With a potentially historic second half of Cardinal football beginning in just four days, let's first take a look back at all the fun we had getting to this point. And let's do so in the form of a fake awards show.
Hosted by Anastasia Saunders
Offensive MVP: Teddy Bridgewater
There's certainly a case to be made for Senorise Perry here, but ultimately Bridgewater is the guy who makes this offense go, and he has been sensational throughout the first half of the season. Despite having his stats hurt by being forced to play two games in torrential downpours, Bridgewater has still thrown for 1,438 yards and nine touchdowns against only three interceptions. He has completed 72% of his passes and ranks 13th in the nation in passing efficiency.
While I don't think Teddy is a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender anymore (if he ever was), I do think that he has an outside shot to receive an invite to New York if he continues to produce and Louisville finishes the regular season undefeated. Obviously, that would be a historic achievement for both him and the U of L program. Personal achievements aside, Bridgewater appears poised to lead the Cards to multiple places they haven't been in a long time.
Defensive MVP: Calvin Pryor
The spread offense that Louisville has faced in five of its six games hasn't afforded the Cardinal defensive line much of a chance to shine, and has put added pressure on U of L's back seven. The player who has most taken advantage of this situation has been Pryor, who leads Vance Bedford's defense in tackles with 46 (Adrian Bushell and Hakeem Smith are tied for second with 32). The sophomore is also one of just two Cardinals to intercept a pass, and currently leads the nation in forced fumbles with four.
Most Valuable Freshman: John Wallace
Charles Gaines appeared poised to claim this honor early and Keith Brown has been a star on defense the past two weeks, but Wallace has been consistent at a position that was one of U of L's biggest question marks heading into the season. Though he's only had two touchbacks on 27 kickoffs, Wallace has buried all five of his field goal attempts, including a pair from 42 and 45 yards out. He probably won't earn this award at the end of the season, but for now...congrats, John.
Most Valuable Special Teams Player: Jarel McGriff-Culver
Both Wallace and punter Ryan Johnson have had their moments, but McGriff-Culver is a guy who seems to always show up on special teams plays, most notably when he snuffed out UK's fake punt attempt in the season-opener.
Best Image: Senorise Perry against Kentucky
Best Game (Overall): Louisville 39, North Carolina 34
It was a second half to forget for everyone associated with Louisville, but you can't say it wasn't entertaining for the national television audience that was tuning in. An endzone pass breakup on 4th down with the game on the line is about as exciting as it gets.
Best Game (For Louisville): Louisville 32, Kentucky 14
Last Saturday's win over Pitt could have also gotten the call here, but the 35 points surrendered made it a little difficult to justify as a complete performance. We all know Kentucky is awful, but keep in mind that this was before they were ravaged by injuries and playing with the knowledge that the firing of their head coach is an inevitability. It was a rivalry game, and the Cards took the best shot of a Wildcat team that, when completely healthy, has an above average offense. The result was still a beatdown and a fantastic start to the 2012 season.
Play of the Half Season: Andrew Johnson's pass breakup against North Carolina
There have been some fairly scintillating offensive plays, but The President's breakup of Bryn Renner's fourth down pass into the endzone is the biggest reason the Cards are heading into the second half of the season still unbeaten. In addition to saving U of L from an embarrassing collapse on national television, the play also preserved a win over the only one of Louisville's non-conference opponents that has a winning record and a possibility of achieving something of note this year.
Best Highlight Video: Crum's Revenge on Kentucky
Keep doing your thing, CR.
Best Discovered Nickname: Pooda (Andrell Smith)
The only true contender here.
At this point if you're not saying "POODA" with extreme emphasis on the "ooooo" every time Andrell makes a catch, then I don't think you're really a Louisville fan. You also probably support (insert name of presidential candidate you dislike...or dislike the most) and eat banan runts, yellow starburst and black licorice (no way you can prefer all three).
Network Which Most Often Wrongly Identified Charlie Strong: CBS Sports Network (Southern Miss)
Say what you will about the ESPN family of networks, this is a mistake they've never made multiple times in a single broadcast. The same same can't be said for Fox Sports Net, or (now) CBS Sports Network, which identified just about every African American on Louisville's sideline as Charlie Strong at some point during the first half on Sept. 29.
Network Which Most Often Wrongly Identified U of L's Logo: CBS Sports Network (Southern Miss)
Some nights you're just in the zone.
That would be the Lehigh Mountain Hawks.
Worst Announcer Comment: "This would be a nice night for Ducks, but we have two birds tonight!" --James Bates (CBS Sports Network - Southern Miss)
I'm convinced that one day this game will be used as a teaching mechanism in broadcasting classes all over the United States.
Best Coach: Charlie Strong
Sometimes you have to create easily predictable categories or rig some of the awards to make sure that the biggest stars show up to these things.
Most Unfortunate Delayed Viewing Game Thread Comment: Carolina Cardinal (Southern Miss)
This was right after Jeremy Wright's 4th quarter fumble, and Carolina Cardinal had apparently just seen Wright's long run on the play immediately before. I laugh every single time I look at this.
Most Valuable Game Thread Talisman: Baby Gorgui
It hasn't always been pretty, but BG is 4-0 and showed some serious signs of growth last weekend against Pitt. He also played no part in the near late-game disasters against both UNC and Southern Miss. Cardinal Pig got the call for both of those heart-stoppers, but did manage to oink out a pair of victories I'm never going to hold hands with a girl.
Best Sideline Correspondent: Anastasia Saunders (ESPN3 - Florida International)
Let the record show that I voted for her in each and every one of the previous categories as well.
Best Anastasia Quote: "Well after that last series, the crowd is here, they are pumped, they are getting behind this team. The team is getting excited. And we'll see if that momentum stays on their team the rest of this half here, in the first half."
This was, without question, the most hotly contested category of the lot.
Best Quote From An Opposing Player: "UK beats Louisville 35-0. Sept. 2 that will be the score. We will shock the state of Kentucky." --UK running back Justin Taylor
It didn't happen.
Most Valuable Play To Make A Final Score Look Better Than It Should Have: Jordan Paschal's strip and return against Missouri State
It changed a potential 28-14 final score into a much more aesthetically pleasing 35-7 Cardinal victory. The runner-up award would have to go to Corvin Lamb's 1-yard touchdown run on the next play.
Least Valuable Opposing Fan: Kentucky high-five faller
Always end on a high note.