The decade is rapidly drawing to a close, so we need to speed things up and make sure we name a best Louisville game of the decade before the clock hits midnight on Dec. 31. Because if we don't, you know, people are going to die.
Let's hit it.
3. LOUISVILLE NOTCHES FIRST BCS BOWL VICTORY OVER WAKE FOREST IN PETRINO'S LAST GAME
I don't think it is hyperbole to say that this was the biggest victory in UofL football history (with all due respect to the WVU/Black Out game) but it was far from the most exciting. Whether it was Fox's terrible coverage, the lack of crowd energy translating to TV, the limited possessions (remember, this was the only season of the new clock rules that allowed teams like Wake to waste a bunch of time), Wake Forest's stingy defense, or the lack of signature moments like a Mario stiff-arm, this game just sorta happened.
But in looking back, there were actually some really great plays, especially on the pivotal drive. A scoreless third quarter by the Cards, plus 10 unanswered points by Wake put us down 13-10 early in the 4th Quarter. An 8-play, 81-yard drive, highlighted by a swing pass that Kolby Smith willed into a 25 yard gain (I seem to remember making some guys miss in the backfield) led to an Anthony Allen 1-yard TD run.
The defense held Wake to a 3-and-out and then Jimmy Riley made the play of his career to complete a first down on third and long - remember, he caught the ball a few yards short of the marker with guys on him but somehow was able to get a huge first down. Bolen added the nail for a 24-13 lead, and the Cards won the Orange Bowl!
The big questions afterward were who would be back: Brohm? Mario? Malik Jackson? Harry? Less than a week later....I can't even type it.
At any rate, this is a #3 seed because a BCS bowl win is always a big deal, even if it is not the championship game. And because I'm sure I wasn't the only cards fan who said to himself, I don't want to spend the money to go down to the Orange Bowl, I'll wait until the Sugar Bowl next year. And even if Wake is not an ACC power, that was a good team with a smart coach and a stingy defense, and we still beat the spread and were not really challenged in the 4th quarter.
11. LOUISVILLE STOMPS PERENNIAL POWERHOUSE MIAMI AT PJCS (9/16/06)
The game wasn't competitive, but this was the moment Louisville football really captured the attention of the American public.
After the Cards had suffered a crushing three-point loss in Miami two years prior, this statement game was hyped all summer by Louisville fans and local media. The intensity was ratcheted up a notch when a war of words broke out between U of L linebacker Nate Harris (a UM transfer) and Hurricane quarterback Kyle Wright in the days leading up to the contest, and then set ablaze when players from The U elected to stomp on the Cardinal bird during pregame warm-ups.
After falling behind 7-0, Louisville ripped off 31 straight points to score one of the biggest victories in program history and establish themselves as a legitimate contender for the national championship.
"Well it was pretty obvious today we were embarrassed," Miami coach Larry Coker said after the game. "Our players are embarrassed. Our coaches are embarrassed. We thoroughly got whipped."
Everyone knows the details: Harris' fumble recovery, Brohm's injury, Cantwell's first pass, George Stripling's ridiculous speed and, of course, the Mario stiff-arm.
What an ass-kicking and what a day to be a Louisville football fan.
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