Sidelines with John Clay

Louisville’s ranking, Patrick Towles, John Wall and more Big Blue Links

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) throws a touchdown during the first half the Cardinals’ 32-25 win over Virginia on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016 in Charlottesville, Va.
Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) throws a touchdown during the first half the Cardinals’ 32-25 win over Virginia on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016 in Charlottesville, Va. Associated Press

Big Blue Links for Wednesday:

Patrick Towles hopes fifth time is charm against Louisville. The Boston College quarterback was 0-4 against U of L during his time at Kentucky. He started UK’s 44-40 loss at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in 2014. Towles completed 18 of 33 passes for 204 yards in Boston College’s 21-14 win over North Carolina State last week.

“It’s special because it’s the next (game in general),” Towles told Steve Jones of the Courier-Journal in a phone interview, “but if I told you that there wasn’t a little extra there, I’d be lying to you, Obviously there is.”

Louisville is seventh in first CFP rankings. Bit of a surprise that the Cardinals were not ranked higher.

“If there’s one very good team that should be sweating bullets, it’s Louisville,” writes Mark Bradley of the AJC. “The Cardinals are No. 7 with no clear path upward. They’re third among one-loss teams, behind Texas A&M and No. 6 Ohio State. Houston’s losses to Navy and SMU have devalued that Nov. 17 game. The rest of the Louisville schedule consists of Boston College, Wake Forest and Kentucky. Even if Clemson should lose the ACC title game — there’s not much chance of it losing before then — the Tigers would make the field of four over Louisville on the strength of head-to-head.”

Cardinals still have a long way to climb. And it’s going to be tough considering Bobby Petrino’s team does not have a marquee game left on the schedule.

“This feels a bit like the committee leaning heavily on the computers,” writes Eric Crawford of WDRB. “Texas A&M has a strength of schedule of No. 23 nationally in the Sagarin ratings. It has a win over Auburn -- but I’m not sure that’s more impressive than Louisville’s 63-20 win over Florida State. It beat a wobbly Tennessee team at home. It beat a bad South Carolina team by 11 and a bad UCLA team by a touchdown. It also has wins over Prairie View and Arkansas. It lost to Alabama 33-14. There’s nothing truly special there. You want to rank them above Louisville on the strength of the Auburn win, that’s fine. But I don’t think they belong in the playoff today above Ohio State.”

Georgia attempts to overcome third-quarter woes against UK. The Bulldogs haul a two-game losing streak into Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday night to face Kentucky.

“When it comes to keeping up with the opposition, Georgia has struggled mightily to do so in the period after halftime,” writes Jordan D. Hill of the Macon Telegraph. “After matching opponents with a 41-41 point total in the first quarter and narrowly being outscored 55-51 in the second quarter, the Bulldogs have been unable to keep up the pace. Georgia has been outscored 66-46 in the third quarter, only to outscore the opposition 48-47 in the final 15 minutes of regulation.

Florida embracing underdog mentality to finish out season. The Gators have a tough game at Arkansas on Saturday. If the Gators win two of their last three conference games they clinch the SEC East regardless of how Kentucky finishes.

“I think that’s natural because I don’t think going into it anybody thought much of us anyway,”Coach Jim McElwain said Monday. “And as I told our guys, it’s just a matter of going out and proving it each week. You know if you take care of business on Saturdays, people are going to take notice, and that’s really what we have to do.”

New Orleans Pelicans are frustrated by 0-4 start.

“We had too many mental breakdowns,” Anthony Davis said after New Orleans’ 117-113 loss to Milwaukee on Tuesday. “We’re not talking out there and so, therefore, we have mental breakdowns that gave them easy layups at the basket and open shots.”

John Wall says it has been tough to change the Wizards’ culture, especially after playing college basketball at Kentucky.

“Well, it’s been tough. Kentucky, they showed me what loyalty is to the game of basketball,” Wall told Sports Illustrated’s The Crossover. “Their fans are amazing. They don’t have no other sports down there. You love horses, you love basketball. And here? My ultimate goal is to bring a championship here. I don’t want to go nowhere. I’m one of those guys that likes to lead, not follow. So when we get to that 50-win point, they’ll be happy all over again. I think our fans... They have their ups and downs. And it’s tough, because it’s like a curse that’s been going around with playoff teams. The Nationals lost in the first round, the Redskins will go and they’ll lose, we’ll make it to the second round and lose. I just want to bring the sense of urgency back. Get us to the Eastern Conference finals, get a chance to make the Finals, see what can happen.”

Ben Simmons blasts the NCAA in new documentary.

“The NCAA is really f---ed up,” Simmons said on “One and Done,” a film that will air on Showtime on Friday night. “Everybody’s making money except the players. We’re the ones waking up early as hell to be the best teams and do everything they want us to do and then the players get nothing. They say education, but if I’m there for a year, I can’t get much education.”

Arizona’s Ray Smith may have torn ACL in exhibition win on Tuesday night. It’s not the first knee troubles for the star-crossed Smith.

“Tough night for us—watching Ray go down. It certainly didn’t look good; we’ll know more in the next couple of days,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said after his team’s 51-point win. “I think that trumps everything else tonight.”


12:00 - Georgia Southern at Ole Miss (ESPNU)

12:00 - Texas A&M at Mississippi State (ESPN, ESPN2 or SEC)

12:00 - Vanderbilt at Auburn (ESPN, ESPN2 or SEC)

3:30 - Florida at Arkansas (CBS)

4:00 - Missouri at South Carolina (SEC)

4:00 - Tennessee Tech at Tennessee (SEC alternate)

7:30 - Georgia at Kentucky (SEC)

8:00 - Alabama at LSU (CBS)

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