Lamar Jackson Was Good, Ryan Finley Was Great: NC State 39, Louisville 25
Lamar Jackson might have been the star of the show, but Ryan Finley put up the performance needed to get NC State the 39-25 win over Louisville.
NC State 39, Louisville 25
Lamar Jackson is really, really, really good.
Jackson completed 26-of-47 passes for 354 yards and a score with a pick six late, and he ran for 73 yards and two touchdowns. He had to do it all himself with the rest of the offense not helping the cause and the defense not being able to stop …
Ryan Finley picked apart the Cardinal defense. That’s paraphrasing NC State head coach Dave Doeren, who praised his veteran passer after carving up the Cardinals for 367 yards and a touchdown on a 20-of-31 day.
It wasn’t just that Finley came up with the big throws, he seemed able to do it in the clutch moments. Every time Jackson and the Cardinal did something big, Finley and the Wolfpack offense had an answer.
Nyheim Hines helped a little bit.
The Wolfpack running back cranked up 102 yards and two scores, and he set the tone with a few big kick returns, highlighted by a 48-yarder just when it seemed like the Cardinals had momentum.
Jackson was Jackson, and he made it look so effortless at times, but the blitzes, the pressure, and the containment from the veteran NC State defense were enough to keep the Heisman-winner from taking over. When it was Heisman time – Jackson had the ball down seven with three minutes to play – the Pack got the pressure, got the pick six, and got the win.
Yeah, if you didn’t believe in NC State before, you need to now. Up next is a layup against Pitt, but that starts a run of four road games in five dates. The Pack has to go to Notre Dame, and then comes Clemson. If State is good enough to win those two games, it’s good enough to beat Boston College and Wake Forest on the road.
With losses to Clemson and now NC State, the Louisville ACC title hopes are effectively over. The Cardinals still have to go to Florida State and Wake Forest, but that’s about it. They’re good enough to beat Boston College, Virginia, Syracuse and Kentucky, but to do that, the defense has to be far, far tighter in all phases, there has to be more of a pass rush, and No. 8 can’t do it all by himself.