Tag: Louisville football
A long night and afternoon at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, the feet, legs aching from standing on concrete the entire game and tailgating on the blacktop in the parking lot hours before kickoff.
The painful part, however, is watching Florida State come from behind again in the final five minutes to put an improving University of Louisville football team away 42-31.
Bobby Petrino and staff had taken full advantage of nine days of preparation, their team jumping out to a 21-0 lead. Bobby Ball was back on full display in that first quarter. So close to another of those magical moments for UofL. The Seminoles with the superior quarterback and personnel unfortunately, proving they are capable of pulling off a second consecutive national championship.
Will Gardner standing in the pocket, the offensive line protecting him all game long, passing for 380 yards. Until those last five minutes, playing the game of his life, playing with confidence, finding his receivers, guiding the Cardinals into the end zone four times. Throwing his only interception as the clock runs down. The offensive line, the target of verbal abuse all season long, guilty of only one false start, coming during those decisive last five minutes.
UofL’s pride and joy, the defensive unit, keeping Florida State contained for much of the first half, creating a fumble on the one yard line with 33 seconds to, only to see Florida State cover the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. That recovery providing some optimism for the Seminoles, sending them to locker room with momentum.
UofL could not afford any mistakes, Florida State could, capitalizing on every Louisville miscue, any sign of weakness. The adrenaline finally depleted late in the game.
The Cardinals competed with the best of them for 55 minutes. Not good enough against a resourceful and determined Florida State.
A crowd of 55,414, second largest ever for a University of Louisville football game, departs Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium after witnessing a good Florida State team come from 21 points down to defeat UofL 42-31 on Thursday. The crowd was only 14 people short of the all-time attendance record of 55,428 against Miami in this season’s opening game. It’s late, this observer is hitting the sack in five minutes.
Florida State should be No. 1 when it arrives in Louisville this Thursday — the defending national champion, undefeated this season, and having won 23 straight games — but the pollsters have outsmarted themselves again.
Why Mississippi State is on top of the polls is a mystery, even more so after struggling against Kentucky last week. Mississippi State was woefully lacking on defense, with nothing resembling a credible pass rush, allowing the UK offense to rack up 504 yards, including 401 yards passing.
Four wins over SEC teams, two over CUSA teams, one over a Sun Belt team and a narrow win over Kentucky are not persuasive.
The sentiment for Mississippi State was largely generated by a 34-19 win over LSU, giving the Bulldogs a 4-0 record after wins over Southern Miss, UAB and South Alabama. It intensified after the Bulldogs defeated three-loss Texas A&M 48-31 and one-loss Auburn 38-23. The lesson here is that wins over SEC teams count more than wins over non-SEC teams.
Florida State, meanwhile, continues to pile up victories, including a win over Clemson while Heisman quarterback Jameis Winston was suspended. The Seminoles made a persuasive argument for moving back to the top spot last week with a 31-27 win against previously-unbeaten and seventh-ranked Notre Dame.
The pollsters, however, failed to grasp the significance of the No. 2 team defeating the No. 7 team and their No. 1 pick escaping against an unranked Kentucky team. These same voters had flipped Florida State and Mississippi State three weeks early, holding a 56-41 win over NC State against Florida State.
One inescapable conclusion is that the pollsters also are holding some of Florida State’s off-the-field issues against the Seminoles. Another is that Mississippi State is living on borrowed time, with games still to come at Alabama and Mississippi.
Despite what the pollsters say, one could reasonably conclude that Florida State has a legitimate claim to being the No. 1 college football team. Florida State has three games remaining after the Thursday night game — against Miami, Boston College and Florida. If they were to wind up undefeated, the Seminoles would deserve to be top-seeded in the national championship playoffs.
While the mindless minions who vote in the polls have deprived UofL fans the opportunity to line up against the No. 1 team, there is little doubt in these parts that Florida State is deserving of the top spot. BCS bowls aside, Thursday night’s game is the most important in the program’s history.
Note from the University of Louisville:
A large Future Farmers of America convention event at the Kentucky Exposition Center, racing at Churchill Downs and normal evening traffic on Thursday will add to the congestion in the vicinity of the stadium. The reserved parking lots surrounding the stadium will open at 2:30 p.m. for tailgaters attending the matchup with the nation’s second-ranked team.
