With All-American wide receiver DeVante Parker sidelined with a sprained right shoulder, the University of Louisville football needed someone else to step up.
Senior Damian Copeland told wide receivers coach Ron Dugans and several of his teammates before the game that he was going to be that guy.
And Copeland was spot on.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound helped lead the Cardinals to a 24-10 win over Rutgers with eight catches for 115 yards on Thursday night.
"Copeland has been playing well even when we had (Parker) in there," U of L coach Charlie Strong said. "He had some big (catches) there.
"Cope is playing well."
Copeland said he told several teammates he was going to get 100-plus yards on the national TV game and he surpassed the 100-yard mark for the first time in his career. He also had a career high with the eight catches.
"I felt it in practice," Copeland said. "It's all in your mind and I knew I was going to have a big game. I wanted to get 100 yards."
A key member of last year's Sugar Bowl team, Copeland has been one of the top targets for Teddy Bridgewater the entire season. But with Parker out, Copeland was targeted even more against Rutgers.
Bridgewater said Copeland is "Mr. Reliable" for the Cardinals.
"He's always in the right place at the right time and he's a detailed player and it showed tonight with his performance," Bridgewater said. "He lays it all on the line for this team every single week."
Bridgewater was upset he missed Copeland in the fourth quarter when he was wide open near the end zone. The pass sailed out of bounds.
"He's human," Copeland said of Bridgewater.
Copeland now has 23 catches for 379 yards and three touchdowns this season and 81 catches for 1,120 yards and five TDs for his career.
While he has been a key target before, Copeland said every member of the team – especially the wide receivers – gave it a little extra in this one.
"We knew on Monday that DeVante wasn't going to go," Copeland said. "As a receiver, we wanted to go out there and dedicate this game to him. We wanted to make the plays that we could from the position."