|In addition to a field painting, the Cards honored Ali|
with a helmet sticker.
From the moment that the Syracuse game ended, with Louisville having blown out a conference foe instead of the worst of the worst in FBS, we felt confident that Louisville might host it's first GameDay. Last Saturday night, our hopes were recognized and Louisville was announced as the host for it's upcoming game against the Florida State Seminoles. Two days later, Louisville cracked the top ten in both polls for the first time since Bobby Petrino returned to the sideline. All week, Twitter was ablaze with predictions, team updates, national game chatter, local game chatter, and, of course, pictures of beautiful GameDay signs.
The story of my GameDay experience began at 6 AM on Friday when I woke up for work. It ended at around 6 yesterday evening when I finally got to sleep. Until then, I hadn't been tired. The excitement before, during, and immediately after the game was like caffeine, keeping me awake and in the moment. My roommates and I left my house at 3:10 Saturday morning on foot. We met up with another friend and finished the trek, getting to the stadium right at 3:30. We had beaten the first bus from campus, but we were still around 130th in line (someone actually came down the line counting). Of course, our position in line didn't matter when, at around 4, someone made a move toward the front of the GameDay queue. Once one person started running, everyone did, and when the front of the line reached its new standing spot, the rest of the line formed a cone, rather than an orderly line. Over the next hour, packed in like sardines, people continued to creep around the edges, forming a mass at the entrance, and making me wonder whether or not they remembered the rules about lines that they surely learned in elementary school.
Finally, about 15 minutes after it was supposed to, the gate to GameDay opened. Much to the dismay of everyone who had brought a sign with the dream of being on TV, however, the time spent waiting in line was not over. The entrance we had just been afforded, which included a "Tailgate Survival Kit" for students and a doughnut or Taco Bell breakfast burrito for all, was not the real entrance to the GameDay Pit. It was just the entrance to the site. My group posted up against the fence outside of the pit, content with our view for the show and excited for the experience. After the Pit officially opened, people were slowly admitted, each sign being meticulously checked (many were discarded). SportsCenter at 7 began and we all got our first taste of the ESPN crowd camera. It seemed as though we didn't disappoint. As the sun rose, a girl came around looking for students outside the Pit. "We're looking for people to be on TV that might want free stuff," she explained. Of course, what else were we there for but to be on TV and get free stuff? We headed toward the Coca-Cola Refresh Section and signed away our rights to be shown on TV. At least, I assume that's what I signed. The first SC Live spot was supposed to take place in a matter of minutes and they needed us to fill in.
After we were raucous in the background once, holding onto various Coke products and making sure the labels were out, the people in charge told us that we could either stick around for the rest of the day, being in the limelight in multiple other live shots, or head out and have our seat filled. Were they crazy? The bleachers we were in had seats, we had free drinks anytime we wanted, and we had among the best views of all. We stuck around. At ten, after the rain had started coming down, we hit the road again, headed for the student ticket line. Much like the GameDay line, this one had started forming at midnight. The line was long, and miserable in the rain. It was made more miserable by the fact that by the time the gates opened, it cycled in at a crawl. We finally got into the gate shortly before 11 and headed to our seats with new Ali shirts and pulled pork nachos.
Skip to here if you only care about the game.
|Fitting with the Ali tribute, Laila Ali was|
the guest picker.
This game felt nothing like general noon kickoffs. In fact, I'm sure that the very next noon kickoff we have will look similar to games past. However, yesterday was different. The crowd was in its collective seat by the time Corso made his pick. We got wild when Corso put on the Cardinal head, and I've never experienced it being louder in PJCS than when the Cards ran out of the tunnel. It was breathtaking. After kickoff, my FitBit told me by heart rate sat at a cool 140 BPM. I was ready. The crowd was ready. And, not least of all, the team was ready.
Since the beginning of the season, when Lamar Jackson began torching defenses, we Louisville fans have heard detractors say that the offense was putting up such ridiculous numbers because of the low quality defenses they faced. When FSU won the toss, they did Bobby Petrino the biggest favor he could ask for; they deferred. By giving Louisville's offense the ball, the Seminoles gave a prime Heisman candidate the chance to take the lead and the crowd a chance to get even more into the game. Lamar and the Cardinals took full advantage of the opportunity and scored in just over three minutes. The defense followed it up with a three-and-out and the house was rocking and rolling. After Ricky Aguayo uncharacteristically missed a 49 yarder wide left, Louisville was up 14-0 and missed a field goal of their own. They took a 14-3 lead into the second quarter before FSU finally broke the Louisville defense for a touchdown. At that point, up 14-10, it looked like the crowd was in for a barn burner.
|Like the whole team, Lamar Jackson ran away from FSU.|
Right then, something happened. Louisville rattled off 21 unanswered points to go into the half 35-10. It didn't feel real, and it definitely didn't feel safe. Jimbo Fisher is an absolute genius when it comes to halftime adjustments. I felt good about the lead, but I knew that if the Cards let up, it could disappear. However, when teams came out after the half, the intensity hadn't gone anywhere. Louisville started the second half with yet another stop and went on to score four more touchdowns before taking out the starters. Though the final score was 63-20, the Louisville starters effectively won by 50, with the second team offense unable to score and the backups on defense giving up ten garbage time points. It was unbelievable. I'm still not even sure I've wrapped my head around it.
|This picture of Lee Corso (blue shirt-- center) after James|
Quick's catch and run for TD pretty much says it all.
After yesterday's win, the stage is set for a magical Louisville season. It's important that the Cards don't overlook Marshall next week, but it's very likely that they'll be involved in GameDay again in two weeks at Clemson. If this team, and Lamar Jackson, keeps playing this way, we fans may be in for a very exciting winter. I'm looking forward to it, and I hope you are too.
The Cardinal Couple Radio Hour rebroadcast can be heard at the link below.
The Cardinal Couple Radio Hour rebroadcast can be heard at the link below.
More on the Cards
Yesterday, the Women's soccer team extended their good start with a victory at Pittsburgh. Pitt is struggling this year, but it is always good to start conference play with a win. They're on the road again on Thursday against Duke.
After a difficult first loss of the season Friday against Duke, Louisville field hockey looks to get back on track today against Ohio State.
As always, until next time, Go Cards.