That is, until Mike Teel, Rutgers' annointed savior before he ever put on a uniform, giftwrapped a victory that until, that point a hard-fought and competitive first-half, for Bobby Petrino's squad and put the proverbial nail in the coffin for the Scarlet Knights.
After a 4-n-out on Rutgers' opening drive the Scarlet Knight defense took the field. Three plays, two Brohm sacks and a net of minus 4 yards later the U of L Special Teams unit was on the field ready to kick the ball back to Rutgers.
But Rutgers was on the board, and on the board first: 3-0.
Special Teams coverage has been a consistent issue of concern all year round, an issue that had yet to be resolved going into last night's game. After securing the early lead, Michael Cortese's squib quick, picked up inside the U of L 20, was returned by Sergio Spencer for 61 yards to the Rutgers 29 yard line. Sr. TB/Specialist Clarence Pittman, who until tonight had seen all of his playing time solely on Special Teams, lost outside containment on Spencer -- wiffing on the big hit instead of securing the non-highlight tackle, Pittman allowed Spencer to break to the outside and rumble downfield deep inside Rutgers territory.
Despite a solid goal line stand by the Scarlet Knight defense, Louisville would make short work and put up the necessary 7 on 7 plays.
Louisville 7 - Rutgers 3.
Rutgers' next possession amounted to 3 plays for a measly 8 yards, taking a whopping 1:07 off the clock.
A recipe for disaster: putting a defense in bad field situations and making them stay on the field for extended periods of time and the results will become evident with time ... if not now, then later.
7 plays and 67 yards later Louisville's next score came swiftly as True So. Brian Brohm disected the RU secondary, passing for 50 yards on 3 completions.
Louisville 14 - Ruters 3.
Rutgers subsequent drive began with promise as Teel connected with Clark Harris for a 23-yard completion. A Raymell Rice rush and a short completion to Brian Leonard put the Rutgers offense in a promising situation, needing to convert on a 3rd and 1, from midfield.
And slowly, the Scarlet Knights offense would begin to unravel.
A 5-yard penalty on a false start would prove decisive as Teel's 3-yard completion to Baker would not be enough to secure a second straight first down.
The Rutgers defense would rise to the occassion when they took the field next. On a 1st down from the Cards' 21, Derrick Roberson would strip the ball from Kolby Smith and the Scarlet Knights would recover.
Starting at the U of L 25-yard line Rutgers was in as good a situtation as it could hope to be. Despite the offensive ineptitude, the Scarlet Knights were 1 play away from tightening this game up.
After a Raymell Rice personal foul resulted in a loss of 15 yards (did anyone actually see this - was this call on the same level as the one that nearly torched Vanderbilt against Florida last week?) Rutgers would drive for a net of minues 13 on the drive and put up no points.
Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano would just as well punt, given the way his defense had been handling U of L's vaunted attack.
Pinning the Cards on their 10-yard line, the Rutgers defense came up big once more as Devraun Thompson's sack of Brohm became the third of the half for Rutgers.
Punting from inside his own endzone Todd Flannery's punt was blocked for a loss of 6 yards resulting in a Rutgers Safety.
Louisville 14 - Rutgers 5.
Continuing in the fashion of the day, Rutgers next possession resulted in a net of minues 5 yards. The Cardinals could not do much better as 5 plays later they were forced to punt as well.
This time, the field possession game swung in U of L's favor and Rutgers was forced to start from within its own 5 yard line.
With 3:10 remaining, one thought was on the minds of the Rutgers staff. Get out trailing 14-5, tweak some things offensively at half-time and extend this game into the fourth quarter.
After a Leonard rush for 10 yards resulted in a Rutgers first down it seemed that the Knights would escape the first half in decent shape. After minimal gains on first and second down, Louisville would stop the clock in hope of securing one last possession before halftime.
On 3rd and 10 the unthinkable happened.
Mike Teel lofted a pass downfield, that had it been thrown 5-yards further would have resulted in Rutgers' biggest offensive play of the day, that was easily plucked from the air by Jon Russell.
Rusell would return the ball to the Rutgers 4-yard line. Fifty seconds remained.
And Rutgers was not able to leave the first half in relatively decent shape.
Despite a very solid defensive performance where Rutgers controlled the LOS, put enough pressure on one of the nation's top passers to make him wary, the Scarlet Knights found themselves down 21-5.
And as Warner Wolf would say so casually for so many years, "Turn your sets off there folks."