Mama said there’d be days like this/ There’d be days like this, Mama said. – The Shirelles
Through the shards, it is difficult to see the short- or long-term ramifications of last night’s disheartening loss to Central Florida. Planet Chinstrap’s pundits have been calling U of L a charlatan for weeks. Now they have the weight of the evidence to bolster their blogs.
For the moment, Louisville’s opportunity to go BCS bowling an unprecedented second year in a row, to establish more firmly a spot in college football’s upper echelon, are but pipe dreams. In the long run, Louisville still has yet to display the maturity as a program to handle the pressure required for prime time pigskin.
After Blake Bortles hit a depressingly wide open Jeff Godfrey in the endzone for the winning score with 23 ticks left on the clock, I uttered to nobody in particular, “Goodbye BCS, hello Beef O’Bradys.” I was corrected by Russell Athletic Bowl rep, a smiling blazer named Jose Neme, who was sitting a couple seats away. “No. We got you.”
Instead of Miami, New Orleans or perhaps possibly Pasadena, there’s more than likely a 12/28 6:45 kickoff in Orlando, home of last night’s victors. (For scheduling and travel purposes, be advised the Cardinal hoopsters tipoff against that blue-clad team from down the road at 4:00 that afternoon.)
Coulda, woulda, shoulda is now oh so firmly ain’t gonna.
* * * * *
With 7:52 left in the 3d Q, James Quick scooped up Caleb Houston’s fumble like a gypsy pickpocket working Le Ramblais in Barcelona. Faster than his name, the superfrosh from Trinity was in for a special teams score, that became a 28-7 lead after the extra point.
At which point, Louisville’s still poignant immaturity took hold. But, they were not playing Florida International. That hapless squad’s neighbor to the north is a real football team, already tested. The Knights proved their mettle. It took them but 7:22 of game clock to tie the score at 28.
It was knotted at the quarter’s end, thirty seconds later.
28-28 on the scoreboard.
15-15 on the first down line of the box score.
Louisville had 324 total yards. Central Florida had 324 total yards.
Yet, it was the Knights dancing and jumping to the hip hop during the play stoppage. A headline for the moment should have read, “UCF leads Louisville, 28-28.”
The Cards garnered only one 1st down on its subsequent drive, going 5 and out.
Five minutes of clock later, U of L was behind for the first time all season.
U of L’s last scoring drive, lucky because it was a pass interference call on a Teddy B to Parker incompletion that kept it alive, proved a false positive.
On the Knight’s hot knife through butter winning drive, Louisville’s non-D was leakier than a plumbing system with cracked clay pipes.
It was, frankly, stunning how easily and quickly the Cards gave ground.
There were big plays. Good ones. Bad ones. Significant stats. But, ya know, none of them really matter, do they?
* * * * *
Are there any positive takeaways from the game?
Legit question. Thanks for asking.
To be honest, it’s hard to consider them, whatever they might be.
This was a loss fostered by Louisville’s hubris. The Cards proved themselves neither tested nor time tough. Blowing a three TD advantage, held midway through the 3d quarter, was bad enough. Retaking the lead, then giving it up so easily again to lose late was simply . . . well . . . uh . . . what?
All of the above?
* * * * *
The offense took care of business.
Teddy B, as usual.
The AFROS were on their game.
Dominique Brown played his best game ever.
As for the defense, well, to follow an old and wise adage, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
* * * * *
I was struck by how the big crowd stayed to the very end, hoping that a :23 miracle might happen.
We’ll now see how much resilience the Cards possess? How much pride?
Houston’s still undefeated. South Florida is coming on. Cincy’s a rival game.
But today . . . today really hurts.
– Seedy K