Louisville owns Music City & Mississippi State

By Ed Peak

Coach Scott Satterfield and his coaching staff made football fun again this season, capping it off with another bowl win over an SEC team (Adam Creech photo, UofL Athletics).

“ACC, ACC, ACC.”

The chant from the partisan University of Louisville football fans started low and continued to grow until it echoed throughout Nissan Stadium late in the fourth quarter. The Mississippi State faithful had already headed to Broadway to drown their sorrows.

Such a sweet victory for everyone associated with UofL, a football team needed to totally reinvent  itself after a 2-8 record from hell last season. Crawling back from humiliation and emptiness to an amazing 8-5 record and a bowl win. A team that lost 22 transfers in addition to its senior class.

The final score, making many UofL fans proudly take second, third and fourth looks at the scoreboard, was Louisville 38, Mississippi State 28. The first bowl victory for the Cards since Lamar Jackson and company defeated Texas A&M in 2015 at the same venue.

UofL seems to like Nashville. For the second time this season and third time in four years the Cardinals came away with a victory. None of those last minute heroics needed in this one. Louisville won in convincing fashion, with quarterback Micale Cunningham and the Cardinal offense nearly unstoppable.

The Bulldogs, favored by 4.5 points in the Music City Bowl, starting strong, building a 14-0 lead in the second quarter. From that point on, however, it was all Cardinals, scoring 31 straight points, including four touchdowns in the second half.

More than a little traumatic shortly after the kickoff, with UofL’s Dez Fitzpatrick fumbling the ball on the Mississippi State four-yard line after an eight-play, 96-yard march from its own three. Visions of the Kentucky loss looming in the minds of Cardinal fans. Only temporary, their fear would eventually be transformed into unbridled joy and pride.

A memorable day for fifth-year senior Dante Peete would score his first and only touchdown on a pass from Cunningham to give Louisville a 17-14 lead at 5:01 in the third quarter.

Then came the play that changed the game. Mississippi State quarterback Tommy Stevens fumbled around his own 35. Senior Khane Pass playing in his final game scooped up the loose ball and rumbled 31 yards for a touchdown and a 24-14 with 2:51 in the third quarter.

Cunningham was the game’s Most Valuable Player, completing 16 of 23 attempts for 279 yards and two touchdowns while running 16 times for 81 yards. Tutu Atwell finished with nine catches for 147 yards, making several highlight reel catches. Javian Hawkins carried 23 times for 105 yard and a touchdown. And how about that 33-yard touchdown pass from Tutu Atwell to Marshon Ford in the second quarter?

ACC Coach of the Year Scott Satterfield, who is 4-0 in post season play, was ecstatic. “These guys brought it every day, I’m so proud of them,” said Satterfield from the celebration stand. “All of these guys and you Card Nation. We’re going to burn up Nashville tonight, I’ll tell you that.”

Still Mississippi State in the Music City

By Ed Peak

As a journalist one should never assume anything. Ask questions, check and double check facts. Pretty certain Louisville is playing Mississippi State in the Music City Bowl, December 30 at 4 p.m. (EST). That has been double checked.

Chris Mack is pretty sure Mississippi State will be opponent in the Music City Bowl (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Louisville coach Scott Satterfield was a good 15 minutes into his media briefing Sunday before a reporter told him your playing the Mississippi State. “That doesn’t change anything,” said Satterfield.

Somebody was messing with the SEC bowl picture for sure. One possible suspect, Tennessee AD Phil Fulmer, has been known to change the status quo but he’s not talking about how UT suddenly wound up in the Gator Bowl instead of the Music City Bowl.

Louisville (7-5) and Mississippi State (6-6) are not post season strangers. In 2017, Mississippi State edged the Cardinals 31-27 in the Citrus Bowl. It was quarterback Lamar Jackson’s final game in a Louisville uniform.

  “We get 15 extra practices,” said Satterfield. “We’ll treat the first seven practices like spring ball. Work on fundamentals. Blocking and tackling. Then we’ll start putting in our game plan.”

Satterfield said other than a few bumps and bruises everyone on the roster should be available except Russ Yeast, who is out for an extended period of time after an injury against Syracuse.

Quarterback Micale Cunningham has an ankle problem but should be okay. “We’re excited about playing. Where this group came from winning no conference games to five and finishing second is truly incredible.”

Satterfield was on the road recruiting when he was named Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year last week. “There were a lot of guys that did a great job, Dabo (Swinney) down at Clemson, undefeated two years in a row. Bronco (Mendenhall) at Virginia. All of my assistant coaches all the way down to the grad student coaches and, of course, the players.”

Confirmation for Lamar Jackson in Music City Bowl

Lamar dash
Lamar JacksonAnything can happen when Lamar Jackson takes a snap. Give him an inch and you’ll be sorry.

