As great of a win as Saturday’s victory was for Kentucky, it could be even more devastating for the Louisville Cardinals.
Coming into Saturday, Louisville was a lock for a BCS bowl, likely the Orange Bowl, had they just beaten the 27-point underdog Wildcats. That’s among the six major bowl games, and each of them have massive payouts to the teams participating in them.
Now, as Anthony Wireman writes, Louisville could fall all the way down to the Russell Athletic Bowl. The difference in the payout between that and the Orange Bowl could end up being $15 million that Louisville loses as a result of UK beating them.
Just missing out on a BCS bowl is bad enough, but losing a chunk of change like that is pretty damaging as well.
The real question is will UK’s win ultimately cost Lamar Jackson the Heisman trophy? He’s been the runaway favorite for most of the season, but a couple of so-so performances brought him back to the pack enough that he needed a big game Saturday to clinch college football’s ultimate player award...which Lamar seemed to think he’d done in the fourth quarter Saturday:
That tied the game at 38-all in the fourth quarter with 7:44 on the clock. Then when Jackson drove the Cards down to the UK 10-yard line with two minutes left, it looked inevitable the trophy would be his.
But Jackson fumbled the ball away, allowing the Wildcats to drive downfield and set up the game-winning field goal by Austin MacGinnis. Jackson would get one final hail mary, but it was intercepted by Mike Edwards, his second of the game and Jackson’s fifth turnover in a 3-point loss for Louisville.
Needless to say, that was a big hit to Jackson’s Heisman campaign, enough that he fell back to the pack and now is no long a locker to win it. It didn’t help that Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, who most view as the biggest threat to Jackson, threw for 47 yards and six touchdowns in a win over South Carolina.
Watson and other Heisman contenders (Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, Alabama’s Jalen Hurts) will be in action next week while Jackson and the Cards await their postseason fate.
Jackson will probably still win the Heisman, but if it doesn’t happen, the Kentucky Wildcats’ massive victory will have been a big reason why.
That said, give the trophy to Lamar. He deserves it, and frankly, no one else has made a good argument for it either.