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Houston knocks Louisville out of the Playoff race and sacks Lamar Jackson 11 times

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This thing was over in the second quarter.

NCAA Football: Louisville at Houston Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

What looked like an opportunity for No. 5 Louisville to make their case for the College Football Playoff against Houston quickly turned into a nightmare for the Cardinals. Lamar Jackson and the Louisville offense, which had been blowing teams out all season, was no match for the Houston defense.

The Cards were left off the board for the entire first half, but the same can’t be said for Houston’s offense. The Coogs got on the board quickly, thanks to Louisville’s fumble of the opening kickoff that set up Houston’s first score of the night. That 7-0 lead turned into 24-0 by the fourth quarter, and Tom Herman’s team ran away with the game from there.

Louisville first touchdown of the evening came in the third quarter, but even still, Houston held a seemingly insurmountable 31-7 lead. Let’s breakdown some of the key takeaways from Houston’s 36-10 win over Louisville, besides the obvious blowout.

Tom Herman’s coaching stock is now officially back up

The Houston head coach looked to be one of the biggest names in coaching after Houston’s 33-23 win over Oklahoma to open the 2016 season, but that faded a bit with Houston’s two losses to unranked Navy and SMU teams in October.

But with the upset win over Louisville, Herman’s team is shaping up to have a big 2016. Even with the two losses, the Cougars are now 9-2, and they still have a game against Memphis that could bring them to 10-2 on the year. Houston is also still alive in the American Athletic Conference race, but it needs Navy to lose to ECU and SMU to have a chance of getting the conference title.

With that, there’s also a chance to get into the Cotton Bowl this year, which is part of the Playoff’s New Year’s Six bowl games.

And let’s not forget — Herman is only in his second year. Don’t be surprised to see Herman among some big-name vacancies during the coaching carousel season this year.

Louisville is almost certainly out of the Playoff

Thanks to Louisville’s loss to Clemson, the Cardinals are very unlikely to play in the ACC title game. Even if they made it in thanks to a Wake Forest upset of Clemson, they’d still have to emerge as a two-loss champion with few big wins.

Before Thursday night’s game, Louisville still had a chance to make it into the Playoff, depending on who came out of the Big Ten and Pac-12 (presumably a Penn State champion, or a two-loss Pac-12 champ), and if the Playoff gave a spot to a Big 12 team.

But Thursday night was Louisville’s last shot to make a lasting impression on the committee, and clearly, the impression wasn’t a positive one. Now, Louisville will likely end up in the Orange Bowl, which is still a New Year’s Six game, but it’s obviously not where UL fans were hoping the Cards would end up.

Is the Heisman still Lamar Jackson’s?

This is an interesting question, given how we’re not used to Jackson having quiet nights such as the one he had against Houston. A big reason for this is Houston’s defensive line — Jackson was sacked 11 times, and the sophomore was pressured all night.

The good thing is, the quarterback has been so dominant all season long, that he’s created a good distance between himself and the remaining contenders.

Here’s a look at the Heisman odds per Bovada, before the game began:

  • Lamar Jackson (QB Louisville) 1/20 1/50
  • Jabrill Peppers (S Michigan) 12/1 12/1
  • Deshaun Watson (QB Clemson) 12/1 16/1
  • JT Barrett (QB Ohio State) 50/1 25/1
  • Jake Browning (QB Washington) 14/1 40/1

So with one game remaining for Louisville against Kentucky, the only real possibility of him not winning it is if he gets injured (we obviously pray this does not happen) or somehow, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson and Jabrill Peppers have outstanding performances in their next two games.

Long story short: Yes, Jackson can absolutely still win the Heisman, even after losing a couple games. Here’s a former Heisman QB who had some pretty bad losses and still won the award:

Jackson’s game against Houston obviously didn’t go the way he planned, but that definitely doesn’t put him out of the Heisman race whatsoever.