Two months ago, this was supposed to be one of the games of the season: Houston, the group of five’s best shot at reaching the playoff, hosting a Louisville side quarterbacked by Heisman Trophy frontrunner Lamar Jackson.
One of those things is still true: Lamar Jackson remains the Heisman Trophy front-runner and can probably wrap up his candidacy in primetime Thursday night. But Houston has slumped since its 5-0 start, with losses to Navy (which wasn’t bad) and SMU (which was) and narrow-ish wins over Tulsa (by seven), UCF (by seven) and Tulane (by 12).
But if Tom Herman is going to shock the world again on Thursday night in Houston, he’ll have to do it with his star quarterback again dealing with a banged-up right shoulder.
Ward injured his shoulder diving for a spiked ball late in the first half of Houston’s win over Tulane:
Went back and watched Tulane game. Here’s the play Greg Ward Jr. injured shoulder just before halftime pic.twitter.com/IxwYWdar4S
— Joseph Duarte (@Joseph_Duarte) November 14, 2016
Kyle Postma replaced Ward in the second half, but then broke his left arm. Ward was forced back into the game for the fourth quarter, during which Houston only gained nine yards (not counting two end-of-game kneel-downs).
Ward dealt with a shoulder injury earlier in the season and was held out of Houston’s win over FCS-level Lamar in September due to it. While Houston certainly could take down Louisville with an inspired defensive performance, its chances of a season-shattering upset certainly appear lower if Ward’s shoulder remains a problem on Thursday.