The Cardinals national championship dreams were dashed with their loss to sixth-ranked Rutgers and fell from No. 3 to No. 10 in the BCS standings. Louisville's BCS bowl hopes are also now in serious jeopardy and they'll need some help from Cincinnati and West Virginia to resurrect them.
"The last couple of days have been difficult," Petrino said Monday afternoon at his weely press conference. "It's a lot more fun when you win than when you lose, but our players will be back."
"The biggest thing is our team coming back from the loss and getting their minds right and physically and mentally being fresh and at full speed," Petrino added. "That's what we're working at the hardest right now."
One day after falling 28-25 to Rutgers, Petrino called an important team meeting to help his troops recover from their first setback of the season.
"We brought them in on Friday and talked a lot about how to respond," Petrino said. "It was certainly a positive meeting. It was not any hard, long chewing out film session or anything like that. It was about playing the game of football and playing it better."
Petrino has two big challenges this week, getting his players back in the right frame of mind and preparing them for a tough 7-3 South Florida team that upset them last season 45-17 in Tampa.
"They remind you of the talent that Miami brought in here with their speed on defense and the way their front rushes the passer," Petrino said. "They probably have the best linebackers we'll face. They're probably the best in the league and they've got good cover guys. It's going to be a big challenge for us."
The Bulls, bowl eligible for the second year in a row, beat Syracuse last Saturday.
"We've had two big emotional games and now we have to do it again," Petrino said. "We have to rely on our competitiveness and leadership from within the team."