Jackson is going to be one of the biggest reasons why Louisville can blow their next two opponents out of the water.

Yes, the Houston game is going to be tough, but Lamar Jackson should give you the upmost confidence in the Cards’ chances of finishing 11-1.

Nov 5, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Louisville Cardinals wide receiver James Quick (17) is picked up by offensive lineman Geron Christian (74) after scoring a touchdown during the first quarter against the Boston College Eagles at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

9. Louisville has moved up in the rankings every week

I know that it’s really hard to wait all week, to only be disappointed by the committee’s decision to keep Louisville out of the top four. At the same time, it should encourage you that Louisville came in at five this week, even with three of the top four teams losing.

There is still a lot of football left to be played this season and Louisville is right in it. Not to mention, we would be feeling a little different if the Cards stayed at six.

I truly believe that the committee likes Louisville, but is waiting to see one of the two Big Ten teams fall- we will get to that later in this article.

Again, it’s a great sign that Louisville keeps moving up in each poll. Don’t panic just yet, these rankings aren’t set in stone.

Nov 5, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Louisville Cardinals head coach Bobby Petrino on the side line during the second quarter against the Boston College Eagles at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

8. These rankings are not final

We all have to keep remembering that the final College Football Playoff poll will not be released until after the conference championships. This means that every week when the poll is released that we don’t need to overreact too much.

Yes, we can all complain and be ticked off, but Louisville isn’t out of this thing just yet. Like we discussed, they have moved up every week, despite their “close wins”.

It can be easy to become disappointed and feel like all is lost, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Louisville has an extremely solid chance of finishing 11-1 this season and staying right in the mix.

They only need a few specific teams to go down for them to sneak into the playoffs.

Remember, these rankings aren’t final, don’t let it ruin your week.

Nov 12, 2016; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers linebacker Dorian O

7. The ACC Championship game is still on the table

The Clemson Tigers will play their last conference game of this season this weekend in Wake Forest. Not to mention, they will be playing for an opportunity to go to the ACC Championship game next month.

At the same time, we all saw how well that Demon Deacons’ defense played against Louisville last Saturday. This is going to be a game where Clemson needs to be focused and not come in lazy. If they do, Dabo Swinney could have a monumental loss on his hands.

At the same time, the chances of Wake Forest beating Clemson are very thin. Anything can happen, but that’s why this point is number seven.

However, If the Tigers do get beat, then Louisville will be heading to the ACC Championship for a chance at punching their tickets to the College Football Playoff.

Oct 29, 2016; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook (4) outruns Clemson linebacker Korrin Wiggins (15) at Doak Campbell Stadium. Clemson won 37-34. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

6. Florida State continues to climb in the polls

The main thing that everyone wants to blame Louisville for is their lack of a strength of schedule. While I would argue that’s not their fault, it is something that the committee is going to seriously take into consideration. This is why Florida State climbing in the polls is so important.

The Cardinals destroyed the Seminoles early in the season, however FSU is starting to gain some momentum over this past month. They are currently ranked 17th and have a great opportunity to keep moving up after upcoming games against Syracuse and Florida.

Nothing but good things can come out of the Seminoles getting on a roll and it looks like that’s exactly what they are doing.

I don’t think they can get into the top 10 by season’s end, but top 15 or top 13 is a definite possibility, which would seriously help the Cards.

Nov 12, 2016; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals safety Chucky Williams (22) congratulates linebacker Devonte Fields (92) for a sack against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during the second half at Papa John

5. One final opportunity to make a statement game on a National stage

No one wants to talk about how huge this game is for both teams on Thursday night in Houston. The Cougars are currently not ranked, but they are 8-2 and looking to take down Lamar Jackson and Louisville football’s 2016 playoff hopes.

In reality, we could not have asked for a better opportunity for the Cardinals to make their statement in front of the country on Thursday night. An ESPN game at night is going to get a ton of attention, especially when Lamar Jackson only has two regular season games left before he wins the Heisman.

All eyes will be on Louisville and they will need to play extremely well to impress the committee. If they come out and demolish the Cougars on their field, the “eye-test” will be something that Louisville will have passed going into the last week of the season.

Nov 12, 2016; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Dare Ogunbowale (23) rushes with the football during the second quarter against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

4. Wisconsin didn’t move at all this week in the rankings

I was kind of surprised to see that Washington came into the polls ahead of a Wisconsin team that is heading towards the conference championship game. The Badgers will be playing either Penn State or Michigan in the Big Ten’s championship, but will have a tough time beating either opponent.

The only way that Wisconsin would get into the playoff is if they won the conference championship convincingly. Their two biggest wins of the season are against #16 LSU and #18 Nebraska, however they do only have a six point win over Georgia Southern in September. Who said close wins don’t matter?

Louisville fans should have been worried if the Badgers moved to six because then the chances of Wisconsin making the playoffs as a two-loss, conference champion would be much larger.

However, it seems as though Louisville and Washington are blocking their path.

Nov 12, 2016; Bloomington, IN, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Trace McSorley (9) hands the ball off to Penn State Nittany Lions running back Saquon Barkley (26) during the second half at Memorial Stadium. The Penn State Nittany Lions defeated the Indiana Hoosiers 45-31. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

3. Injuries are mounting for Penn State

The 12 game college football season is a grueling one, especially when it comes to players getting injured. Penn State’s offensive line is getting thinner every single week due to injuries and that is going to hurt their chances going forward.

This is what Yahoo Sports had to say about the issue:

With that said, the team’s offensive line health will play a fairly big role in its success moving forward. There were struggles against Indiana with Saquon Barkley rushing for just 60 yards on 33 carries, but he did manage to reach the end zone twice in the fourth quarter to help PSU notch a comeback win.

This is yet another team that Louisville should be concerned with behind them, but Penn State might not have enough depth on their line to keep their rushing attack going at this hot pace. Just like Wisconsin, they only way they have a percent of a chance to make the playoff is if they win their conference championship.

I promise you that they won’t if their offensive line is as in bad shape as they say it is.

Nov 12, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Washington Huskies running back Myles Gaskin (9) takes the hand off from Washington Huskies quarterback Jake Browning (3) during the second quarter against the USC Trojans at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

2. Washington’s tough schedule to finish the season

The Huskies dropped their first game of the season to USC last weekend, which dropped them out of the top four teams. It was interesting that the committee still had them at number six, which showed that they still believe in the Huskies’ ability to get into the top four with a conference championship.

That could mean bad news for Louisville, but I don’t think they will win the rest of their games. If they get one more loss, then season over for Washington.

The Huskies still have to play Arizona State, at #22 Washington State, then either #10 Colorado, #12 Utah, or #13 USC in the conference championship.

Good luck Washington, but that will be too much for that Huskies team to handle.

Nov 28, 2015; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes running back Jalin Marshall (7) makes a reception for a touchdown defended by Michigan Wolverines safety Jeremy Clark (34) in the third quarter at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

1. #3 Michigan and #2 Ohio State still have to play this season

The best thing that Louisville still has going in their favor is that these two top three teams have to play each other in the last week. Louisville needs Michigan to go into Columbus and come out with the victory. If that happens, then Penn State and Ohio State will pretty much be eliminated from the College Football Playoff race.

Michigan hasn’t been able to beat the Buckeyes in a while, but a different outcome may be coming in a few weeks. The Wolverines’ defense is very good and could definitely shut down JT Barrett in his own stadium.

Again, Louisville needs Michigan to win so that it knocks out the Buckeyes and Penn State. Then there would be no way that the committee would consider a two-loss team that wasn’t a conference champion from the Big Ten.

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