At halftime, I called my pal Badger Billy, a Wisconsin alum who loves the Cards as much as his guys from cheese country, though he now resides in the heart of SEC Country.
I started to let loose with my rant about Louisville's horrid first half performance, " Given the circumstances . . . . " when he cut me off, crowing, "How 'bout my Badgers?" Wisconsin, sitting right behind the Cards in the rankings had battered the hapless Illini, 48-3.
That was part of what I was talking about.
Given the circumstances, meaning the Cards aspiring to the Final Four and the teams right ahead of Louisville -- #5 Ohio State -- and right behind -- #7 Wisconsin -- having rolled big, and the reality of #2 Clemson's losing to Pitt at home, and that both #4 Washington and #3 Michigan at the moment were on the ropes . . . given those circumstances as perspective, Louisville's first half offensive performance was the worst in U of L football history.
Which is what I said. I was sad. I was pissed.
There is no other way to cut it. Louisville's O stunk it up, saved only by the D, which bent -- bent a lot thanks to some woeful tackling -- but didn't break, giving up only four FGs, when the damage could have been fatal.
The Cards dropped passes. when that is way off target Lamar Jackson actually got them close to his receivers. The Cards lost the ball, starting on the first play of the game, losing three fumbles.
The O Line's ineptitude had LJ scrambling most every play.
The Demon Deacons ran 15 more plays from scrimmage than the Cardinals, 40-25, and possessed the ball 21:19 to the Cardinals' 8:41.
There were stupid penalties, bobbled kickoffs, and a dumbfounding lack of focus.
At that juncture, down 12-3, it appeared that Louisville's already slim hopes for the Final Four had been dashed, and Lamar Jackson's status as odds on Heisman favorite was in serious jeopardy. (He was 4/9 in the air for 46 meager yards, and had 12 rushes for 65 yards, with of course no TDs.)
* * * * *
So, as I, energized by ensuing events, sit here after midnight typing away, I can advise just how much events since that halftime despair have brightened the outlook for this year's Cardinal team.
Brandon Radcliff morphed into Leonard Fournette, racing for a 141 yards and Three Touchdowns on only 11 carries.
Lamar Jackson morphed into Lamar Jackson, rushing for 153 yards on 22 carries, despite a bunch of sacks and TFLs. He ended up 14/26 with 145 yards passing, including a TD lob to Cole Hikutini.
The Cards D ended up with 7 sacks, 13 tackles for loss, 6 QB hurries and 2 break ups. One of which break ups was Jaire Alexander's, when for some unfathomable reason Wake Forest, still ahead 12-3, went for it on 4th & 9 at Louisville's 37 yard line.
That stop was obviously the turning point of the game.
Two plays later, Radcliff busted through the middle for 55 yards and U of L's first touchdown.
The real 2016 Louisville Cardinals showed up in full in the 4th Quarter, scoring 34 more points, and holding the Demon Deacons at bay, for the final 44-12 margin.
The highlights included a huge LJ to Reggie Bonnafon completion on 4th & 4. A few more Radcliff runaways. Devonté Fields defense. Ronald Walker's pick six. That smile-inducing last scoring drive of four simple running plays covering 52 yards in :52, all starting with Jackson under center, ending with Malik Williams TD.
* * * * *
The whipped cream and cherry were still to come.
UDub ended up losing at home to Southern California. Former Heisman Hopeful, Washington QB Jake Browning, sealed the loss by throwing a pick, then going down for a safety on the Huskies last two possesions.
Then Coach Khaki's formerly undefeated Wolverines, and their Heisman wannabe Jabrill Peppers, fell to Iowa, just a week after the Hawkeyes were dismantled by Penn State.
I mean, really, you can't make this stuff up.
* * * * *
Sooooooooooooooooooo, on a night when U of L's disgusting first half performance could have ripped the heart out of an incredible season, Louisville righted the ship and did what it needed to do to stay in the chase. It broke the Demon Deacons and stormed away to a darned near style points W.
While Clemson on a last second FG and Michigan on a last second FG and Washington with a pick and a safety couldn't close the deal.
Tuesday evening could really be fun. (Actually I know it's going to be fun. I'll be at the Palace for Tedeschi Trucks Band.)
Next: Houston on Thursday, as the nightcap of day/night hoops/pigskin double bill.
-- Seedy K