Cardinal Football

With “The Show” Coming To Town, Petrino & His Team Only Focusing On Themselves

Photo: Pete Cautilli

Photo: Pete Cautilli

Despite coming off back-to-back 2-10 seasons without winning a conference game, one member of the Kentucky football staff was very confident in the Wildcats as the program entered year two of the Mark Stoops era.

Offensive coordinator Neal Brown made it very clear that he expected his offense to be much improved this season. Brown also wanted Kentucky fans to believe that the Wildcat football was “the show in town.”

“We talked about this the other day – there’s no NBA team, there’s no major league baseball team. There’s no NFL team. So UK athletics is it,” Brown told the media in April. “The other team (Louisville) doesn’t want to hear that, but it’s it. We’re the show in town, in the state.”

Seven month later I’m still not sure what in the hell Brown was talking about. However, just six weeks ago he didn’t look quite as foolish as he does now. Kentucky got off to a 5-1 start and at that time, it appeared that we’d be in for a competitive Governor’s Cup match-up to close the regular season.

Unfortunately for Kentucky, their season took a turn for the worse. The Wildcats have now lost five straight games by a combined 128 points and average of 25.6 points.

Despite Bobby Petrino’s passionate desire to embarrass Kentucky, he claims that his team is focusing only on themselves.

“All we’re concerned about is ourselves,” Petrino said during the ACC coaches teleconference. “We need to go out and have a great week of practice and really focus and do a great job preparing and go out what do what we need to do.”

Petrino also says that despite Kentucky’s recent struggles, they’ll still be a challenge for Louisville.

“They’re a good football team They have a quarterback who can throw and run, receivers who can make some plays down the field, and a defensive front that can bring a lot of pressure. We know that this is going to be a great challenge for us.”

Louisville Received Some Big Time National TV Exposure In South Bend On Saturday

AP Photo: Nam Y. Huh

AP Photo: Nam Y. Huh

Brian Kelly and the Notre Dame fighting Irish aren’t exactly having a great season, but getting a road win in South Bend is always great exposure considering the national attention that Notre Dame receives.

In fact, Louisville’s win on Saturday may have gotten the Cardinal program more exposure than expected.

According to Sports Business Daily, on Saturday afternoon NBC Sports had its highest rated Notre Dame finale in four years.

Saturday’s Louisville-Notre Dame game drew a 2.2 overnight rating on NBC Saturday afternoon, which is up 29% from both BYU/Notre Dame last year and Wake Forest/Notre Dame in 2012 (1.7 both years).

The 2.2 is the highest for NBC’s Notre Dame season finale since a primetime game against Army in 2010 (2.3).

This is the second game of the season where Louisville drew a huge national television audience. The Cardinals Oct. 30 loss to Florida State was ESPN’s highest overnight rating for a college football telecast on all four ESPN networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU & ESPN News). It was the ninth highest rated telecast since 2000.

Louisville fans should never underestimate the significance of being in the ACC. The Cards played in South Bend on Saturday afternoon in front of 80,795 fans. Cincinnati played against Connecticut in East Hartford, CT., on Saturday evening in front of less than 25,000 fans.

Video: Louisville’s Triumphant Win Over Notre Dame

NAM Y. HUH/ASSOCIATED PRESS

NAM Y. HUH/ASSOCIATED PRESS

With Louisville’s big win over Notre Dame on Saturday afternoon in South Bend, our friend @CrumsRevenge of TheCrunchZone.com went back into his laboratory to put together this masterpiece. Enjoy!

Tús Nua (a new beginning) from @CrumsRevenge on Vimeo.

Louisville Opens As 14-Point Favorites Over Kentucky

Andy Lyons | Getty Images

Andy Lyons | Getty Images

Bobby Petrino and the Louisville Cardinals have opened up as 14-point favorites over the Kentucky Wildcats in Saturday’s annual battle for the Governor’s Cup.