Regular traffic patterns for game days will not change. Drivers should cooperate with the police directing traffic. U of L students who regularly park at the stadium on weekdays will be parking at an alternate location on Thursday.
While Halloween falls on Friday evening and fans may wish to be festive, costumes may be worn to the game but masks will not be permitted.
The weather forecast for Thursday is 61 degrees, winds out of the southwest at five miles per hour. Perfect setting for another historic meeting between the Louisville and Florida State football teams. The kind of game that brings out the best in Bobby Petrino.
Games between UofL and FSU were at one time a once-in-a-decade event like in 2002 when the Cardinals shocked the college football world with a 26-20 win over the Seminoles at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Louisville was filler material on the FSU schedule, having lost the previous 12 games to FSU by a total of 394 points since 1952, UofL failing to score in five of those games.
Visions of a field covered with of thousands of jubilant rain-soaked fans clad in bright, reflecting yellow, red and white ponchos linger from that game. There’s also a flashback of the apprehension of getting banged in the head by the goal posts being carted around the field. One of those gladdening, exhilarating and gut-busting experiences one will never forget.
UofL football would be forever changed by that win, awakening fans as to what could be possible with a serious commitment to college football.
The rest of the 2002 season was a blur, Louisville losing to Kentucky in the opener, finishing with a 38-15 loss to Marshall University in the GMAC Bowl in Detroit, and compiling a 7-6 won-lost record. But there was that Florida State win, what it inspired in the minds of the UofL faithful.
Bobby Petrino wasn’t around that night. He had served one season as John L’s offensive coordinator in 1998 and moved on to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL. He would arrive at UofL two seasons later, compiling a 41-9 record in three seasons and delivering BCS Orange Bowl hardware in 2007, furthering the dream of UofL fans. What nobody could have anticipated was the nightmarish three years of the Steve Kragthorpe era.
What Petrino proved during his first tenure here was that the dreams that surfaced after the Florida State win weren’t misplaced, that UofL could compete on a national level. Despite his success here, Petrino wasn’t ready to take the next step, not committed to Louisville, taking his aspirations and wandering eyes elsewhere, first to Atlanta and on to Arkansas where he and a companion on a motorbike would careen into a ditch, banished for a year before winding up at Western Kentucky University.
Seeking forgiveness and a second chance, Petrino would contact Tom Jurich at least a year before Charlie Strong left Louisville, Petrino asking Jurich to help him get his life back in order. There were reports when Tennessee was pursuing Strong in 2012 that Petrino would be the choice if Strong left. Negotiations between the two parties fell through Strong returned for another season at UofL.
When Strong did leave the following year, Petrino was the first and last choice for Jurich. UofL fans enthusiastically welcoming Petrino back. Big difference this time around, with Louisville in the Atlantic Coast Conference, having a chance to compete for a national championship. Petrino repentant, overjoyed at a second chance, saying he wanted to compete for the national title at UofL, this time with conviction, knowing he has a way to get there.
The fans and Bobby Petrino are on the same page now. Thursday night’s game could be a mile marker to the ultimate destination. Down the road a bit maybe, but an integral part of the itinerary.
So fun to watch, the standard by which UofL fans compare all college defenses this season, a group largely responsible for Louisville’s 6-2 won-lost record and a healthy dose of optimism as UofL prepares to meet No. 2 Florida State on Thursday.
One kept expecting MSU, the nation’s No. 1 team, to provide some evidence of an effective defense but the Bulldogs just weren’t capable, disapppointing time after time. Defensive stopping ability just wasn’t there, allowing UK to stick around, providing an opportunity for a major upset.
The Bulldog defense was a sieve, allowing UK quarterback Patrick Towles a total of 390 yards through the air. Towles would rush for 76 of Kentucky’s 103 yards on the ground.
Few quarterbacks are going to have those kind of numbers against Louisville, which is No. 1 nationally in total defense. U of L ranks fifth nationally in tackles for loss with 60, second in sacks with 28, and first in interceptions with 15.
As UofL prepares for the next four games — Florida State, Boston College, Notre Dame and Kentucky — the defense is eager to improve on those numbers. The bigger the challenge, the more motivated this defensive unit becomes and the more likely it is to impose its will on the competition, keeping Louisville in contention to win every game.