Won if by land.
Which is an admittedly lame skewing of iconic American poetry. Yet it somehow fits for U of L’s 34-10 W over BCS rookie James Madison.
Its fourth victory in a row makes Louisville bowl eligible.
Pass the Dolly Madison Creme Filled Zingers®.
Against the nation’s statistically best rushing defense, U of L gained but 46 yards by land before intermission. After which the game was knotted 10-10 and any outcome seemed plausible.
After the break, U of L’s defense stepped up hugely for the third game in a row.
The Cards ground game took over. 117 by land in the 3d. 81 more in the 4th.
Tiyon Evans 71 yard first down rumble on the U of L’s second possession after the break was the Game Changer. OL’s zone blocking to the left side was perfect.
Evans found the crease, then galloped through every Middlesex village and farm to paydirt. (Forgive your wacked uncaffeinated scribe, whose mind wanders aimlessly yet again on an early Sunday morning after.)
What happened after the break?
Let’s hear it right from no nonsense Dukes’ coach Curt Cignetti:
“Okay look. This is a pretty simple synopsis. With two minutes to go in the half we’re up three points, and the last 32 minutes we were physically dominated.
“They pushed us around, we couldn’t run the ball.
“I’m a little surprised that they came out and pushed us around the way they did, but they did.
“They played big boy ball on us in the second half. We’re not used to not being able to match up like that but that’s where it’s at.”
Then, addressing James Madison’s move up to BCS level, and the expectations of his fans, Cignetti was delightfully — at least to an outsider — blunt:
“And that’s part of making this move, it takes a little time to build quality depth. People won’t like to hear that, I don’t give a shit. That’s the freakin’ truth.”
* * * * *
Those glossy rushing numbers notwithstanding, M Cunningham had perhaps his strangest performance.
He was assessed with toting the pigskin 15 times. He gained 35 yards. He lost 35 yards, for an easy to tally 0 yards per carry.
His decision making was . . . odd.
He took three sacks. The Cards suffered 10 TFLs, most of which because MC made decisions that were . . . odd.
The Cards were 1st & Goal at the Dukes’ 4 yard line late in the 2d, thanks to a sweet 40 yard Cunningham to Tyler Hudson pass, catch and scamper.
Then the Cards signal caller took TFLs on 1st and 2d. Again when sacked on 3d down, because he didn’t see his open receiver on a swing pass to the left.
James Madison’s D game plan was to stifle MC’s runs. He never adjusted. (Coach Satt and OC Lance Taylor did. MC’s number was called less in the ground game after halftime.)
Cunningham again missed a receiver on the first possession of the 3d. Marshon Ford was available unguarded for a swing toss, but the QB was sacked.
* * * * *
After U of L scored only a FG on that possession after halftime, it appeared that the Defense would have to win the game.
And would have. Since they held the visitors to a goose egg the rest of the way.
But Cunningham and his mates settled in and took care of biz.
It would be unfair to the Cardinals’ leader not to mention that Cunningham was 14/20 in the air for 223 and three touchdowns and no picks.
But still his performance was . . . odd.
And that’s without mentioning that whole sideline mashup, when he wouldn’t — or couldn’t — let go of a defender’s face mask. Resulting in a skirmish.
* * * * *
Now comes a walk through the shadow of the valley of death.
Which is to say, a victory at Clemson would be biblical.
— c d kaplan