How quickly times have changed.
After an ugly 30-14 loss at Utah Saturday night, the Cardinals now have lost seven of their last eight games dating back to last season. Louisville finished the 2008 season on a five-game losing streak and have dropped their past two games to Kentucky and Utah after opening the season with a win over Indiana State.
Turnovers doomed Louisville against the Utes. The Cardinals committed three first half turnovers as Utah built a commanding 20-0 halftime lead. The loss was Louisville's sixth consecutive on the road.
Things looked good early for Louisville. The Cardinals drove to the Utah 8 yard line on their first possession on a 23 yard reception by Scott Long and 44 yard catch and run from Doug Beaumont. But Louisville continued their offensive struggles in the red zone, having to settle for a 25 yard Ryan Payne field goal attempt.
Utah blocked Payne's attempt and never looked back. On their next possession after stopping the Cardinals scoring drive, the Utes marched 81 yards in nine plays for the game's first touchdown – a 24-yard Matt Asiata run.
Leading 7-0, Utah forced a Trent Guy fumble on the Cardinals next offensive possession and recovered in Louisville territory. On the next play, Utah QB Terrance Cain connected with David Reed for a 42 yard touchdown strike and a 14-0 lead.
With 9:39 remaining in the second quarter Justin Burke was intercepted by Utah's Mike Wright. Six plays later, Joe Phillips drilled a 30 yard field goal to put Utah ahead 17-0 with 8:10 left in the half. Philips connected again from 48 yards with 1:03 in the half to give Utah a 20-0 halftime advantage.
Philips added a 24 yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to extend Utah's lead to 23-7.
The Cards answered with a nine play, 80 yard scoring drive that ended with a wild, Cameron Graham 16 yard touchdown reception that bounced off another UofL receiver into the Cardinals' tight ends hands. That made it 23-13 with 8:51 left. Louisville elected to kick the extra point instead of going for two to possibly make it a one possession game.
It didn't matter. Utah marched 80 yards for a touchdown on only seven plays to put the game away. Terrence Cain connected with Jereme Brooks for a 34 yard touchdown pass with 5:08 left on the clock.
Besides three turnovers, Louisville was further undone by an offense that couldn't get anything going on the ground – or on third down. Against a defense that came into the game allowing 200 yards rushing, Louisville managed just 80 yards on 35 carries for a putrid 2.3 yards a carry. The Cards also struggled on third down, converting only 4 of 14 attempts.
Burke completed 15 of 33 passes for 181 yards and one touchdown with an interception. Bilal Powell led the Cardinals with 25 yards rushing on 10 carries, while Doug Beaumont led UofL with four catches for 87 yards.
Cain completed 17 of 22 throws for 202 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 51 yards on 14 carries.. He also threw an interception. Eddie Wide ran for 129 yards after Matt Asiata left the game in the first quarter with an injury. Reed led the Utes in receiving with 78 yards and one score.
Louisville will next play Pittsburgh at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium Friday night in their Big East opener.