If there were any lingering doubts as to whether the University of Louisville could acclimate to a legitimate football conference and premier road games, this past weekend should announce to everyone that the Cardinals are very much at home competing each week on the national stage. The new and the old have carried the Cardinals to a solid 8-3 record, and Louisville finally caught the break that had been eluding them since September. (I screamed wide left constantly until the kick, he must have heard me and over compensated, you can thank me at the bowl game.)
For those of you who didn't travel to South Bend, it was an experience to behold. The majority of Cardinal fans spent a lot of time dodging orange cones and pot holes on their northward journey, and even a goose trying to fly through my windshield couldn't stop us from joining the red and black invasion. Countless Notre Dame supporters remarked on Louisville's presence, and many of them believed it was the largest and loudest visiting contingent they had ever witnessed. Cardinal Pride was on full display throughout campus and inside of the stadium, and the national audience was treated to an excellent football game. Notre Dame and Louisville should play every year; it is a natural rivalry, the fan bases are phenomenal, and the programs chase many of the same recruits.
The game itself was a roller coaster of emotion with each team capturing momentum on several different occasions. The Cardinals had their chances to run away with it, but a little luck of the Irish and help from the officiating kept Notre Dame in the contest. Reggie Bonnafon is only beginning his ascension to the next great Cardinal quarterback, and he solidified himself as the future of this program. Reggie, in only his second year of playing quarterback, went into Notre Dame as a true freshman, pulled off a comeback victory, accounted for three touchdowns, and his one turnover was basically a punt. His passing and defensive reads are tremendously improved, and the deep balls he connected on were things of beauty. If you aren't excited about the next three years with Reggie under center then I recommend you cheer for a different team.
The Cardinal running game continues to be unstoppable when needed most. The gentlemen announcing the game were greatly impressed with the ground attack, and Louisville is in good hands for years to come with Radcliffe and Scott abusing defensive fronts. When Radcliffe retires from his playing career years from now, the kid should consider coaching and or becoming a personal trainer. His stamina and enthusiasm are inspiring. Radcliffe appears to have a super power that allows him to absorb the strength of anyone trying to tackle him and use that strength to simply abuse every defender on the field. The combination of his speed and strength will continue to take Louisville to new historical heights. Dyer was solid again, and his massive run on the first possession of the game changed the entire landscape. It was great seeing Dominique contribute again, not only offensively, but with seven tackles on special teams. Welcome back Mr. Brown, and thank you for the leadership.
The defense wasn't perfect but they made the plays under pressure with the game on the line. The one major miscue came from Terrell Floyd when Golson threw a prayer up for grabs on third and long, and instead of intercepting it or batting the ball down, Floyd chose to swing his arms up and the Irish were awarded a fluke six points. At that juncture, the confidence of the Cardinal fans in attendance hit the floor. However, Louisville was owed something positive after a season of bad breaks and Notre Dame missed wide right.
The only complaint from Saturday involves the officiating. Notre Dame avoided several offensive and defensive holding penalties. Also, on Notre Dame's final possession, the review booth blatantly cheated by not stopping play and overturning the completed pass on 3rd and 10. The review booth had no problems reviewing several other plays and getting calls correct, but for some odd reason the Irish were allowed to continue marching down the field.
Louisville has finished the season strong and is in position to finish the year in a premier bowl game against an upper echelon opponent. One game remains and the Cardinals will be ready to take care of business against their rivals from the east. Kentucky's run defense is abysmal, look for Louisville to set records in rushing attempts and yardage this Saturday. If Kentucky sells out to stop the run, UK will have no answer for Parker.
9-3 would cap a successful and impressive season. Louisville has had more hurdles than most to overcome in 2014, and is two plays from being 10-1. Louisville will end up being the best team on the field in all but one of its games, and when considering the coaching change and injuries, this first ACC season will be a major success if and when the Cardinals capture victory Saturday. The old and the new carried the Cardinals to a historical victory Saturday inside of the legendary Notre Dame Stadium, and the future of Louisville Football has never been brighter. Thank you to the senior class for an unbelievable four years of success and some of the greatest players to ever don a Cardinal uniform. Finish in style Louisville, see you in South Beach.
All Hail UofL !!