December 6, 2011

column: Cincy victory takes Cards out of Orange Bowl contention

By Hunter Saylor–

What a disappointing weekend it was for the Louisville Cardinals football team. They were on the verge of going to their first BCS bowl since 2006. That season, it was Bobby Petrino, who took the Cardinals to the Orange Bowl. In just two seasons, head coach Charlie Strong has taken what was a dreadfully awful Cardinal team to potential Bowl Championship Series contenders. One thing stood in the Cardinals’ way this weekend. The stars were aligned perfectly. Luck was bouncing our way. It all hinged upon one team: the University of Connecticut.

All that had to happen for Louisville to go to the Orange Bowl was for Cincinnati to lose to UConn, and then the Cards would have found themselves in a two-way tie for the Big East championship with West Virginia, who Louisville beat in Morgantown for the first time since 1990 this season. Now, the Cardinals are staring at possibly going to the Liberty Bowl against Vanderbilt.

Halfway through the season, the Cards were 2-4 and Charlie Strong wasn’t sure if they would win another game for the rest of the season. After calling together a senior meeting, he asked what was going wrong. After that meeting, the rest was history. The Cardinals finished out the second half of the season 5-1. That is impressive, considering they are the second youngest team in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Part of the Cardinals’ success this season is due to record-breaking freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The city of Louisville knew this kid was going to be a star as soon as he pummeled the dreadfully awful Kentucky Wildcats. Bridgewater, along with the rest of the Cardinals gave us something to cheer about, something more than a 5-7 team rushing the field. Along with a soon-to-be elite quarterback, the Cardinals defense is the real highlight of the team. All season, they played like one of the best defenses in the country. As soon as the offense can get on the same level as the defense, look out for more future BCS bowls in the future, ones that do not depend on UConn or any other team helping us get there. As the second youngest team in the FBS, we are Big East champions.

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Photo: Michael Baldwin/The Louisville Cardinal

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