Bush optimistic he'll play against Rutgers

The only thing that could stop Louisville running back Michael Bush Thursday night against Pittsburgh was a strained left foot suffered early in the second half. Bush left game in the third quarter and didn't return. However, the junior said after the game that he's optimistic he'll play next week against Rutgers.

Michael Bush had his way against the Pittsburgh defense in Louisville's 42-20 win over the Panthers Thursday night.

The 6-foot-3, 250-pound junior running back simply proved too much to handle for Dave Wannstedt's crew. In fact, the only thing that stopped Bush against the Panthers was an injury to his left foot suffered while scoring his second rushing touchdown of the game early in the third quarter.

To that point, Bush had carried 16 times for 115 yards and two scores (5 and 3 yard runs). Bush also caught four passes for 59, converting some key third and fourth downs on screen passes from quarterback Brian Brohm.

"I thought I played pretty well," said Bush, who has rushed for 928 yards in eight games this season. "Coach did a nice job of calling the plays that we wanted to run and be effective tonight. I have to give a lot of credit to our offensive line, who have been doing a great job for us all season."

Bush will have MRI today to reveal extend of the injury
to his left foot.

And though Bush tied the U of L school record for rushing touchdowns (20) in a season set by Lenny Lyles (1957) and Eric Shelton (2004), that feat was overshadowed by the injury.

Bush left the game after sustaining a sprained left foot and didn't return. X-rays taken in the locker room showed Bush had not suffered any break or fracture. He'll have an MRI Friday morning to determine the extent of his injury, though both Bush and Louisville coach Bobby Petrino sounded optimistic that he'll play next Friday when Rutgers comes to town.

"Michael is alright," Petrino said. "After the game, he said he'd be ready for next week. The x-ray showed no break, so now it's just a matter of getting him ready for next week."

"I feel fine," Bush said following the game. "It's just one incident. I don't feel like I'm out of the game plan (for next week). I just came up a little sore but I'll be okay. I should be back for Rutgers."

Montrell Jones, a high school teammate at Male of Bush's, said he was confident Bush would return to lineup soon.

"I've know Michael a long time and I know what kind of competitor he is," Jones said. "He'll bounce back. It's good though that we have guys like Kolby (Smith) and George (Stripling) to run the ball."

After Bush went down, U of L got solid running from both Smith and Stripling. Smith, himself returning from injury after missing the Cardinals last two games (West Virginia, Cincinnati), carried 15 times for 58 yards, while Strippling had 46 yards on 10 carries. Smith also caught two passes and scored the Cardinals final touchdown.

More importantly, Smith and Strippling helped Louisville run out the clock in the fourth quarter and protect a 12 point lead. Ahead 32-20 with 9:44 left in the game, the Cardinals took over on their own 20. Combined, the two running backs carried 15 times on U of L's 16-play drive that ended with Smith's 4-yard touchdown run with just 40 seconds left on the clock.

Game, set, match.

"To have an offensive drive of eight minutes on 16 plays and to score the touchdown is really good," Petrino said.

Bush, who entered the game as the nation's scoring leader, welcomed Smith's return.

"We're glad to have him back on the field," Bush said. "He takes some of the pressure off of me. He's really a good back."

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