Rankings provide motivation, focus for Cards

"Our players are certainly excited about the rankings and the coaches are excited and proud," Petrino said. "The rankings ensure that we'll be focused on the Houston game this week."

There's considerable excitement at the University of Louisville football complex today. Not only did the 7-1 Cardinals jump to No.8 in the Associated Press poll and No. 11 in the USA Today/ESPN poll, but they also climbed four spots in the BCS standings from No. 14 to No.10, the highest ranking in the program's history.

With a two game lead over Southern Mississippi, Cincinnati, and UAB in Conference USA, the Cardinals can assure themselves of a share of their third league title with a win over Houston (3-7, 3-4) this Saturday.

And even though U of L just completed a successful three game stretch against South Florida, Memphis and TCU, U of L Head Coach Bobby Petrino said the program's lofty ranking should ensure there's no let down on the road this week against Houston.

"Our players are certainly excited about the rankings and the coaches are excited and proud," Petrino said. "The rankings ensure that we'll be focused on the Houston game this week."

"That's where all our focus has to go and we have go down and play well against Houston and win that game," Petrino continued. "We're definitely not going to let up."

Steadily climbing in the polls the past several weeks, Petrino credits playing on ESPN the past four games with showing poll voters exactly what his Cardinals are capable of doing on the field.

"I think being on national TV the last four weeks and playing well has helped everyone see what we're capable of doing," Petrino said.

With this week's No. 10 ranking, U of L finds itself positioned just four spots from being gauranteed a spot in one of the four BCS bowls (Orange, Sugar, Fiesta and Rose). Does Petrino think it possible to reach that status?

"I'm not sure," Petrino said. "If we play well and take care of our business you don't know what's going to happen with other teams. So I'm not sure where we can end up."

"The ranking should motivate us to prepare properly and go out and prepare like we can," Petrino continue. "I think it's really going to help us focus and be more hungry and get a taste of where we think we could end up if we take care of our business."

The rankings have also created a buzz among the players, including sophomore defensive tackle Amobi Okoye and junior receiver/punt returner Montrell Jones.

"We think we deserve our ranking," Okoye said. "We have no doubt in ourselves."

"To be ranked No. 8 in the country is pretty exciting," Jones added. "We have talent on both sides of the ball and it's showing in our play on the field and in our rankings."

With the highest ranking in the program's history it's logical to assume the players and coaches would feel a sense of satisifaction. However, Petrino said that's not the case.

"Last night I asked the team if they were satisfied being ranked No.8 and they all said they weren't," Petrino said. "We're still hungry because we can still achieve every goal we set before the season."


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