So, I finally had a little extra time earlier tonight to pop in NCAA '12 and pick up on my dynasty. And, ironically enough, the next game up was against Kentucky.
The game has both teams sized up nearly equal, as Louisville is rated B- overall, and Kentucky B overall. I won the toss and chose to defer. I stopped Kentucky cold on their first drive. Sacked Newton nearly right out of his cleats on 3rd down.
I moved the ball well on my first drive with the Cards. Had success running the ball and a couple pitches put me just outside the red zone. Things were looking good. Then............yep, you guessed it. The O-Line began to fail. Must've tired out quickly. Stein got sacked before he could get his feet set and ate turf. Kentucky's D stepped up further on 3rd down and stopped us dead in our tracks. Actually missed the FG from only 36 yards. Nipped it just a little too far right. Philpott must've been feeling the jitters of the hostile environment.
UofL's D remained strong on Kentucky's next drive and stopped them short of mid-field. Another punt.
End 1st qtr
Score 0 - 0
2nd qtr was more of the same. Back and fourth with neither side really gaining an edge. Kentucky managed to secure a FG near the end of the half and finally tickle the board a little. I could feel some frustration on the part of the Cards who once again had success moving the ball, but could not stay consistent and finish the drive.
End 2nd qtr
Score UL 0 UK 3
After another stalemate series, I finally got Louisville on the board toward the end of the 3rd qtr with a 48 yard FG by Philpott. Finally tied the game.
End 3rd qtr
Score UL 3 UK 3
Both teams turned up the heat in the 4th. Stein and Newton both got smashed probably 4 or 5 times each, as neither team's O-Line could seem to handle the D's constant pressure. Despite the setbacks, I scored another Philpott FG and took the lead for the first time, 6 - 3. I nearly killed Newton on UK's next drive. Three huge sacks in a row nuked their drive and pinned them deep which set me up with great field position after the punt. A 35-yard missile from Stein to Josh Bellamy set up a Jeremy Wright rushing TOUCHDOWN! Cards lead 13 - 3. Finally some breathing room (or so I thought). With the clock working against Kentucky, those dastardly cats put together their best drive of the game. Capped it off with a quick passing TD which brought them within 3 with two minutes left. A failed onside kick gave me and Louisville the ball back with one objective -- run the clock. With Victor Anderson out before the game began, and Jeremy Wright now out with an abdominal strain, Senorise Perry came in and took advantage of Kentucky's gassed defense. I kept the ball on the ground the rest of the way, forcing UK to burn all their TO's. With the clock winding down and one play remaining I thought about taking a shot at the end zone to really try to drive the dagger in when I remembered the Petrino days haven't returned just yet. With my luck we'd turn it over and they'd run one all the way back and steal it. Yea, screw that. QB kneel closes the game and the UK streak is finally broken.
Final score - UL 13 UK 10
Of course, it's only a video game. But, lots of things happened in this that were highly indicative of both teams' situations right now. Kentucky had trouble moving the ball at all and Louisville couldn't keep Stein from running for his life every other snap. The low, low score is truly a possible preview of what we could really see this weekend.
Either way, very competitive game and one that was finally decided by the time running out. Could've easily went the other way had there been another series or two. But, if this is any indicator of what might really happen when the two teams take the field on Saturday, I'll take it!