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.”

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Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.