NEXT GAME – SATURDAY NOV. 29, 2014
Matchup Current Line/Total Time
Kentucky 12:00 PM
Louisville -14

Considering how each team has played in the last few weeks I don’t think this is all that surprising. Louisville picked up their eighth win of the season on Saturday knocking off Notre Dame on the road. Kentucky has lost their last five games after starting 5-1.

Kentucky hasn’t beaten an opponent that they were double-digit underdogs to since Oct. of 2009 when they upset Auburn. They’ve since went 0-27 when they’re double-digit dogs.

Louisville has covered the spread in four of their last six games.

Kentucky has lost their last five games by a total of 128 points and average of 25.6 points.

Louisville Up To No. 23 In The Coaches Poll & No. 24 In The AP Poll

Jim Rogash - Getty Images

Jim Rogash – Getty Images

After their road win against Notre Dame on Saturday, Bobby Petrino and the Louisville Cardinals have landed back in the top 25 of both major polls. Louisville is ranked at No. 24 in the AP Poll and No. 23 in the Coaches Poll

AP Top 25
RK TEAM RECORD PTS
1 Florida State (37) 11-0 1458
2 Alabama (21) 10-1 1445
3 Oregon (2) 10-1 1393
4 Mississippi State 10-1 1301
5 Baylor 9-1 1234
6 TCU 9-1 1233
7 Ohio State 10-1 1163
8 Georgia 9-2 1002
9 UCLA 9-2 998
10 Michigan State 9-2 971
11 Kansas State 8-2 898
12 Arizona 9-2 807
13 Arizona State 9-2 790
14 Wisconsin 9-2 764
15 Auburn 8-3 597
16 Georgia Tech 9-2 581
17 Missouri 9-2 525
18 Ole Miss 8-3 398
19 Marshall 11-0 384
20 Oklahoma 8-3 363
21 Colorado State 10-1 346
22 Minnesota 8-3 232
23 Clemson 8-3 198
24 Louisville 8-3 191
25 Boise State 9-2 96
USA Today Poll
RK TEAM RECORD PTS
1 Alabama (25) 10-1 1474
2 Florida State (30) 11-0 1462
3 Oregon (6) 10-1 1431
4 Mississippi State 10-1 1323
5 TCU 9-1 1259
6 Baylor 9-1 1242
7 Ohio State 10-1 1191
8 Michigan State 9-2 1052
9 Georgia 9-2 1002
10 UCLA 9-2 963
11 Kansas State 8-2 912
12 Arizona 9-2 818
13 Arizona State 9-2 783
14 Wisconsin 9-2 758
15 Georgia Tech 9-2 615
16 Auburn 8-3 565
17 Missouri 9-2 560
18 Oklahoma 8-3 420
19 Ole Miss 8-3 390
20 Marshall 11-0 383
21 Colorado State 10-1 304
22 Minnesota 8-3 256
23 Louisville 8-3 208
24 Clemson 8-3 203
25 Boise State 9-2 85

Next Week’s Governor’s Cup Match-Up Slated For A Noon Kickoff

James Crisp - Associated Press

James Crisp – Associated Press

The Louisville football team will have their only noon kickoff of the season next Saturday when they host in-state rival Kentucky.

The ACC announced on Satuday evening that the Louisville – Kentucky match-up will kick off at noon and will be televised on ESPN2.

Kentucky got off to a 5-1 start this season, but have since lost five straight games. A win over Louisville would grant Kentucky bowl eligibility for the first time in four years.

Louisville has won the last three games in the Governor’s Cup rivalry.

This will be the first time the two teams will play each other in the final week of the regular season. Since renewing the rivalry in 1994, this game took place as the season opener up until 2006. At that point the game started being played in week three during the years it was in Lexington.

The future of this series appeared to be in question when the SEC was considering moving to a nine game league schedule. However, the in Oct. it was announced that the series had been renewed until 2019.

