Any debate over whether No. 5 Louisville Cardinals (8-1, 6-1 ACC) quarterback Lamar Jackson belongs in the Heisman Trophy discussion has been silenced in abrupt fashion.
Jackson went 12/17 for 231 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception while rushing for 185 yards and three scores on 15 carries, cementing himself at the forefront of the conversation for the nation's most dominant player while leading the Cardinals to a resounding resume-boosting 52-7 victory over the Boston College Eagles (4-5, 1-5 ACC).
"We came out there and we performed great," Jackson said. "Being able to perform the way we did, it was a great team win. We have a different team than last year [when Jackson accounted for just 68 total yards and two turnovers in a narrow win over Boston College]. We are mature now. We trained a lot, and we are showing it now."
Wide receiver Jaylen Smith emerged as Jackson's favorite target on the afternoon, catching six passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. James Quick garnered three catches for 78 yards and two scores while Jeremy Smith added two grabs for 31 yards and running back Brandon Radcliff grabbed a pass for 17 yards.
"Our execution was better, a lot more crisp this week," said Smith. "We didn't want any more close calls like last week's game [where the Cardinals eked out a squeaker of a one-point win over the Virginia Cavaliers]. We feel like we're the best team when we step on the field. We just have to play our game and execute."
The victory came after the Cardinals were bestowed the ranking of the seventh-best team in the country by the first edition of the College Football Playoff rankings.
"Our team, we have fought all year and people still don't give us credit," Jackson said of the ranking.
"We have to prove that we are not a No. 7 team," Smith said.
Boston College quarterback Patrick Towles was efficient, completing 13 of his 21 passes for 147 yards, one touchdown, and one pick, however, he was unable to foster any type of momentum for the Eagles as they suffered their fifth conference loss of the season.
Jackson shows off from the beginning
Jackson kicked off the ballgame with electricity, sprinting 69 yards to paydirt on a third down conversion to give the Cardinals an early 7-0 lead. With his 17th touchdown rush of the season, Jackson became the first Louisville quarterback to eclipse 1,000 yards rushing in a single year.
The Cardinals then silenced Boston College on defense, and Jackson opened up the subsequent possession with a first-down strike to Staples before keeping it himself for 18 yards. Jackson then connected with Smith for 19 yards before hitting Quick over the middle for a 30-yard score to make it a 14-0 game six minutes in.
"Having [Lamar] as a quarterback is always fun," Quick said. "Just the way he has been playing lately."
Towles responded by hitting tight end Tommy Sweeney to advance the Eagles into Louisville territory for the first time on the following drive. However, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Boston College ruined the momentum. Jackson continued the momentum towards the end of the first quarter, hitting Radcliff for 17 yards before going deep to Smith for a 44-yard touchdown over the middle, increasing the lead to 21-0 before the 15-minute mark had passed.
Second quarter brings more struggles for Eagles
The second quarter continued the Eagles' ineptitude as Sweeney kicked it off by fumbling the ball away following a reception. The loose ball was recovered by the Cardinals at the BC 10-yard line, and Jackson capitalized by hitting Quick for a 10-yard score, pushing the lead to 28-0 with 14:44 left in the second quarter.
Boston College attempted to answer, with Towles hitting wideout Charlie Callinan for a 16-yard gain on a third down near midfield. However, the team failed to convert on a fourth-and-three chance inside the Louisville 30-yard line. Jackson responded with a beautiful 38-yard bomb to Quick before hitting tight end Cole Hikutini for a five-yard score to push the lead to 35-0.
"It means a lot [to play so well against a respected defense]," Jackson said. "We need our respect, just like everyone else."
Towles proceeded to throw an interception to Cardinals safety Chucky Williams, however, Jackson proved himself mortal and copied his counterpart, tossing a pick to Eagles free safety John Johnson on his last throw of the half. This Eagles possession stalled, and Towles turned the ball over yet again with just over a minute remaining in the first half after being stripped by outside linebacker James Hearns while taking a sack.
The Cardinals concluded the second quarter with kicker Blanton Creque hitting a 26-yard field goal, leading Louisville into halftime with a 38-point lead.
Jackson remains superb in second half
Surprisingly, Jackson returned for second half action and fumbled the ball away to Eagles middle linebacker Connor Strachan near midfield on the first possession of the third quarter. Towles then answered, hitting running back Tyler Rouse near the sideline who sprinted up the field for a 39-yard touchdown to lessen the deficit to 38-7.
Jackson refused to be overshadowed, however, hitting wideout Seth Dawkins for a 14-yard pickup to set the Cardinals up in Eagles territory before rushing for his 18th score of the season from 13 yards out, increasing the gap to 45-7 with 8:19 left in the third quarter.
Jackson continued his assault of the Eagles on the ground on the subsequent possession, faking a handoff to Radcliff and rushing 53 yards untouched for yet another rushing score to make it a 52-7 ballgame with just under two minutes remaining in the third quarter.