Sunday, September 30, 2012

Win Comes with Loss (of Sleep)

I felt grumpy Saturday after my beloved Louisville Cardinals ran their record to 5-0 with a slim, come-from-behind, 21-17, victory at Southern Mississippi on a soggy night in Hattiesburg. But my fellow Cards fans were surprisingly upbeat on Twitter.

Their comments included these themes: 
  • Yee Haw, we’re 5-0!
  • Oh well, the conditions were horrible and we won.
  • Maybe we needed this scare anyway.
  • Everything is irrelevant until Big East play starts. 

Perhaps it was because I was up past my bedtime reading Twitter instead of going to sleep, but I couldn’t be as optimistic. Sure, I’m happy to be 5-0, but U of L has now played 10 quarters of pretty uninspiring football.

They blame the rain, but I don't.
The Cards have played in the slop for the past couple of weeks, but so have their opponents. Conditions aren’t always going to be ideal. Both teams have to adapt. So I’m not ready to pull a Milli Vanilli and blame it on the rain.

In terms of needing a scare, the Cards have had three straight. Louisville nearly coughed up a 36-7 lead against North Carolina before breaking up a potential game-winning pass. They came from behind to beat Florida International of the Sun Belt conference. Then, against Southern Miss of Conference USA, they had to both come from behind and hold on. If U of L hasn’t been scared straight yet, then it’s probably not going to happen.

By comparison, Southern Miss was throttled 42-17 just a week earlier by Western Kentucky University. I bet WKU also beats FIU by a greater margin than Louisville. Although I respect what Willie Taggart is accomplishing at Western, that shouldn’t happen.

Finally, there’s the notion that what really matters is the conference schedule and its attendant BCS bid, not these lackluster road games at FIU and USM. However, even with West Virginia leaving for the Big 12, the Big East looks tougher than expected. Just ask Virginia Tech of the ACC, which lost to both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Additionally, although Charlie Strong’s teams have shown the ability to improve throughout the season, I’m not convinced that U of L’s defense is suddenly going to snap to attention once conference play starts.

Some people think this could be a pretty special season. After all, Louisville returns most of its key players from last year’s Big East champions. Others believe the Cards might be a year away because of their youth. After five games, it seems cases could be made for both. Today, I’m leaning toward the later, but maybe just because I need some rest. 

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