I'm equal parts upset and rational this morning, so let's take a quick trip into both psyches...
I understand that we're young and I really do have complete faith in the fact that Louisville will compete for a Big East title a year from now, but what took place inside PJCS last night simply cannot happen.
When you're wanting fans of a basketball school to show up early and stay late for games, you can't become the first Big East program to lose to a Sun Belt team. When the other side has one (ONE) potential game-changer, you can't let that guy almost single-handedly beat you. When your offensive line has been manhandled for the better part of four quarters, you can't call the same simple draw play twice in a row when the game is on the line and you only need to gain a yard.
The most disappointing aspect of Friday night was that the Louisville coaches and players knew exactly what to expect. They knew FIU was good enough to beat them, they knew T.Y. Hilton was going to be the best player on the field, they knew they needed to control the game with the run, and they still failed in all three areas.
Let's be real. Fair or not, if the Cards drop their fifth straight to Kentucky next weekend, it's going to become basketball season in the Derby City almost a month before the team is even able to practice.
On the flip side of the coin, let's not act like this is a Louisville/Syracuse '07 situation where we should have won by 45 but came out flat and unprepared. Right now, Florida International is a better football team than U of L. They have more experience, and - blame whoever you want for this - they have more talented players.
Everything was set up perfectly for the Golden Panthers to spring the upset last night, and it would have been a commendable accomplishment if our guys could have prevented it. Is it disappointing that they couldn't? Of course, but it's not like they got beat because they were just going through the motions out there. Louisville lost last night for two reasons: 1) Three big plays that should have never happened. 2) They don't yet have the star power on offense to make up for those three mistakes.
This was a tough blow, there's no doubt about it, but the season is not lost. FIU is a good football team, and I think what they do over the next three months will make this loss much easier to stomach.
If Louisville beats Kentucky for the first time since 2006 (Jesus), Friday night becomes a distant memory and the potential for a successful season is still very much in tact. If they don't, U of L fans start talking about Jared Swopshire's recovery, and I think the coaching staff starts throwing more and more freshmen into the fire in order to prepare for the next couple of years.
The stakes are always high when Louisville plays Kentucky, but for this year's Cardinal upperclassmen, next Saturday is about as big as it gets.
As for us, here's my three-step plan on how to cope with what took place last night. 1) Watch some college football with friends today and don't shy away from talking about the game. Whether you're angry, upset or optimistic, let it out. 2) Watch a little pro football tomorrow and relax. Don't think about the game. Let the thoughts and the memory fall away like an aging leaf in mid-October. 3) Wake up Monday morning focused and excited about the task at hand.
It's Kentucky week.