After enduring one of the more emotionally draining weeks in recent Louisville fan history, today's gritty penalty-ridden win over Syracuse feels pretty darn good. This hasn't been a year where style points matter, anyway. Losing to FIU and Marshall at home taught us to appreciate grinding out low scoring, defensive-minded affairs and relish wins for what they aren't: Losses. So much so that we should no longer call 27 points low scoring. It's enough to win any game on the schedule with this defense.
Speaking of which, the difference in this game was Louisville's defense. Again. Today's effort marks the third time in 8 games this season where Louisville held their opponent to 10 points or less. Coming into the game as the 17th ranked team in the country in points allowed (17.1 per game), it's easy to take the Cards' defensive consistency for granted. Especially when you consider how much turnover this team has experienced in the secondary since last season.
For the second game in a row, the offense improved enough to provide the kind of optimism and momentum that has fans dreaming of bowl eligibility. The running game looked competent in the first quarter, then disappeared in the second and third before Victor Anderson blew the game open in the fourth with his 61 yard touchdown run, which put the Cards ahead 24-3. Vic finished the game with 93 yards on 11 carries and added three receptions for 20 yards.
The video clip of Anderson's locker room speech about playing for injured cornerback Anthony Conner, which was replayed two or three times during the televised/streamed broadcast, spoke volumes about the mental toughness of this team. In what was a week to forget, this was a moment to remember.
One more reason for optimism: This afternoon's result marks the first back-to-back Big East wins for Louisville since 2006. Bring on the Mountaineers.