Saturday, October the 5th, will go down in Louisville history as the day that almost was. For you casual football fans, let me explain. Tennessee should have beaten Georgia, Northwestern almost beat Ohio St., and Washington had Stanford on the ropes. In other words, three teams standing in front of our championship dream were seconds away from "Harry Houdini-ing" themselves out of the BCS race.
Instead of joyful hymn singing Sunday morning, Cardinal fans were greeted with another drop in the polls and a sour taste in their mouths from an uninspired second half against Temple. I would also rather not mention the nightmares associated with DeVante Parker's shoulder injury.
You should rest easy though, fickle and feeble fans of the red and black, this is college football, and much like middle school girlfriends, everything changes every single week. The next two weeks, starting against Rutgers Thursday night, put UofL in a prime position to showcase their talent, their fans, their school and their championship campaign. Two weeknight games, two chances to capture a national television audience, two opportunities to obliterate the best our schedule has to offer.
Cardinal fans knew when the schedule was released that these last three weeks were going to be the worst and most brutal to overcome and survive with a legitimate shot at Pasadena intact. You can exhale, Louisville, we did it. We are 5-0, we are ranked 8th, Teddy is still the talk of the town, injuries have been kept to a minimum and the whole country is starting to pull against us. Charlie has 'em right where he wants 'em.
Coach Strong spent the entire offseason and every week of this season sticking to one message, preaching one sermon: This year is not about anyone but us. It isn't about the schedule, it's not about a Heisman campaign, and it certainly isn't a bridge to basketball season (cough cough, Kentucky). Charlie fully believes he has the best team in the country, his players believe it, I believe it, and if they focus on being the best in practice, in the classroom, and at game time, there is no stopping this Cardinal train.
The first stop of moving week(s) is Rutgers.
No offense to the sunshine and high noon, but this city and this team deserve to play under the lights. Louisville has no choice but to take full advantage of the Thursday night stage and leave no doubt in anyone's mind that Teddy Bridgewater is better than everyone else, Charlie Strong is a top five coach, and this team deserves a seat at the big boy table. With all due respect to our collective hatred for Rutgers, the only thing that matters this Thursday night is our UofL Cards. We are better at every position. Our coaches and players know that, and it's time for them to play like it. Leave no doubt.
Second stop is Central Florida. With eight days off and a deserved climb in the polls, Louisville must seize next Friday the same way they will seize tomorrow night. It is our turn to have the spotlight, our turn to earn the praise and our turn to show everyone why the year of the Cardinal is only just beginning.
Six weeks of college football have come and gone. The Cardinals stand 5-0 and have endured their three week purgatory. The next two weeks provide the University of Louisville a primetime opportunity to prove everyone wrong, and prove to every fan they were right. Two weeks, eight quarters, 120 minutes. Every fan, every coach, every player, give it everything you've got. The Pasadena dream is alive, and these next two games will showcase just how special this Cardinal team really is.
All Hail UofL!