Showdown time for the University of Louisville football program against Florida State. Decades in the making, a chance to knock off the No. 2 team in America at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
Take it from someone who has been following UofL athletics for well past six decades: Sitting behind the post at Fairgrounds Stadium for years, dreaming of opportunities like this, actually seeing it come to fruition. One of those seminal moments that keeps long-time fans awake at night and gets them out of bed early on game day. A nationally televised game, a record crowd, a team with nothing to lose and everything to gain, lining up against a perennial power with a 23-game winning streak.
A pivotal event straight ahead, staring UofL partisans in the face, beckoning, challenging and teasing them, the UofL football program arriving at a crucial fork in the road. The coaches and players confronted with one their greatest challenges ever, motivating them, daring them to scale the heights. But knowing that adrenalin is no substitute for consistency and execution against a program with a solid football reputation and a long winning tradition.
The time for a young quarterback and an improving offensive line to reach inside, determine how they want to be remembered, and advance to the next level. A chance for the wide receivers to prove they are the best in America (they haven’t yet). The stiffest test thus far for a defensive unit that has made it possible for UofL fans to envision a victory over a Florida State, needing to stop 6-foot-4, 230-pound Heisman-winning quarterback Jameis Winston, proving he’s human, preventing him from making UofL just another victim in a long line of many. Punish him for transgressions on and off the field.
Whether this is the biggest game in UofL history is debatable. It would be hard to top wins in the Fiesta Bowl, the Orange Bowl and the Sugar Bowl. The next game is always the most important, regardless of the foe. One must admit, however, that Florida State looms much larger than most, definitely the biggest regular season game in several years.
UofL has already arrived at the next level, but it’s only the beginning. Time to take the next step and move on. Win this one and there will be even bigger games ahead.