The match-ups only get tougher from here on out, Best Louisville Games. You better bring it.
3. LOUISVILLE NOTCHES FIRST BCS BOWL VICTORY OVER WAKE FOREST IN PETRINO'S LAST GAME
I don't think it is hyperbole to say that this was the biggest victory in UofL football history (with all due respect to the WVU/Black Out game) that was also the least exciting. Whether it was Fox's terrible coverage, the lack of crowd energy translating to TV, the limited possessions (remember, this was the only season of the new clock rules that allowed teams like Wake to waste a bunch of time), Wake Forest's stingy defense, or the lack of signature moments like a Mario stiff-arm, this game just sorta happened.
But in looking back, there were actually some really great plays, especially on the pivotal drive. A scoreless third quarter by the Cards, plus 10 unanswered points by Wake put us down 13-10 early in the 4th Quarter. An 8-play, 81-yard drive, highlighted by a swing pass that Kolby Smith willed into a 25 yard gain (I seem to remember making some guys miss in the backfield) led to an Anthony Allen 1-yard TD run.
The defense held Wake to a 3-and-out and then Jimmy Riley made the play of his career to complete a first down on third and long - remember, he caught the ball a few yards short of the marker with guys on him but somehow was able to get a huge first down. Bolen added the nail for a 24-13 lead, and the Cards won the Orange Bowl!
The big questions afterward were who would be back: Brohm? Mario? Malik Jackson? Harry? Less than a week later....I can't even type it.
At any rate, this is a #3 seed because a BCS bowl win is always a big deal, even if it is not the championship game. And because I'm sure I wasn't the only cards fan who said to himself, I don't want to spend the money to go down to the Orange Bowl, I'll wait until the Sugar Bowl next year. And even if Wake is not an ACC power, that was a good team with a smart coach and a stingy defense, and we still beat the spread and were not really challenged in the 4th quarter.
A formidable opponent for any game. Who will 2007 Orange Bowl match up against? The role of "scrappy mid-major champion starting 4 seniors and a junior" to the Orange Bowl's Kansas is...
14. LOUISVILLE DEFEATS KENTUCKY 81-63 IN THE 'MARVIN STONE GAME', DECEMBER 28, 2002
Four hours on youtube (okay maybe just 10 minutes) did not produce any video of this game, but this was a classic. Marvin Stone had been released from UK the year before and wound up at Louisville, taking the 2002-2003 team to another level. Gaines, freshmen Garcia and Dean, a Larry O'Bannon who was a year away from making a jump, Otis and Myles, Erik Brown - all have a special place in Cards fans hearts, and Stone getting a second chance, especially against his former team, a team that gave up on him, made the already-bitter rivalry that more interesting.
The Cards got down by double digits in the first half before storming back for a 2nd half beatdown that the loud, intense crowd really helped push to another level during the decisive run.
Stone was the leading scorer, notching 16 points and 7 boards and Myles had a double-double (11 points, 14 rebounds).
Enjoy this video of 2002-2003 highlights:
This was also Pitino's second game against UK, and the players had his back.
Pitino avenged a 20-point loss to the Wildcats in his much-ballyhooed return to Rupp Arena last December. He was making his first appearance in his former home arena, and fans screamed insults at him from the start in Kentucky's 82-62 victory.The rude reception stuck with the Cardinals. "We really wanted to get this win for Coach, the way they treated him last year,'' Myles said.
Overall, it was a great afternoon and a memorable win for Marvin Stone and Coach Pitino and a worthy inclusion in the top 16 UofL games of the decade.
What say you?