-Nov. 29, 2014 in Louisville
-Nov. 28, 2015 in Lexington
-Nov. 26, 2016 in Louisville
-Nov. 25, 2017 in Lexington
-Nov. 24, 2018 in Louisville
-Nov. 30, 2019 in Lexington

Louisville 31 – Notre Dame 28: Cards Squeeze It Out In South Bend

Photo: USA Today Sports

Photo: USA Today Sports

Bobby Petrino and the Louisville Cardinals picked up their eighth win of the season on Saturday afternoon with a 31-28 win over Notre Dame in the first ever meeting with the Irish.

Louisville had a lead for the majority of the game, but Notre Dame put together a very strong second half to make things interesting. In the end, the Cards were able to do just enough to squeeze past the Irish.

It looked as if this one was headed to overtime, but Notre Dame’s Kyle Brindza missed a 32-yard field goal, which allowed Louisville to kill the clock for the remainder of the game.

“We knew it was going to be a fourth-quarter game,” Bobby Petrino said after the game. “They competed extremely hard. I think our assistant coaches on offense did a great job on the sideline of calming our guys down, keeping our poise.”

Louisville didn’t have their best game offensively when it comes to the passing attack, but with the mixture of strong running backs and Reggie Bonnafon’s ability to scramble out of the pocket, the Cards dominated the ground attack. Louisville finished with 229 rushing yards while Notre Dame had just 99.

“We felt like we could run the ball, and we did it late in the game, which is real important to winning games,” Petrino said.

Louisville has their final regular season game next Saturday when they host in-state rival Kentucky.

Quick Stats
Team Totals LOU ND
First Downs 23 16
Net Yards Rushing 229 99
Net Yards Passing 180 236
Total Offense Yards 409 335
Fumbles: Number-Lost 0 – 0 1 – 0
Penalties: Number-Yards 8 – 57 3 – 36
Punts – Yards 4 – 166 4 – 187
Possession Time 35:31 24:29
Third-Down Conversions 6 of 14 (0.429) 4 of 11 (0.364)
Fourth-Down Conversions 0 of 0 (0.000) 0 of 0 (0.000)
Sacks By: Number-Yards 3-20 4-32
Field Goals 1-2 (0.500) 2-3 (0.667

Louisville vs. Notre Dame: What 2 Watch 4

Photo: Pete Cautilli

Photo: Pete Cautilli

I’m trying this with basketball and I like it a bit better than my usual 3 Predictions, so here goes with football. I’m going to give you 4 ‘things’ to watch during the game – player match-ups, strengths/weaknesses, etc. – so you’ll have a sense of what to watch for as the game plays out. You probably know me as a stat guy, so I assure you I’m still going to be analyzing the numbers for you and the patterns I find in the stat analysis will give us our 4 keys to the game, so to speak. I’ll then give you 2 predictions based on those things we’ll be watching for throughout the game that I’m confident will play a large role in the eventual outcome of the game. Ergo, you have “what 2 watch 4″.

This is a special moment for the University of Louisville football program. Historically, Louisville has played in some big games against big programs, and in my lifetime, I’ve gotten to watch the program grow up in a lot of ways. Back in the days of ‘Old Cardinal’, a trip up to South Bend for a Louisville game seemed more like fantasy than reality. Even in the past decade, it still seemed more likely to happen in a video game than to be part of Louisville’s conference* schedule. But here we are, about to watch the Cards battle Rudy’s alma mater in front of Touchdown Jesus.

Notre Dame is going to come out completely on fire.

“Fired up” might even be an understatement when it comes to describing the collective emotion of the Irish this weekend. They’re coming off a completely inexplicable OT loss to now 4-6 Northwestern… at home. For a program that sniffed the playoffs early in the season, albeit perhaps a little prematurely, that was an agonizing loss and one that will be fresh in their memory. You can expect an incredible level of intensity to begin the game, that may even have a similar feel as the Clemson game. Just like the Clemson game though, have some faith and weather the storm. These Cardinals have been here before, and will know not be knocked off guard. If they endure the early emotion of Notre Dame’s final home game of the year, they’ll be in with a fighting chance.

