Feel that wave of excitement sweeping back over the University of Louisville football program. It’s very real.
A gutsy win in overtime over a good Cincinnati team has re-energized the fan base, revving up the fan base for the next step in the program’s development — an appearance in the $2.75 million Russell Athletic Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 28.
The fact that the foe will come from the Atlantic Coast Conference makes the game even more significant for UofL fans, eager to get it started in their conference to be in 2014. As far as the football program is concerned, the Big East and the American Athletic Conference are in the rear view mirror. The third place team in the ACC is scheduled to be the opponent but the conference standings are crowded at the top going into this weekend’s action. According to CBS Sports.com, UofL will play either Miami or Georgia Tech, with Duke as an outside possibility.
Tickets are available, starting at $126 per seat in prime locations in the 76,000-seat stadium through PrimeSports, a premier athletic ticket and travel company, which also offers some nice hotel accommodations, including the team hotel, the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista. Check out the ticket and travel package here or click on one of the Card Game ads (yes, the observer will get a commission).
The University’s seating allotment is primarily in sections 122-139, 222-239. Here’s a seating chart:
She is one of the reasons why Louisville women’s basketball fans are intensely loyal.
After two days of testing at Jewish Hospital, Antonita Slaughter has received a diagnosis — a pulmonary embolism, or blood clot, in one of her lungs. As a result, she won’t be available to the UofL women’s basketball team at least for the rest of this season. Coach Jeff Walz said she actually incurred a cardiac event during the game against Missouri State on Tuesday.
Always a positive presence, Antonita is a senior majoring in sports administration. She was averaging 9.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. If she is able to continue her basketball career, the school may apply for a medical redshirt. It may be a long shot, however.
Her most memorable performance was easily the game against Baylor in the NCAA tournament last season when she connected on seven of nine three-point shots in an 82-81 win over the top-ranked Bears.
Antonita’s older sister, Toni Slaughter, was a point guard at UofL from 2005 through 2007.
The 53rd meeting between the University of Louisville and Cincinnati football teams was probably among the best between the programs since they first faced each other in 1929.
Teddy Bridgewater may or not return next season. Whether he does or not, he will always be especially remembered for his performances in three games–the season finales against Rutgers in 2012, the last game against Cincinnati and for getting up off the ground to lead UofL past Florida in the Sugar Bowl
His heroics in leading Louisville to a 31-24 win over the Bearcats was the kind of stuff that make players legends to their fans, a giant step for programs in building tradition and pride. A matchup between two good quarterbacks this game.
UofL’s Teddy Bridgewater, running for his life all night, sacked three times, beaten and bruised, refusing to wilt. Laying flat on his back watching Damian Copeland pull in a desperation pass in the back of the end zone. Running backwards, escaping one, two, three defenders, getting must-have first downs.
The more he endured, the stronger and more determined he would become. Between all the punishment, Teddy would somehow manage to complete 23 or 37 passes for 255 yards and three touchdowns. Two to DaVante Parker, the other Damian Copeland, his most reliable targets, making a couple of impossible catches.
Under constant pressure, Bridgewater was forced to be creative, using the two or three seconds of his rationed time to make game-changing decisions, pulling his team from the brink again and again, somehow managing to get his tired and anguished teammates into overtime.
Cincinnati’s Brendon Kay, hobbling around on a gimpy leg, probably doesn’t even remember diving head first in the end zone, needing help to get to the sideline. Kay had a major advantage, however, the beneficiary of all kinds of protection and plenty of time to find receivers most of the game. He would complete 22 of 40 passes for 304 yards.
Kay’s performance in this game brought back memories of Bridgewater’s struggles during last year’s Rutgers game when Teddy played with hand and ankle injuries. No happy endings for Kay, however, with Bridgewater refusing to finish second best while still in a Louisville uniform.
Bridgewater was forced to be creative, using the two or three seconds of his rationed time to make game-changing decisions, pulling his team from the brink again and again, somehow managing to get his tired and anguished teammates into overtime.
Possibly the last game in the rivalry, probably the most memorable ever, one that epitomized what the series has meant to both programs.
Weather radar indicates that rain is already commenced in the Queen City so wet seats and drizzle await fans who will be attending the University of Louisville-Cincinnati football game at Nippert Stadium.
That will make conditions even more nasty in a game with significant implications for both teams.
Cincinnati, 9-2, still has an outside shot at a BCS bowl because Central Florida, which defeated UofL, still has another game next week. The Bearcats also will have a chip on their shoulders because they will be left behind when Louisville enters the Atlantic Coast Conference next season. They will be highly motivated.
UofL, which has failed to impress anyone in a while, badly needs a win over a good team to feel better about a season in which the program went from being a top 10 team to being just another also-ran. Teddy Bridgewater went from a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy to not being mentioned in recent weeks.
This game could also reveal just how much the weak schedule has affected the team. Instead of getting better, UofL appears to have regressed in the eyes of many observers. As cold weather crept into the schedule, the Cardinal receivers suddenly became less sure handed and Bridgewater not quite so accurate. The defense not quite as formidable, the offensive line inadequate, and the running sorely suspect.
A large part of the problem may have been the caliber of the competition, with players having difficulty getting excited about the teams they’re playing. That excuse goes out of the window against Cincinnati. The Cardinals have something to prove for a change. Whether they have any toughness left is the answer only they can provide.
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The first 5,000 fans who enter Nippert will receive a wristband that equates to one replica of the Keg of Nails. Beginning at the start of the fourth quarter, fans will be able to collect their souvenir on Sheakley Lawn, located between Marge Schott Stadium (baseball stadium) and Nippert Stadium.
Rick Pitino tinkering with who knows what, employing all kinds of player combinations, searching for answers.
For much of the game, the coach remaining seated, resting his chin on his clasped hands, saving most of his animated discussions for Russ Smith.
Russ, by the way, helped the Hall of Fame coach set the starting lineup, urging Pitino to start Terry Rozier over himself after a bad practice. Smith, the substitute, would have 11 assists, 10 points,six rebounds, a block and three steals.
Pitino may have appeared bored on the bench, understandable with the University of Louisville cruising to 13-2 over Missouri-Kansas City en route to a 90-62 win. Or maybe he was frustrated, complaining about mediocrity after the game. Doubtful on both counts, Pitino, with that one-day contract, constantly analyzing every move, every player, looking down the schedule to tougher opponents.