Louisville wins by double digits, criticized for missed opportunity

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Louisville could have made a bit of a statement Thursday night at home. through no fault of their own, the conference strength in the American Athletic Conference will continue to hold Louisville back when being compared to other teams in the BCS Championship conversation. Maybe the Cardinals would not have been on par with a team like Alabama or Oregon, but what about against a top one-loss team from another power conference or a team like Ohio State. Despite Teddy Bridgewater throwing his 10th career 300-yard game and Louisville topping Rutgers 24-10, the conversation is already focused on what Louisville lacks to be a title contender.

To be fair, there was room for criticism of Louisville Thursday night. The Cardinals had three turnovers on the night, but the defense came up with four turnovers of their own to break even in the turnover margin. Louisville left some points on the scoreboard, having one field goal blocked and missing another long attempt and losing a fumble when Bridgewater was blind sided. It was not the kind of night that a casual college football fan would tune in, watch and go to bed thinking “Man, that Louisville team is awesome.”

That depends on your definition of “awesome.”

One part of the team that shined for Louisville that shined in the national spotlight was the defense. The Cardinals picked off four passes from Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova and sacked him eight times. But the skeptics of Louisville will also note the Scarlet Knights are coming off a short week after playing an overtime game at SMU on Saturday and again hitting the road to play at Louisville. Make no mistake about this though, Louisville can play defense and their numbers are only partially influenced by the level of competition faced.

But here’s something to consider. Great teams will win games even when they are not their sharpest. On Thursday night, that is what Louisville did without their leading wide receiver and while losing another. The offense made mistakes and the special teams had some unfortunate moments, but the defense bailed them out time and time again. Great teams do that.

Is Louisville a great team? That depends on your definition of “great.”

The biggest obstacle for Louisville now may be convincing the voters to evaluate them the way teams in tougher conferences will be addressed. Does Louisville have a chance to play for a BCS title? It is still too early to even entertain that conversation because there are so many variables still left to solve. How many undefeated teams will there be? Who will the top one-loss teams be? Not quite at mid-October, these questions will have to be sorted out before even attempting to figure out how Louisville fits in to the equation.

The challenge for Louisville will be to continue winning games, and doing so by solid winning margins.

Next week Louisville will host another top threat inside the American when Central Florida visits. The Knights already have a win at Penn State and a close loss to South carolina behind them. Central Florida, on paper, is much more battle-tested than Louisville at this point. If Louisville can survive a threat from Central Florida, the Cardinals could very well be on their way to the first undefeated season in school history.

After that, we’ll let the BCS formula solve for “L.”

NC State adds Division 2 graduate transfer kicker

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It’s possible Dave Doeren‘s life would feel completely different right now if he had a better kicker in 2016.

In this reality, Doeren is 25-26 after four seasons in Raleigh, coming off back-to-back 7-6 seasons following his 8-5 breakthrough of 2014. But if his Wolfpack could kick last year, Doeren is most likely riding high after an 8-4 regular season buoyed by a win over Clemson in Death Valley. Because not only did NC State lose that game on a late field goal whiff, the Pack also suffered a 33-30 loss to East Carolina in which it endured two missed field goals.

NC State’s two kickers combined to hit only 9-of-17 tries last fall, good for 121st nationally, and ranked 104th with a 93.3 percent conversion rate on 45 extra points. And the situation wasn’t getting better this spring.

To rectify that situation, NC State announced the addition of kicker Carson Wise. A graduate transfer from Division II Carson-Newman, Wise will have two years of availability for the Wolfpack.

Wise connected on 21-of-31 field goals and 97-of-101 PATs last season, numbers that, on their face, do not represent massive changes from what NC State posted last season. But Doeren is banking on Wise as a solution for NC State in 2017.

“I’m excited to have Carson join the family,” Doeren said in a statement. “He is a talented player who should be a great addition to our special teams as we look for him to handle our field goal and kickoff duties this fall.”

Arkansas House votes to exempt sporting venues from expanded gun law

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Remember how we talked about it’s impossible to follow sports and ignore politics? Not long after John Swofford released a statement on how a North Carolina law would effect ACC sporting events, the Arkansas legislature passed a bill that will do the same in the SEC.

The Arkansas House voted 71-20 to allow its state colleges and universities to exempt themselves from a law that greatly expands venues permitting concealed-carry handguns. Until the passing of SB724 today, guns would have been permissible inside Razorback Stadium, among other places.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey released a statement earlier this week urging state lawmakers to remove sporting venues from the bill. “HB 1249 creates concerns for the Southeastern Conference and its member institutions,” he said. “It remains our collective desire to provide a safe environment for student-athletes, coaches, officials and fans, and will continue to closely monitor the status of this legislation.”

Passing the bill was made more complicated by the involvement of the NRA, according to Rep. Jimmy Gateway.

The bill must now head back to the Senate before it can receive final approval from Governor Asa Hutchinson.

John Swofford releases statement on North Carolina repeal of HB2

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It’s pretty much impossible to keep politics out of the sports page today. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey was forced to release a statement on Tuesday urging Arkansas state legislators to exempt Razorbacks sporting venues from a bill that would greatly expand areas allowing concealed-carry handguns, and now ACC commissioner John Swofford has been forced to wade back into political waters.

North Carolina’s state legislature brokered a deal Thursday with new governor Roy Cooper to repeal House Bill 2, the controversial law requiring persons within Tar Heel state borders to use public bathrooms matching their gender at birth. The “bathroom bill” cost the state a reported $3.76 billion in revenue, and some of that lost revenue related directly to college football.

Following the NCAA’s lead of revoking the state’s championship event hosting privileges due to HB2, the ACC moved its football championship game from Charlotte to Orlando (the men’s basketball tournament was previously booked for Brooklyn), a move that cost the conference itself money as well.

Thursday’s repeal of HB2 is more complicated than simply yanking the bathroom bill (this is where I’ll direct you to a much more appropriate place to digest the political news of the hour than a college football blog) and, as such, Swofford’s statement is appropriately nuanced.

The ACC is still undecided where this December’s title game will be played, and Swofford will kick that decision upstairs to the league’s presidents.

Oklahoma OL Christian Daimler to pursue graduate transfer

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Oklahoma offensive tackle Christian Daimler will pursue a transfer, according to a message posted to his Twitter account Thursday.

As a fifth-year senior, Daimler qualifies as a graduate transfer and will be eligible immediately. “I could not be more excited about what my future holds,” Daimler wrote. “Wherever I end up I know that I will always be a Sooner and for that am I so proud. This University [sic] will forever remain close to my heart. Boomer Sooner.”

If that name does not immediately ring a bell, you are forgiven. Daimler appeared in three games as a Sooner, all over last season.

Hailing from Houston, Daimler, who stands 6-foot-7 and is listed at 321 pounds, was a 3-star recruit when he signed with Oklahoma over Texas A&M, Arizona State and Colorado, among others.