What a difference a week makes! After Memphis embarrassed the Cards and held them to season-low 7 points, UofL comes back versus Houston and scores 66. The all red look worked wonders just like it did when Petrino was the Offensive Coordinator in '98.
The "O" was highlighted by Lionel Gates' 291 all purpose yards (140 rushing and 91 receiving) and 4 TDs. The offense amassed a school record 779 yards of total yards. LeFors was back to his regular accurate self, connecting on 24 of 31 passing for 334 yards and 2 TDs with no picks. Perhaps the most notable stat is that he sprayed balls to ten different receivers. Utility man Michael Bush enjoyed his most productive day as a Cardinal, gaining 137 yards on just 15 carries. The Male High product also ran for 2 TDs.
To nobody's surprise, J.R. Russell led the way once again among the receiving corps with 9 catches. Ronnie Ghent continued to make an impact in this offense grabbing 4 passes for 65 yards and a score. This was exactly the kind of game Louisville needed to close out the season. They are now a lock for their 6th consecutive bowl appearance and have a chance to post the school's 3rd double digit win season if they can beat UC Friday and the bowl opponent in late December.
The offense wasn't the only part of the program to pass a huge test after last week's UM game. Coach Petrino showed that after a very disheartening loss and a week full of Petrino-to-Auburn rumors, that he can get his team focused on the task at hand and win. Hopefully, the best AD (or VP) in the nation can look him up for awhile so the fans don't have to worry every mid-November about their coach leaving.
The Cardinals' defensive play wasn't spectacular, but it got some sacks and turnovers, something they didn't get in the last two contests. The "bend but don't break" defense was in full-effect the entire game, with the "breaking" in the first half and "bending" in the second.
Marcus Jones was a busy man, being in on what seemed like every play. Rod Day was flying all over the field making stops. Tyrone Saterfield got some good pressure on UH's talented Freshman QB Kevin Kolb. Antoine Harris returned to action and made some plays as well.
While this team's defense isn't the most daunting, they are getting the job done when they have to. A perfect example of this was in the second half when Houston drove form their 20 to UofL's and the Cards stopped them inside their 20 and forced UH to kick a field goal. That attempt was blocked and pretty much sealed the deal for the UofL victory.
Nothing to really brag about here. The Cards gave up a kickoff return for a score, the first one allowed this year. Another first for the Cards this year was Nate Smith getting his PAT blocked late in the first half. Broderick Clark simply doesn't look like the same person we saw last year, spending more time running his mouth than running kicks back. Robert Haskins had some good punt returns, firmly planting himself that role full time.
The Cards will travel up I-71 to battle the Cincinnati Bearcats for the Keg of Nails. UC has really struggled since upsetting West Virginia earlier this year. A mob of Cardinal fans are expected to make the trip for this game. Maybe they can collectively make up for the poor showing the last two weeks at PJCS. (Even though most of them will be the same red and black backers in DO show up for the home games.) Look for the Big East to work with UofL and UC to make this an annual last game of the season type rivalry. While it appears the Cards will be crooning "Tiny Bubbles" as they head to Honolulu for the Hawaii Bowl, nothing is official yet.