Notre Dame’s passing offense ranks 15th nationally, but is turnover-prone.

A big portion of Notre Dame’s offensive success is thanks to senior quarterback Everett Golson and his playmaking ability. The Irish rank 2nd in the country with 53 completions of 20 yards or more, and Golson has yet to play a game this season without multiple touchdown passes. The kryptonite for Golson, though, is his decision making with the football. He’s completed 60.7% of his passing attempts this season, but in the 2 games Notre Dame has faced ranked opponents, Golson went a combined 53 for 93 (56.9%) with 5 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. In fact, Golson hasn’t gone a week (excluding byes) without an interception since September 13th against Purdue; that’s 12 INTs in 7 games.

Can the Cards cut it on grass?

This Louisville football team has played just 2 games on grass this season – at Virginia and at Clemson, both games they lost. In each of those games, Louisville’s defense allowed just 23 points, but the offense struggled considerably. While the passing game was poor, the biggest concern was the run game. If you exclude the anomaly of the FIU game, the 2 games on grass were the only games in which Louisville averaged less than 3 yards per carry. Of further concern is the fact they lost 2 fumbles in each of those 2 games on natural grass, without any real impact of weather. The early forecast (as of Friday) for South Bend on gameday was a high temperature in the low 40’s and a very good chance of rain. Ball security is absolutely vital for Louisville this week.

Can Reggie Bonnafon manage the game?

Notre Dame does not have an elite defense. They rank 55th nationally in total defense, 75th against the pass and 51st against the run. They give up around 27 points per game but they’ve allowed an average of almost 42 points in their last 3 home games, so there should be opportunities for Louisville. They do, however, have 15 interceptions which puts them in the top 10 nationally in that category, so Reggie will need to be able to get the football to his weapons without presenting Notre Dame with any opportunities to take it away. Obviously, that’s a given in every game, but with a freshman starter on the road at Notre Dame, this will be the biggest challenge he’s ever faced in his football career, and if he’s able to overcome it, manage the game and lead Louisville to a win, he’ll deserve a serious amount of credit. This is a major moment in the development of our young quarterback and we need him to rise to the occasion.

Prediction 1: Notre Dame will score first, Louisville will score last.

Like I mentioned above, I’m predicting Notre Dame to come out hot. I’m not sure it will be in the same fashion as the Clemson game with a punt return for a TD, but I’m betting a big play or two will get the crowd into it and Notre Dame is likely to strike first. However, after a quarter or so is played and the Cards settle in, the defense is going to choke out most of the Irish’s opportunities and the Cardinals will come back to take control of the closing portion of the game.

Prediction 2: Louisville’s rushing offense will get it right & have a statement performance with 125+ and multiple scores.

Notre Dame’s rushing defense has held opponents to under 100 yards at home just once this season, although that was, indeed, Stanford. Since that heroic performance though, they’ve allowed 190 yards on the ground to North Carolina, 336 yards on the ground to Navy, and 263 yards on the ground to Northwestern, who ranks 107th nationally in rushing. If those numbers are correct (they are), that’s 789 yards (average of 263 per game and 5.26 per carry) and 8 touchdowns allowed on the ground in their last 3 home games. Louisville picked a great time to start running the football well.

It’s hard for me to say this, but I legitimately think Notre Dame’s record reflects what I thought the numbers showed after their early wins, in spite of their high ranking. These two teams are far more evenly matched than the experts would have predicted a few weeks back. The spread is hovering around a field goal and the nasty weather might make things sloppy. It should be a close game, but I still believe Louisville is a better football team.

Score Prediction:
Louisville 31
Notre Dame 21

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