LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Lamar Jackson has become a leading Heisman Trophy contender on a Louisville team that has risen to No. 3 in the nation. The tough part for the Cardinals, now, is to stay composed on the road to a possible league title and shot at a national championship.
“You know, it’s crazy but it isn’t anything to me,” Jackson said after the Cardinals’ 63-20 shellacking of Florida State, which fell 11 places to No. 13. “You have to stay humble. Stay humble and stay calm. Everything is calm to me.”
Louisville’s big Atlantic Coast Conference win, however, earned a seven-spot jump in the latest Associated Press Top 25 and has the Cardinals (3-0) in the title discussion. The ranking matches their Nov. 5, 2006 standing during Petrino’s first stint with the Cardinals.
“I couldn’t picture any of the wins and how it’s going right now,” running back Brandon Radcliff said. “We work so hard that I feel this is the way we wanted it and we planned to do it.”
Jackson meanwhile is at the top of the Heisman conversation following a stellar game against the Seminoles.
He collected five more touchdowns, four running, to raise his season total to 18. Jackson also completed 13 of 20 passes for 216 yards and ran 17 times for 146, including an impressive 47-yard TD run that led former Virginia Tech QB and NFL free agent Michael Vick to tweet that Jackson is better than he was at the same point in college.
Yet for all the praise and Heisman talk, the sophomore was pretty tough on himself afterward. Noting seven incompletions and an end-zone interception, he gave his performance a D and downplayed the speculation about the award given to the nation’s best player.
“I try not to pay attention to that,” Jackson said. “I try to keep that out of my mind. I’m not the type to get hyped. … I’m just chill.”
Petrino also suggested that the coaching staff will try to keep players’ egos in check during video sessions. Next up for Louisville is Saturday’s non-conference meeting at Marshall.
The Cardinals have lost four in a row to the Thundering Herd, which means they can’t look past them toward their next high-profile challenge on Oct. 1 at defending ACC champion Clemson. The Tigers (3-0) remained fifth after Saturday’s 59-0 rout of South Carolina State.
“We will be very critical, very hard on them and they need to be hard on themselves,” Petrino said. “You need to watch the video and see if you utilized your technique right. … We’ll go out and run and get right back into our normal routine.”
Normalcy might have new meaning with Louisville now a top-three team and on everybody’s radar. But running back Brandon Radcliff believes the same approach that got the Cardinals there will help them keep their lofty status in perspective.
Radcliff added, “we’re a serious football team and we’re not going to take anybody lightly.”