And so was the University of Louisville football team.
The Cardinals were switched on on offense and defense, and that meant one thing - lights out Kansas State.
UofL dominated the Wildcats for the first three quarters on their way to a 38-29 win in front of 42,208 fans at PJCS, and a nationally- televised audience on ESPN2.
Redshirt freshman running back Victor Anderson rushed for a career- high 176 yards and three touchdowns on only 18 carries and senior quarterback Hunter Cantwell was 22 of 33 for 274 yards and two TDs as the Cards left memories of that 27-2 season-opening loss to archrival Kentucky in their rearview mirror.
"As a team we've gotten a lot better," Anderson said. "The line is blocking better, the quarterback is making good decisions and the receivers are catching the ball."
Kansas State Wednesday night at PJCS.
UofL (2-1), which struggled mightily on offense in that first game, rolled up 577 yards of total offense (303 rushing, 274 passing) against these Wildcats despite being without left tackle George Bussey and left guard Mark Wetterer due to injuries.
"We've come a long way, but we've still got a long way to go," UofL coach Steve Kragthorpe said. "I'm proud of the way our guys played tonight...We've started to turn the corner, but I don't think we've fully turned it yet."
K-State (2-1), which had beaten North Texas 45-6 and Montana State 69-10 in its first two games, came in third nationally in scoring (57 points per game) and also third in pass defense (104 yards per game) and sixth in total defense (198 ypg). But it left with numbers nowhere near that.
Meanwhile UofL had its best offensive game since rolling up 671 yards against Temple in September of 2006. Senior fullback Brock Bolen added 104 yards rushing and sophomore wide receiver had nine catches for 119 yards.
But they weren't the only bright lights Wednesday night for the Cards. The defense, other than two long fourth-period pass plays, held K-State in check most of the night.
UofL, which came in fifth nationally in rushing defense (48 yards per game), held limited the Wildcats to just 30 rushing yards on 12 carries. The Cards also forced three K-State turnovers, including Woodny Turenne's two interceptions of Wildcat quarterback Josh Freeman. Freeman, who came in ranked third nationally in passing efficiency, was 22 of 42 for 313 yards with three TDs and the two picks.
After both teams missed scoring opportunities on their first possession - K-State on a fumble and UofL when it was stopped on fourth down on the Wildcats 8 - Freeman got his team on the scoreboard first.
Starting at his own 31 Freeman rushed for eight yards, then completed three straight passes of 6, 10 and 45 yards - the last one a TD pass to Brandon Banks. On a first-and-10 from the Louisville 45 Freeman found the 5-foot-7 Banks wide open across the middle of the field, and the speedy receiver did the rest, scoring with 21 seconds left in the period.
But the Cards came right back and tied the score on their ensuing possession, driving 80 yards in 14 plays. Cantwell worked the Wildcats with his arm and legs on the drive. He completed 5 of 8 passes for 63 yards and ran for a key first down as UofL faced fourth-and-3 at the K-State 30.
Two plays later he connected with Josh Chichester for an 18-yard TD.
"We were going to be aggressive tonight," Kragthorpe said. "We were going to take some shots down the field tonight and be aggressive in terms of running the football and I thought Hunter was very efficient tonight."
UofL's D came up large later in the first half as Turenne intercepted Freeman at the K-State 27 with a little less than four minutes remaining before halftime.
Anderson scored two plays later, on a 29-yard TD run, to give UofL the lead. Chris Philpott's PAT kick gave the Cards a 14-7 lead.
The Cards missed a chance to add to their lead just before halftime, but Philpott missed a 31-yard field goal try wide left as the first half ended.
Still, UofL continued to build on its momentum from the end of the first half at the start the second half. The Cards took the opening kickoff of the third quarter and drove 80 yards in just eight plays. Cantwell capped the drive with a 13-yard TD pass to Troy Pascley.
Philpott missed the PAT, but UofL still led 20-7.
Momentum swung back to K-State, though, on Deon Murphy's 86-yard punt return for a TD. Murphy fielded Cory Goettsche's punt and the Cards appeared to have him corralled inside the K-State 20, but Murphy squirted free and sprinted for a potential tide-changing TD.
But it wasn't, as one big play canceled out another. On the fifth play of UofL's ensuing drive Anderson took a handoff and broke off around the right end before spinning back to the middle of the field, and avoiding a would-be tackler in the process, and going 56 yards for a touchdown. Cantwell hit Doug Beaumont with a two-point conversion pass and UofL took a 28-14 lead with 6:04 to play in the third period.
Anderson added a 27-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter.
Freeman sandwiched two long TD passes (52 yards to Jeron Mastrud and 59 yards to Banks) around a 36-yard field goal by Tim Dougherty, who was subbing for Philpott, in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile without Bussey and Wetterer, who were both out with high ankle sprains, Greg Tomczyk and Josh Byrom filled in ably as the Wildcats only sacked Cantwell twice.
UofL begins Big East play at 8 p.m. next Friday when it hosts Connecticut.
"We've got to look forward to the Big East and keep our eyes on the prize," Anderson said.