HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — No. 3 Louisville rocketed into the top 10 after pounding No. 13 Florida State and has a much-anticipated clash at No. 5 Clemson next week. Lamar Jackson is piling up more offense by himself than most FBS teams.
The Cardinals (3-0) are the talk of college football and they don’t want it to continue for the wrong reason if they can’t keep the domination going Saturday night at Marshall (1-1).
“Everything is just business as usual,” said Louisville coach Bobby Petrino. “We don’t have that many games left, particularly our senior class. So we’ve got to go out and take advantage of every time we get to go out on the field and play.”
Thanks to a point-a-minute offense led by Heisman Trophy candidate Jackson, Louisville has matched its highest ranking in school history. Now they’ll head east on Interstate 64 to play an underdog Marshall team that stumbled badly a week ago.
Jackson has 608 passing yards, 464 rushing and has thrown or run for 18 touchdowns. His performances have been eye-opening but he’s not an overnight star. He had a breakout game in the Music City Bowl in December against Texas A&M when he both threw and ran for more than 200 yards. Johnny Manziel and Vince Young were the only other quarterbacks to do that in a bowl game.
“I’ve just really enjoyed how much he’s improved, how hard he pushes himself, and how much he’s grown as a leader for our football team,” Petrino said.
Jackson said after last week’s 63-20 win over Florida State that he tries to stay humble and not give in to the attention. He has yet to give his individual performances a perfect grade.
“We’ve got to score every drive,” Jackson said. “That’s my goal. We haven’t done it yet.”
Jackson’s 459 yards of total offense per game are more than 87 other FBS teams. He’ll get plenty of opportunities to thrive against a Marshall secondary whose most experienced player has just five career starts.
“I’m not sure I’ve seen a quarterback like Jackson that takes over a game like he does,” said Marshall coach Doc Holliday. “That’s going to be a great challenge for us. Florida State’s got guys that can run, and he’s runs away from them.”
Marshall gave up 65 points and 524 yards last week to an Akron team that was a double-digit underdog.
Some other things to know about the matchup between schools 190 miles apart:
WEST VIRGINIA TIES: Louisville co-offensive coordinator Lonnie Galloway had two stints as wide receivers coach at West Virginia. During Galloway’s first stint from 2008-10, current Marshall coach Doc Holliday was West Virginia’s recruiting coordinator and associate head coach before leaving for Huntington in December 2009. Galloway was hired at Louisville just before the start of spring practice this year.
NOT JUST JACKSON: Louisville’s Brandon Radcliff is getting yards in chunks after a slow start in the season opener. Radcliff ran for 118 yards against Florida State and 156 yards against Syracuse, averaging more than 11 yards per carry over that stretch.
YELLOW HANKIE ALERT: Marshall was penalized 17 times for 180 yards against Akron and has 250 penalty yards through two games.
TALE OF TURNOVERS: Marshall scored two touchdowns on fumble returns in its opener against FCS Morgan State. Last week against Marshall , Akron returned a blocked punt, a fumble and an interception for scores.
SOLID IN SACKS: Louisville has 13 sacks spread out among eight players. James Hearns leads the way with 3.5. Devonte Fields, Jonathan Greenard and Josh Harvey-Clemons have two apiece.
Herd starting quarterback Chase Litton did not play with an undisclosed injury.
The Thundering Herd hits the road for the first time next Saturday night — at Pittsburgh at 7:30 p.m.
Louisville 59, Marshall 28
UL: 7-28-17-7 — 59
MU: 0-7-0-21 — 28