1. Heading into this season, I would have made approximately 300 other bold predictions before "multiple shutouts" even crossed my mind.
The amount of young guys who have stepped up out of nowhere to head this thing up has been the biggest pleasant surprise of a, to this point, very pleasantly surprising season. Hakeem Smith? Daniel Brown? Nobody saw this coming. If our specialty players on the other side of the ball are good enough, Charlie Strong (who is, we now know, your religious deity of choice) could be heading up a serious contender in 2012.
2. Regardless of how his senior year played out, Bilal Powell was going to leave here as one of my ten favorite football Cardinals of all-time. I'm gonna go ahead and say that he has now solidified top five status. The skill, the effort, the team-first attitude; I just absolutely love the kid.
Powell is going to end up being to the football program what Reece Gaines was to the basketball program when Rick Pitino. He's a special talent who is making this "rebuilding" phase far, far more enjoyable than it probably should be.
On Saturday, Powell became Louisville's 13th 1,000-yard rusher, and the reaction of his teammates when hit the mark tells you all you need to know about admired he is. Amazingly, he needs just 426 yards (or around 85 ypg) to set the U of L single-season rushing record. That was number 299 on the preseason bold predictions list.
I would do some very, very ridiculous things for Bilal to have another year of eligibility.
3. Not to rain on the parade of thought two, but it seems to me that Powell has been just a touch gimpy ever since the run against Cincinnati where he was flipped near midfield. He still moves well enough when the ball's in his hand, so I guess there's no cause for concern until that changes.
4. The death of Mel Ignatow has cleared the way for "J-Bone" to lay claim to the title of "Most Hated Man in Louisville."
5. Doug Beaumont simply rules.
Also, the flag on his first return was absolute crap. The official didn't even reach for his flag until it was apparent that Doug was gone, and replays show nothing that appeared anywhere close to holding. Definitely makes you wonder.
Note to Connecticut's defensive coordinator: if you're going to consistently give us 4-7 yards on the Beaumont bubble screen, we're going to keep taking it.
I really want to hear "Teach Me How to Dougie" at least one more time before Doug's gone forever.
6. I feel like Byron Stingily and I need to share Mr. Belding/Zack Morris-esque graduation day hug. We've both put each other through a lot, but there's a love(?) and respect(?) there that will be absent in a few months.
7. Record with gray shirt: 4-0. Record without gray shirt: 0-3.
I've never been more in control.
8. Maybe the coolest moment of the season was when the entire sideline was going berserk while "Sandstorm" was playing and we were preparing to kickoff. A year ago, 75% of those guys would have either been sitting on the benches or talking to people in the crowd. This is just so much more fun.
9. I give more of a shit about Glee (I don't give a shit about Glee) than Connecticut did about winning the football game on Saturday. From a pure effort standpoint, that was the most pathetic performance I've seen a Big East opponent give since we joined the league. The final score could have easily been 40-0, and probably should have been 40-0.
As freshman Brandon Dunn - who started in place of an injured Greg Scruggs - put it: "I guess our OL is way better than (UConn's). I felt a lot better going against them than ours in practice."
10. I'm not sure a series has ever been so defined by punt returns.
11. This team is now two wins away from going to a bowl game. Win at Pitt on Saturday and talk about winning the Big East and going to a BCS bowl will be - at least temporarily - justified.
These are fun times.
Charlie Strong is your religious deity of choice.