The good news is there’s a football game coming up at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. The bad news is that it will likely be the last game for the University of Louisville. The Cards’ most likely bowl invitation, if they were to defeat Rutgers, appeared to be the Papa John’s Bowl in Birmingham.
Scratch that. Cincinnati (9-3) has accepted an invitation to play Southern Mississippi (7-5) in the Dec. 22 bowl game. Attendance must not have been much a factor for the bowl sponsors. Neither team travels very well.
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The chatter surrounding the Rutgers program seems to be focused on their appearance in the International Bowl, rather than on the Louisville game — quite a switch from last year when the lights in the Empire State Building signaled support for Rutgers in one of the biggest games of the college football season.
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In case you missed it, the Rutgers game is a “Black Out” game, with fans being asked to wear all black. Someone must have known something when it was scheduled before the season started. For many fans, black seems an appropriate color to bury this season’s anxieties. Whatever happened to red, anyway?
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The spotlight will not shine as bright as it once did on U of L’s Brian Brohm and Rutgers’ Ray Rice, but expect both to put up big numbers. Brohm has thrown for 29 touchdown and 3,787 yards, Rice has run for 17 touchdowns and 1,612 yards. Neither will receive many Heisman Trophy votes. However, they will be among the top five draft choices.
One person you can count on being at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium any time the U of L football team lines up is U. S. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Fan of the Week. The four-term Republican leader is a diehard Card fan and rarely misses a game, at home or away.
“One of my favorite activities is watching U of L football,” he told us. “I have been a Cardinal fan since I was in school at the University of Louisville. I canÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t remember the last time I missed a home game. In fact, last year I went to every home and away game except one, the game in Pittsburgh; only having to miss it because my daughters were in to visit me for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.”
Sen. McConnell, who attended away games this season at UConn, North Carolina State and South Florida, is looking beyond the team’s current misfortunes. “While this season has been a disappointing one, I look forward to the spring when the Cardinals return to the gridiron and once again begin their quest for the BCS Championship,” he said. “I will enjoy watching the young talent improve as U of L football continues to grow as a force to be reckoned with in college football.”
The former County Judge said he also loves tailgating and taking part in the camaraderie that comes with being a member of the U of L family. “I have enjoyed watching the athletic program grow over the years, going from the Metro Conference to Conference USA to the Big East and rising through the ranks to winning the school’s first Bowl Championship Series game.”
Any other thoughts?
“Go Cards!” he said, emphatically.
Photo: Senator McConnell gets together with U of L football player Daniel Cameron (also a McConnell Scholar) and Daniel’s parents: Von and Sandra Cameron.
Finding it difficult to get fired up for the Thursday night game against Rutgers? Doubt any Louisville player involved in last year’s 28-25 loss has the same problem.
Certainly not Brian Brohm; it had to be the most disappointing loss of his college career. Thirty minutes away from what could have been a perfect season, from moving up to at least the No. 2 spot in the country, from possibly playing in the national championship game. Has he thought about it?
“It’s painful to go back and watch the way things just kind of fell apart,” he said Monday. “A lot of it was the switch in momentum, tough team on the road, guys lost confidence. Things just kind of steamrolled and we couldn’t get things back together. We remember all that; we just want to get back at them.”
Despite what has happened this season, this video will either break your heart or steel it for the upcoming game:
To U of L Football Assistants: Prepare for the Rutgers game as if your coaching career depended on one more win. The win must be convincing, too. To Anthony Allen: Shave the locks; you were better without them. Then pass the clippers to Scott Kuhn. George Stripling is the designated long hair; one per team. To Trent Guy: Two arms firmly around the ball. To JaJuan Spillman: Keep going to class if you’re still in school. To Fair Weather Fans: Get hand warmers and butt warmers for Thursday. To Basketball Jumpers: Admit it, football is still more fun. To Conspiracy Fans: Tom Jurich is not the enemy.
Congratulations to Big East brother West Virginia University for being voted No. 1 in the Coaches’ Poll this week. WVU is second in the BCS standings, less than seven tenths of a point behind Missouri.
The recognition has been a long time coming but few (the clueless Associated Press writers who voted Missouri tops in the AP Poll) can deny that the Mountaineers have earned their lofty ranking. Now comes the hard part, as any team that has been ranked No. 1 this year can tell you: Not getting beat by an unranked opponent in the next game.
Guess who the Mountaineers play next? None other than the Pittsburgh Panthers, their most hated rival, in a Saturday night game at Morgantown. Think it’s bad between U of L and UK? That’s a love fest compared to the WVU-Pitt rivalry. Don’t rely on past records to predict the outcome.
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— Kolby Smith, one of the pieces missing from U of L’s offense this season, picked up 150 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries in his first start for the Kansas City Chiefs against Oakland. He was standing in for the injured Priest Holmes. Chiefs lost 20-17 but found a jewel. — The men’s soccer team defeated Duke 1-0 at Cardinal Park Friday in the first round of NCAA tournament action. The Cards move on to the second round on Wednesday, squaring off against Ohio State at Columbus, Ohio at 5 p.m. Remember, Coach Ken Lolla (photo) has said the team’s goal is to win the national championship. — The women volleyball players have earned an invitation to the NCAA Volleyball Tournament. The Cards will open first round action against Middle Tennessee State University on Friday in a set to be played in Louisville. The Cards are 22-7 after dropping a set to Ohio University 3-2 Saturday.
— The women’s basketball team looks forward to its home opener against Florida at Freedom Hall at 2 p.m. next Sunday. The Cards defeated Chattanooga 80-53 in the title game of the Panera Classic behind Angel McCoughtry’s 28 points and 10 steals. Their won-loss record is 3-2.
— U of L senior midfielder Janelle Avila was picked for the National Field Hockey Coaches Association All-America third team. A senior, Avila finished second on the school’s scoring list with 109 points.