The bad news: The Cardinals lost star running back Michael Bush in the process.
Bush rushed for 124 yards and three touchdowns in the first half as the Cardinals took a 31-14 lead into the locker. On U of L's second offensive play of the third quarter, Bush's season ended when he broke his right leg after landing awkwardly on a tackle by Kentucky linebacker Wesley Woodyard.
"The loss of Michael Bush was devastating and it was tough for our team," U of L coach Bobby Petrino said after the game. "It's always hard to bounce back when you lose a player, especially a guy like Michael who means so much to this program. It's a very unfortunate part of the game, but it happens all over the country. It really hurts to see it with him because of what he's put into this program."
With Bush out, the Cardinals could have folded. They didn't.
Junior quarterback Brian Brohm showed no ill effects after a grueling nine month rehab. The U of L signal caller threw for 254 yards and one touchdown. With Bush out, sophomore George Stripling and senior Kolby Smith took up the slack.
George Stripling carried the load for the U of L
offense after Michael Bush broke his leg in the
second half. (AP)
Stripling, a jet-fast 195-pound back, carried nine times for 91 yards and two touchdowns, including a 38 yarder down the right sideline. Smith carried 12 times for 67 yards as the Cardinals steam-rolled through UK's defense for 363 rushing yards. True freshman Anthony Allen finished off the ‘Cats, gaining 48 yards on nine carries. Allen scored Louisville's final touchdown with 3:52 to play.
"Losing a guy like Michael Bush, he's irreplaceable," said Brohm. "You can't replace him with one guy. But we have a team of guys like George Stripling, Kolby Smith and Anthony Allen that can come in and try to replace him. Michael is irreplaceable and I really feel bad for him. He'll be back, he's a tough guy."
"Kolby and George are very good running backs, and they played really well last year when Michael was out (with injury)," Petrino said. "We will miss having a guy that physical in the backfield, but we're still very fast and athletic. Our guys will step up and play very well without Michael."
While Louisville was churning out huge chucks of yardage on the ground, Kentucky couldn't get going, as the Cardinals held highly-touted Wildcat running back Raphael Little to just 21 yards.
"One of our biggest disappointments was our inability to slow their running game down," Kentucky's Rich Brooks said. "They just crushed us with their running game. We played way to soft on defense particularly on the perimeter."
Harry Douglas caught five passes for 87 yards to lead U of L's wide receivers. Pat Carter, a junior transfer from Georgia Tech, caught three passes for 48 yards, while Mario Urrutia had two receptions for 51 yards.
UK quarterback Andre Woodson completed just 9-24 passes for 231 yards and two scores. The Wildcat starter was sacked three times.
Reserve quarterback Curtis Pulley didn't have the best debut. His fumble in the end zone was recovered by U of L defensive end Zach Anderson for a fourth quarter touchdown.
Keenan Burton caught four passes for 127, including a 73 touchdown reception in the second quarter. Burton, a Louisville native, also returned a fourth quarter kick-off 100 yards for a touchdown.
Louisville gained 631 yards of total offense, while holding Kentucky to just 260 yards and eight first downs. The Cardinals won the time of possession battle 38-22.
"I think we came out and played a good game," Brohm said. "We finished pretty well. We scored on our first drive and that's what we wanted to do. We a really good performance."
Louisville will travel to Philadelphia where they'll face Temple next Saturday.