Louisville got a career night from true freshman quarterback Lamar Jackson to beat Texas A&M 27-21 in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl on Wednesday night. While Jackson starred for the Cardinals, Texas A&M third-string quarterback Jake Hubenak struggled with consistency, though his play late in the fourth quarter was nearly enough to give the Aggies a comeback win. Here is a look at how it went down:
What the win means for Louisville: The Cards ended the season on a 6-1 run, including two straight victories over SEC teams. More than that, we got a true glimpse of what Louisville could be headed into 2016 based on the way Jackson played. With a month to prepare as the entrenched starter, Jackson was electric, setting bowl, career and school records en route to 226 yards rushing, 453 yards of total offense and four touchdowns. The Cards introduced option elements they had not used all season long. Now consider what they return next season: Jackson, plus nine more starters on offense. Defensively, Devonte Fields and Josh Harvey-Clemons had big games, but they have NFL decisions to make. Still, there should be excitement about this team after such an impressive performance.
What the loss means for Texas A&M: After Kyler Murray and Kyle Allen transferred in succession, chatter started about whether coach Kevin Sumlin should be on the hot seat. That might not stop after the Aggies' first bowl loss since 2010, but should he and the Aggies get a pass? Hubenak had only four appearances in relief headed into this game. He looked shaky in the first half, but played better in the second half, though he had two turnovers in the third quarter that hurt. He rallied the Aggies late in the fourth quarter though, tossing a 29-yard touchdown pass to Christian Kirk with 4:54 to go, then marching them down the field with a chance to win before throwing incomplete on fourth down. Still, the loss gives Texas A&M back-to-back 8-5 seasons and many quarterback questions to contemplate in the offseason.
How the game was won: After Texas A&M closed to 27-21, Louisville went three-and-out, and the Aggies were back in business. They had their drive kept alive after a Hubenak incompletion on fourth down when James Hearns was called for hands to the face -- the 10th penalty on the Cards in the game. After review overturned a catch by Kirk that would have given the Aggies the ball inside the 10, Hubenak threw incomplete into the end zone with 1:39 to go, ending their hopes.
Player of the game: Jackson. He had a Music City record and career high in rushing yards in a breakout performance on a national stage. Not only that, Jackson became the second quarterback from a Power 5 school to throw and rush for 200 yards in a bowl game in the past four seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The other: Johnny Manziel.
Uh, what? Louisville dynamo linebacker James Burgess was ejected on the first play of the game when he was called for targeting. It appeared as if Burgess hit receiver Damion Ratley in the chest with his shoulder. But Ratley’s head snapped back on the play, and officials ruled that Burgess hit a defenseless player in the head/neck area. It was a tough way for Burgess to end his Louisville career.