LOUISVILLE, Ky – Two teams, one played.
In the Kentucky 42 degree whether, the Bulls showed up for their game with No. 10 Louisville, but did little on the playing side until late in their 31-8 loss.
Before a sellout crowd of 40,348 at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, showed up quiet and left quietly following the loss.
“They came out and put it down our throats,” quarterback Matt Grothe said. “They came to play and we didn’t. It’s all a loss, we are all frustrated.”
The Cardinals weren’t worried about revenge Saturday night. That amazing 45-14 uspet USF (7-4, 3-3) pulled last season was, as it was said all week, in the past. Louisville (9-1, 4-1), with the help of Cincinnati, receives a second chance at a Big East Championship after the Bearcats upset No. 15 Rutgers 30-11 on Saturday. If the Scarlet Knights lose to No. 7 West Virginia on Dec. 2, and Louisville wins out the rest of its season and already have already beaten the Mountaineers, would have sole possession of the conference.
“It’s a good league and really tough,” coach Bobby Petrino said. “When you see all the athletic players in this league and how tough it is week in and week out, that’s what stands out to you. It’s very tough and very physical and there’s no time to relax. You can’t take a week off.”
Though it looked like the Bulls might have taken the weekend off. In the first half alone, the USF mustered just 130 yards on 30 offensive plays, while going three-and-out on their first three series, and then kicker Delbert Alvarado missed a 37-yard field on the fourth.
“Going into the halftime, I really felt good about the game,” Leavitt said. “Our defense did some good things and did some bad things. … I thought the defense played good in the first half.”
The Bulls defense did start off well enough, also forcing the Cardinals to go three-and-out in their first three possessions, and then even causing a fumble on a long pass play from quarterback Brian Brohm to receiver Kolby Smith.
Though USF let the Cardinals do what they do routinely – rack up points and yards on offense. Coming into the game, Louisville was ranked second in the nation in total offense (467 yards per game) and sixth in scoring offense (37 points per game).
Louisville went about par for the game, totaling up 446 yards of offense and the 31 points. Brohm, who passed for a career-high 389 yards against USF last season despite the upset, torched the Bulls secondary of 274 yards on 19-of-33 passing.
“It was very frustrating, there is nothing else you can say,” junior linebacker Ben Moffitt said. “We lost a chance to maybe share a championship and we lost and it hurts. It hurts really bad.”
The secondary also had no answer for receiver Harry Douglas, who had two touchdown on what appeared to be the same slant route just five yards from the goal line. The Bulls, however, pulled out a late score on a 44-yard pass from Grothe to receiver Amp Hill, his first career touchdown reception.
“We didn’t play very well – we lost,” Grothe said. They weren’t as good as I thought they were going to be. We had some missed assignments that we couldn’t get.”
Leavitt added he wasn’t happy with second half, which the offense had just 107 yards and the defense allowed 21 points after holding Louisville to just 10 in the first. All in all, Leavitt said the Cardinals numbers made no difference in their win.
“The second half really disappointed me,” Leavitt said. “We just didn’t play very well. I don’t care about statistics. We lost a football game. If I worried about stats, we wouldn’t win anyways.”