No. 14 – Lamar Jackson and the Louisville Cardinals come off the board here, and the 2016 Heisman Winner is back to try and win his 2nd in a row. Louisville started 2016 looking like the best offense in college by far, scoring 70, 62, 63 and 59 in their first four weeks, including a 63-20 rout of Florida State. Lamar finished his Heisman campaign with 3500 yards in the air, 1600 on the ground and 51 total touchdowns.
Aside from Jackson, the final few weeks of their season weren’t ones to remember. They finished the season losing their final two games to Houston and Kentucky, before losing 29-9 to LSU in their bowl game. The strong points of the offense took a 180 degree turn in the final three games, and the offensive line forgot how to block for Jackson. His constant exit from the pocket doesn’t help the line, but they allowed the most sack yards in the nation. On top of the bad season, they graduated their three interior linemen and are banking on two freshmen to block the most agile quarterback in the country.
On the opposite side of the ball, Louisville is chalk full of experience. They are returning their top sack leader in James Hearns and potential All-American cornerback Jaire Alexander. Alexander finished 2016 with 5 interceptions and 40 total tackles. They will depend on him to stop the passing game of the ACC powerhouses.
Under Bobby Petrino, Louisville is bringing in the 6th best class in the ACC. The class is led by defensive backs CJ Avery and Russ Yeast who look to make an impact early on. Aside from those two, the Cardinals are expecting o-linemen Caleb Chandler and Mekhi Becton to make strides in camp and keep Jackson on his feet long enough to compete for an ACC championship.
Some key games for the Cardinals
Sep 16. – Louisville vs. Clemson – Louisville, KY
Oct. 21 – Louisville @ Florida State – Tallahassee, FL
Nov. 25 – Louisville @ Kentucky – Lexington, KY