The Texas A&M coaches knew Jackson was coming, knew he was dangerous, had weeks to prepare for him, tailored its offense toward neutralizing the University of Louisville quarterback.

They’re still still shaking their heads today, trying to figure out what hit them after Jackson accounted for 453 yards in one of the most dazzling offensive performances by a college football player during the 2015 season.

“He picked up where he left off in the second half of the Kentucky game,” said Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M coach. “He’s explosive and he’s got wheels. He really gave us fits on the edge. We shored up the interior, but he got the ball on the perimeter on us and he’s an explosive player.”

The freshman quarterback ran for 226 yards and two touchdowns on the ground and threw for 227 more yards and two additional touchdown through the air to lead Louisville to a 27-21 win over Texas A&M in the Music City Bowl.

He’s only the third major college quarterback ever to rack up more than 200-plus yards in each category in a bowl game, sharing the honor with Johnny Manziel, of Texas A&M, and Vince Young, of Texas.

According to one report, Michael Vick at Virginia Tech had three games of at least 100 yards passing and rushing in his collegiate career. Lamar Jackson has five this season.

The UofL victory snapped a four-game bowl winning streak for the Aggies who were playing with Jake Hubenak, a third-string quarterback putting up some incredible passing numbers himself, racking up a total of 307 yards on 22 completions and a couple of touchdowns. Eleven of the completions were to wide receiver Josh Reynolds for 177 yards.

Another Hubenak target was Christian Kirk who had 10 completions. Kirk nearly had another one at the Cardinals six-yard-line inside the final two minutes. A review showed the ball had touched the ground. Hubenak had two more chances, one swatted away by Devonte Fields, the other finding an empty spot in the end zone.Petrino

“It took everybody out there to get the win,” said Coach Bobby Petrino. “I’m proud of their effort and of the team that we became.”

UofL’s defense came to play, sustaining the intensity until the very end. Fields sacked Hubenak three times and intimidated Texas A&M lineman Avery Gennesy who was tagged with false starts two consecutive times during the first half. Unfortunately, James Burgess saw only one play during his final game at Louisville, charged with targeting an A&M player despite video replays that indicated otherwise.

The Music City Bowl was far from a coming out party for Lamar Jackson. More of a confirmation that he has arrived. Another premier quarterback for a football program that has produced more than its share over the years.

Louisville fans prepare to rock Nashville

An early Christmas gift for University of Louisville football fans, Santa Claus providing another big time showdown.

One of the most challenging schedules in Louisville football history just revved up a bit with the announcement that UofL will be playing Texas A&M in the Franklin American Music City Bowl on Dec. 30.Music City Bowl

That’s okay. That’s exactly what Cardinals fans want the most, more opportunities to play traditional powers. Expect upwards of more than 30,000 UofL fans to make the two-and-a-half-hour trip to Nashville.

Bowl games are always special, extending the season, rewarding the faithful, providing extra incentive for coaches and players. The Orange Bowl, been there, done that. Sugar Bowl, Gator Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Belk Bowl, Russell Bowl, Liberty Bowl(s), the trips, each of them special.

Best to arrive a day early, enjoy all the special events, the unique attractions of the hospitality city, the university-sponsored events, mingling with all the UofL fans who make the trips, representing Louisville and the University, arriving at the stadium hours in advance. Truly special, wonderful to be a part of a program that aspires to greatness in the king of sports.

Should be plenty of motivation for UofL, which was winless in three games between the Cardinals and the Aggies under Howard Schnellenberger from 1992 to 1994. Texas A&M will be a strong opponent, finishing the regular season with an 8-4 won-lost record.  Bobby Petrino, not intimidated, was 3-0 against Texas A&M while coaching at Arkansas from 2008 to 2011.

The Cardinals, of course, lost their first three games by a total of 13 points before winning seven of their last nine games. Auburn is their only common opponent, the Tigers edging UofL 31-24 while crushing A&M 26-10.

“We continued to develop, continued to get better as the year went on, and that was really good to see,” Petrino said. “We were very young and inexperienced on offense, and we showed our struggles, particularly early in the year. But we made great improvement, and we got in position in the last part of the year where we could score points and expect to take the ball and go score when we got it.”

Petrino expects linebacker Keith Kelsey, running back Brandon Radcliff and wide receiver Jamari Staples to be healthy and ready to go when practice resumes Friday. The coach will be in the film room until then, with three weeks to prepare for Texas A&M, working on rough drafts, getting started on that script.

Early prediction from ESPN: “Both teams disappointed this season, but Louisville enters playing better football and won’t repeat last year’s bowl clunker. The Aggies offense sputters again. Louisville 28, Texas A&M 20.”