Bush rushed for 128 yards and three touchdowns in just over two quarters of action. Then, just 3:34 into the second half, Bush's season – and Heisman Trophy dreams – ended abruptly.
A broken right leg, sustained after he landed awkwardly on a Wesley Woodyard tackle, ended Bush's season and sent him to the hospital for immediate treatment. Bush was down for several minutes, then was carted to an ambulance waiting behind the north end zone. While riding off the field, Bush waved to the more than 42,000 fans in attendance, seemingly encouraging them to get behind his teammates in his absence.
"They just told me he had a broken leg and that they'd know more in the morning," U of L coach Bobby Petrino said after the game.
Considered one of the top pro prospects at his position, Bush's loss creates a major void for Petrino to fill.
"It was a very unfortunate injury," Petrino said. "It certainly was devastating to him and it certainly hurts our football team. But the one thing that we do know is that Michael will come back from it."
Bush was on his way to a monster
performance against Kentucky before a
second half injury cost the star back his
Though Bush's injury rattled some of his teammates immediately after it occurred, quarterback Brian Brohm and the Louisville offense settled down to finish off the Wildcats for the fourth straight year and seven time in the past eight contests.
"We did have some guys with their heads down because you hate to lose a guy like that," Petrino said. "He was our team leader when we returned from the bowl game and to see him play the way he did in the first half was a great sight. Our guys did step up and play well after that."
Kentucky wide receiver Keenan Burton, a childhood friend of Bush's, gave the Cardinals top running back some encouraging words before he departed the field for the hospital.
"I told Michael that I was there for him," said the UK standout. "He understands that, and I told him that he will bounce back like he always does. It means so much to me that he is successful and that he feels the same way about me. You hate to see people go down like that."
In Bush's absence, Louisville still managed to run wild over the Kentucky defense. The Cardinals rushed for 363 yards, with sophomore George Stripling getting 91 yards, Kolby Smith rushing for 66 yards and true freshman Anthony Allen gaining 48 yards.
"It's always hard to bounce back when you lose a player, especially a guy like Michael who means so much to this program," Petrino said. "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."
Bush, who played as a true freshman and hasn't yet burned his redshirt, could conceivably return to U of L next year for a fifth season of eligibility.
"He doesn't need a medical redshirt because he's never used his redshirt," Petrino said. "Hopefully, he'll heal up as fast as he can and we'd love to have him back for another year. That'll be up to Michael and his family and they'll make the best decision for him."