NC State

Jackson, Cardinals rout the Wolfpack 54-13

Louisville’s Cole Hikutini celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the game against the N.C. State at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Ky.
Louisville’s Cole Hikutini celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the game against the N.C. State at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Ky. Getty Images

A lot can change in a week.

Last week, N.C. State had Clemson on the ropes, and Louisville struggled with Duke.

There were no close calls or struggles on Saturday at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Lamar Jackson threw for three touchdowns and ran for another as No. 7 Louisville blitzed the Wolfpack 54-13.

N.C. State (4-3, 1-2 ACC) gave No. 4 Clemson all it wanted last Saturday. It had a chance to win in regulation on a 33-yard field goal but lost 24-17 in overtime.

Louisville (6-1, 4-1) labored against Duke last Friday before surviving a tough game with a 24-14 win.

The Cardinals didn’t waste any time on Saturday, jumping out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter and 44-0 margin at the half.

Jackson, the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy, was spectacular with 333 passing yards — in the first half. He ran for a 36-yard touchdown on the first drive and threw TD passes of 74, 3 and 16 yards in the first half.

How N.C. State lost

There was the natural residual effect of a close loss to Clemson. There was also the matter of playing without right tackle Will Richardson early and then the last three quarters without running back Matt Dayes. But basically, the Wolfpack ran into a buzzsaw and then never did anything to help its own cause.

The Cardinals blocked a punt and picked off N.C. State quarterback Ryan Finley twice in the first half.

What it means

This wasn’t a game N.C. State circled on its schedule as a win. As poor of a showing as it was, it still only counts as one loss. It might even serve as motivation in next week’s must-win game at home with Boston College.

Key stat

Minus-1 Louisville outgained N.C. State by 245 yards in the first quarter. The Cardinals had 244 yards, on 23 plays, while N.C. State had minus-1 yard on 11 snaps.

Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio

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