Matt has often said that with a Kentucky win tomorrow, it will be the equivalent of Kentucky losing to Louisville in this year’s Final Four. The fans have been jawing saying they will win by 3 touchdowns plus, with the evidence being a Co-Big East Championship and a loss to NC State in the Belk Bowl. In 2007 the Cards entered the season as the team to bust the National Championship game and force the SEC to play a Big East team. With that being said, which game had more on the line going in, and which loss will have the most repercussions for the Louisville Football program?
Entering the game, my big Cousin Brian Brohm was on the cover of magazines as a threat to win the Heisman. They had won the Orange Bowl, and Brian decided to stay home for another year to get to that title game, after coming up short with a loss at Rutgers in 2006. Louisville fans said they would have won if they had Michael Bush. Entering the game as #9 in the country and a favorite, The Cats had a tall task ahead of them.
Well Steve Johnson decided to get loose inside the last minute for a 50+ yard touchdown that gave the Cats the Final 40-34 win. I could talk all day about how amazing that experience was, but you’ve heard it before and were probably there for it. The result for the Cards: lost BCS National Championship hopes, more losses that lead to a Bowl-less season, Brian dropped to the 2nd round in the draft, Kragthorpe only lasted another year, and the team still hasn’t fully returned to “prominence”. 5 years in the bottom barrel of the Big East.
U of Smell has their 1st preseason ranking since 2007, at #25. Charlie Strong has changed the attitude at U of L, and despite only having a 7-6 record last season and losing at home to Marshall and FIU, they did technically win the Big East (with two others). The Cards won an ugly game in Commonwealth last year, in a game where both teams were very young. Playing at home, the Cardinal wants to show that they’re back for good, and that they can actually stir up some national attention.
A loss Sunday will make people around the nation shake their heads at the Big East. Not only will they lose another home game (they are 6-7 at home since Strong began coaching) but all of their new season ticket holders will have to say, “not again”. It will give Kentucky the chance to go to a Bowl game, and give Joker Phillips the chance to be a long-term coach at UK. Lucky for Louisville, the Big East is the worst it has ever beensince they started playing football. Strong showed that they can bounce back from losses last season, and they should still be able to win the Big East and go to a BCS game (they’ll get destroyed, but Losers don’t care too much).
Bottom Line: While this win will make Louisville fans angrier than a waiter at Porcini’s, the Cards have much more upward mobility this season than they did when Kragthorpe ran the team. 2007 set Louisville back 5 years, and unless Charlie leaves for greener pastures soon, there’s no way a win this year can put the team back as much as Stevie put them back.