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The curse of the NCAA CFP rankings No.5 strikes again

It may be a little too soon to call it a curse, but we’re trying to make that happen. In the first edition of the College Football Playoff rankings, the then-undefeated Washington Huskies were ranked 5th behind a team without a flawless record (we forget which one). The Huskies claimed not to be bothered by that, but we could tell the rage was bubbling just underneath the surface. Next thing we know, the USC Trojans defied college football betting odds and beat the Huskies 26-13. Washington dropped to the No. 6 spot.

Next in line were the Louisville Cardinals, who were also ranked 5th in second edition of the CFP rankings released on Tuesday. Heisman trophy candidate Lamar Jackson and other Cardinals took to Twitter – as you do – to vent their dissatisfaction with the perceived slight. What happens next? The Cards are routed 10-36 by the NCAAF betting underdogs the Houston Cougars. And it’s not just any loss, either; with one regular season game left, Louisville pretty much just kissed the playoff goodbye. Jackson had a modest – for his own standards – performance with 211 yards and one touchdown pass and 33 rushing yards, but the Cards were a mess, committing 15 penalties, allowing 11 sacks, and turning the ball over three times. “I think we let (the CFP rankings) get to us too much,” safety Dee Smith admitted afterward.

Jackson still has the best college football betting odds to win the Heisman trophy (-3500) on the strength of his 2016 body of work – 3,109 passing yards, 28 touchdown passes, 1,367 rushing yards, and 19 rushing touchdowns. However, recent Heisman winners have led teams that either did not lose (Cam Newton, Mark Ingram), or lost by no more than 10 points – with the exceptions of Marcus Mariota whose Oregon Ducks lost the post-Heisman CFP title game by 22 points in 2014, and Robert Griffin III whose Baylor Bears lost back-to-back games by 27 and 35 points.

In other words, while there are precedents, the fact remains that other contenders such as Jake Browning, Jabrill Peppers, and Jonathan Allen may have taken one step forward while Jackson took one step backward. “I’m not really focused on (the Heisman trophy),” Jackson said following the loss to Houston. “I was focused on winning. I’m not really focused on the Heisman. I just have to go out there, play with my team and help us win games. That’s it.” On the other hand, running back Brandon Radcliff is convinced that Jackson is “the best player in the nation” and his chances were not hurt by the Cougars upset.