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GMAC Bowl Preview

Preview of the Cardinals versus the RedHawks in today's GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. <P> <B>ITV Event:</B> <a href=""><B>ITV Bowl Bash @ the BBC!</b></a>

Louisville v. #15 Miami (OH)
December 18, 2003 | 7:30 a.m.
Ladd-Pebbles Stadium | Mobile, Ala.
espn 2 | 840 WHAS


Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino

Coach Petrino (AP)

On Miami:  They're just a great football team.  Obviously their offense concerns us a bunch, anytime you have a quarterback who can execute like that, and with the supporting cast he has. Both offenses have been hard to stop all year long. Hopefully we can keep up."

Miami head coach Terry Hoeppner

On 12-game winning streak:  "We have a lot to prove.  We have the longest winning streak in the nation, which is pretty cool.  And we have a chance to win 13 games, a chance to make history."

On facing Louisville:  "We're definitely going to have our hands full. It's not going to be a game of attrition where you wear the other guys down. It's inevitable that there are going to be some big plays in this game."




  • The Cardinals are appearing in their sixth consecutive bowl game and are 4-5-1 all-time in bowl games.  U of L is however, 0-2 when playing against MAC opponents in bowls.

  • The Louisville offense, which is averaging nearly 490 yards a game, ranks 5th in the NCAA.

  • The 2003 Cardinal offense finished the regular season just shy of a number of school records.  The team produced the 2nd most in school history in total offense, scoring offense, touchdowns, rushing touchdowns and total plays.
  • Quarterback Stefan LeFors

    Stefan LeFors (ITV)
    3,277 all-purpose yards makes him just the 4th Cardinal to ever eclipse the 3,000 mark in one season.
  • Louisville's 445 rushing yards against Houston this season is the 4th most in school history.

  • The Cardinal offensive line has allowed just 10 sacks through 12 games this season, compared to 46 sacks a year ago.

  • Louisville is 8-0 this season when leading after three quarters and has given up just 67 points during the final period.

  • Louisville has three rushers with 300 or more total yards for the first time in school history, led by sophomore Eric Shelton's 756-yards.

  • First-year head coach Bobby Petrino became the winningest first-year head coach in Cardinal history this season.


  • The RedHawks are participating in the program's first bowl game since 1986 and are 5-2 all-time in bowl games.
  • Miami ranks No. 14 in all-time winning percentage at 63.5.
  • Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger

    Ben Roethlisberger (AP)
    was named the MAC Offensive Player of the Year and the league's MVP.
  • Miami average's one of the nation's largest margin of victory by outscoring their opponents by 23.74 points a game.
  • Miami has scored 174 points following an opponent's turnover, and eight times this season the RedHawks have scored two or more touchdowns off turnovers.
  • The RedHawks are fifth in the nation in scoring, with an average of 42.5 points per outing.

  • Punt returner Ryne Robinson ranks 2nd in the NCAA with an average of 18.2 yards per return.
  • Martin Nance averages 102.2 receiving yards a game, ranking him 7th in the country.

  • Miami's passing offense, led by Ben Roethlisberger, averages 261.2 yards a game, placing the team 4th in the NCAA.
  • Miami also ranks high in turnover margain at 4th in the country.  The RedHawks average 1.3 takeaways a game.

  • Since becoming the RedHawks head coach, Terry Hoeppner has seen his team give few 4th quarter leads away.  During the five-year span, Miami is 36-3 when leading at the start of the 4th quarter.


Rushing Offense 227.4 155.6
Passing Offense 261.2 338.2
Total Offense 488.6 493.8
Scoring Offense 35.2 42.5
Rushing Defense 166.1 102.0
Passing Defense 248.5 227.5
Total Defense 414.6 329.5
Scoring Defense 26.0 18.8
Net Punting 36.1 35.3
Punt Returns 9.2 17.6
Kickoff Returns 19.2 16.6
Turnover Margain +6 +16


The Cardinal defense is going to face it's most difficult challenge of the year against the 14th-ranked Miami RedHawks.  Miami ranks among the nations best in most offensive categories, while the Louisville defense ranks in the bottom half of most defensive categories.

Ladd-Peebles Stadium 

Miami has relied on two things all season all...big offensive plays and turnovers.  The Cardinal secondary must play tight coverage and contain the RedHawk receivers to short yardage receptions.  A key to solid secondary play will depend highly on the ability of the U of L defensive front, as well as the outside blitz from the safety and linebacker spots, to get consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback.  Problem is the Miami offensive line has allowed less than two sacks per contest.

Offensively, the Cardinals will face a formidable defense.  Miami's defense has forced nearly two turnovers a game and has recorded 43 sacks on the season.  Louisville's offense should be able to move the ball in a similar fashion as the TCU game, when Coach Petrino utilized tight end Ronnie Ghent and running back Lionel Gates with quick passes, effectively neutralizing the opposing rush.  The return of Eric Shelton could play a vital role, but I expect that if Shelton doesn't get impressive yardage, that the combination of Gates and Michael Bush will.

Special teams is also a major concern for the Cardinals, especially punt returns.  Miami boasts of having the nation's second best punt returner, so solid coverage and tackling is a must.

Louisville falls one defensive stand short....Miami 44 Louisville 38.

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