OUCH! Louisville falls 45-14 at South Florida

From the moment the Cardinals walked onto the field at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday night, it was clear that the host South Florida Bulls were ready and prepared to play. In the first Big East Conference game for both programs, the Bulls dominated the visiting Cardinals 45-14.

During my return ride home from Raymond James Stadium late Saturday night I was reminded by one of the many disappointed Cardinal fans on board the Rick and Jeff tour bus of the fall the Cardinal mascot took during the team's pregame entrance and how it foretold the unbelievable game that was about to unfold.

While the players entering the field avoided the briefly fallen mascot, they might as well have run him over, because the host South Florida Bulls did just that for each of the 60 minutes of the game, completely dominating Louisville 45-14.

To be honest, the last thing that I want to do about this game is write a recap. It's not going to happen. I will not force myself to relive those four quarters. I would hope that you'd be on my side with this one. I mean, c'mon, one of the hit's that sophomore quarterback Brian Brohm took on Saturday night was used as part of the intro to ESPN's SportsCenter. No game recap is coming from these fingers.

Do you really want to read about how the moment I walked on the field - which was an hour and half before the game - the USF students in the end zone were talking smack to anyone that didn't wear something with a Bull logo on it and that as the team entered the stadium for the first time on Saturday that they noticed the early presence of the home team's fans?

Prior to kickoff, a few fans began a discussion with one of the home-friendly security guards about the possibility of bringing down the goalpost should South Florida win. The fan was quickly told that no matter what happens, the goalposts were not coming down.

At the time I found that humerous. The thought of U of L losing to USF, especially in this fashion, never entered my mind.

However, the rapidly-growing student section continued with the pregame antics as the team warmed up and no one in the stadium - much less the team - could ignore the colorful comments. The soon-to-be previously 8th-ranked Cardinals had clearly noticed and by the time the game kicked-off they had to feel as if they had already played a quarter.

I could bring up that the moment I watched the field goal attempt by NCAA record-setting kicker Art Carmody bounce off the upright that I could sense that the game wasn't going to be as easy as so many (the Cardinals entered the game a 20-point favorite) had expected.

I could write about how despite the slow start, most still believed that the visiting Cardinals would make a comeback and win the school it's first Big East Conference football win.

"We thought we had good energy at halftime and I thought our players really believed that we could come back and do it and just the opposite happened," U of L head coach Bobby Petrino said about the 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by USF's Chad Simpson to open the second half.

"We were ready to go out there and turn things around," said quarterback Brian Brohm, who threw for 389-yards in the loss. "We just weren't getting it done all-around."

I have a hard time finding the positives following a game like this one. I thought freshman defensive lineman Earl Heyman played well, as did senior receiver Montrell Jones - for the most part. However, this team just looked like one that prepared for a USF offense that it didn't see and that played as if it could just show up.

"I did not do a good job of getting the team prepared," said Petrino, who went on to say that USF head coach Jim Leavitt's squad outplayed his in every aspect of the game. "They had a good game plan. They played faster than we did. They hit harder than we did. So, basically we got out-coached and out-played."

This one hurts. That's obvious. One can't help but wonder how much it will hurt. How will effect the program's national image? Could this game have an effect on recruiting? While there is no definate answer right now, there is no doubt that it will make the recruiting efforts a touch more difficult for at least a few weeks and possibly longer.

However, how the current Cardinals react to this disappointing loss is the more pressing question that Petrino and his staff have to face.

"There is still a lot of football to play," Petrino said. "This will challenge our character, see how tough we are and see if we can pull our team together. We're certainly going to go back out there and work as hard as we can."

"We're certainly either going to come together or we're going to fall apart," he continued. "I'm hoping that we'll come together.

The Cardinals will have an opportunity to come together when Howard Schnellenberger brings his Florida Atlantic team to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium for the school's homecoming on October 1st.

"We just have to go one week at a time," said Brohm. "A lot of our goals are still out there."

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