Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Year in Review

Welcome to this segment on mediocre BCS squads and decent lower tier teams.

60. Tennessee (6-7, 3-5 SEC)
The Original Forecast: After a surprise bowl season in '09, the Volunteers were jilted by coach Lane Kiffin for USC, and the Derek Dooley era began. No-one expected much of them again this year, especially with a tough conference schedule and a number of key players graduating. It looked like a 3 or 4 win season was imminent.

The Outcome: The Vols just want to keep on surprising. After starting the season 2-6 and appearing to fulfill expectations, UT went on a four game winning streak to earn a bowl appearance, which they lost 30-27 to North Carolina in double overtime. The reasons for the turnaround are many, but QB was definitely a factor. Matt Simms started the season and was solid with 1460 yards and 8 TDs against 5 interceptions. But it was when Tyler Bray took over full time that the Vols really exploded. Bray passed for 1849 yards and 18 TDs, although with 10 picks, 7 in the last three games. He brought a big play element that wasn't obvious is Simms' play. The running attack was almost non-existent outside of Tauren Poole, who ran for 1034 yards and 11 TDs. Denarius Moore provided that big-play threat with 47 catches for 981 yards and 9 TDs. The defense got better as the season went along and they were particularly good against the pass. They gave up some yards, but allowed just 14 TDs against 18 interceptions, despite a pass rush that managed just 26 sacks. FS Janzen Jackson had 69 tackles and 4 interceptions with 11 passes defended, while corner Prentiss Waggner had 57 tackles and another 5 picks, with 9 passes defended. Nick Reveiz led the team with 108 tackles, 6 for loss. After a poor start to the season, the Vols really turned on the jets in the last five games, and the season should be counted as a relative success.

Best Game: A week after pummeling local rivals Memphis 50-14, the Vols went even better blowing out Mississippi 52-14. In a game that was never close, Bray threw for 323 yards and 3 TDs, with Justin Hunter catching 3 for 114 yards and 2 scores. Tauren Poole kept things ticking over on the ground with 107 yards and 2 TDs. For Ole Miss, QB Jeremiah Masoli threw for just 80 yards and 3 picks, although Brandon Bolden ran for 113 yards and 2 scores. But that didn't matter in a game that was never really close. A statement game for Tennessee.

Worst Game: A month before the Ole Miss win, Tennessee traveled to Georgia. With hopes of getting off to a fast start, the Vols instead spotted the Bulldogs a 17-0 lead in the first quarter. Simms threw for 179 yards and a score, but the running attack managed only 9 yards. Georgia QB Aaron Murray threw for 266 yards and 2 scores, and ran for 41 and another pair to spark the victory. A tough loss where little went right for the Vols.

59. UCLA (4-8, 2-7 PAC 10)
The Original Forecast: Coach Rick Neuheisel had targeted 8 wins for the season, but not many believed that was possible. After a year in a new offense, improvement was expected this season. but they still lacked firepower. A tough schedule made it unlikely the Bruins would make a bowl game.

The Outcome: I guess Neuheisel was half right, with a mere 4 wins. The running attack was outstanding, but the passing attack actually averaged nearly 35 yards a game LESS than the run. Starting QB Kevin Prince was knocked out early in the season, but he was far from outstanding, throwing for just 384 yards and 3 TDs against 5 interceptions. Sophomore Richard Brehaut stepped in and was a bit better, throwing for 1296 yards and 6 TDs with 7 picks. Jonathon Franklin led the running attack with 1127 yards and 8 TDs, with good backup from Derrick Coleman who had 487 yards and 5 TDs. Taylor Embree was the top receiver with a mere 32 catches for 409 yards with no scores. The defense wasn't bad against the pass, but was terrible against the run allowing an average of 205.5 yards a game. OLBs Sean Westgate and Akeem Ayers combined for 158 tackles with 20 for loss, but big plays were few and far between. A dissatisfying season that promised improvement early but went downhill too quickly.

Best Game: The Bruins headed to Texas off the back of a solid win over Houston, hoping to sweep Texas teams, and boy did they. Texas turned the ball over 5 times in a 34-12 rout. Prince threw for just 27 yards, but still managed a TD pass. Franklin and Coleman combined for 212 yards and 2 scores on the ground. Texas QB Garrett Gilbert threw for 264 yards and a TD, with a pick, but it was four fumbles that cost Texas. A win that seemed far more of a scalp at the time, but a good win nonetheless.

Worst Game: California weren't particularly special this season and the Bruins expected to at least compete when they got there. They were wrong, getting trounced 35-7 with the offense going nowhere fast. Prince managed just 99 yards passing with a TD and an interception in his last game of the season. The vaunted UCLA running game mustered a mere 26 yards and Jonathon Franklin coughed up the ball at an inopportune moment when the game was still in reach. For Cal, QB Kevin Riley threw for only 83 yards and a score, but Shane Vereen ran for 151 yards and 2 scores and Isi Sofele chipped in with 80. A bad loss against local and division rivals.

58. Baylor (7-6, 4-4 Big 12)
The Original Forecast: The '09 season went downhill as soon as star QB Robert Griffin III was injured, and Baylor needed a full year from him in order to compete for a bowl game. The offense is night and day better with him, but the defense needed to pull its socks up and pitch in. The OOC was manageable outside of TCU, and there were enough winnable conference games to hit bowl eligibility. But it's all for nothing if Griffin's knee doesn't hold up against a Big 12 pounding.

The Outcome: The drought is over - Baylor started the season 7-2 behind a prolific offense before the wheels fell off the wagon and they lost their last four games -the tough partof the schedule - by double digits each. The offense was ranked 19th in passing and 24th in rushing, but the defense struggled mightily against powerhouse offenses. And Illinois. Griffin was outstanding, passing for 3501 yards and 22 TDs with just 8 picks, and running for 635 yards and another 8 scores. The offensive line played its part, allowing just 20 sacks and clearing holes for RB Jay Finley to rush for 1218 yards and 12 TDs. Kendall Wright was the top receiver with 78 catches for 952 yards and 7 TDS, but four other guys caught more than 40 passes to give Griffin plenty of options. SS Byron Landor led the defense with 127 tackles and 6 passes defended, but managed just one interception. Much was expected of Penn State transfer Phil Taylor at nose guard, but he managed just 4 tackles for loss, although he led the team with 5 sacks. Gettinng Baylor to a bowl game has to count as a success for coach Art Briles, but the 0-4 finish where they fell flat against string teams shows just how far the team must go to start contending for titles. If Briles keeps getting the Bears to bowl games, he may not be around to see it.

Best Game: This might be the year the Bears beat Texas, but the manner in which they hammered Kansas 55-7 has to count as their best performance. The Baylor offense racked up 678 yards of offense and the defense forced four turnovers. Griffin threw for 380 yards and 3 TDs (a 94 yarder!) and ran for 64 yards and a score. Josh Gordon and Terrance Williams combined for 8 receptions, 262 yards, and 4 scores. The defense not only had the turnovers, but brought an interception back for six, had 3 sacks, and held Kansas to a mere 270 yards of offense. Outstanding!

Worst Game: When you make your first bowl game since '94, you better show up to play. Unfortunately, the Bears took to long to get started, falling behind 24-0 in a 38-14 loss. The defense had no answer for Illinois RB Mikel Leshoure who ran for 184 yards and 3 TDs. Freshman QB Nathan Scheelhaase threw for 242 yards and also ran 55 yards for the final TD. Griffin threw for 306 yards and a score, and got the Bears to within 10 points before the Fighting Illini pulled away. However he fumbled the ball on the first drive that set the tone for the day. A disappointing first bowl for Briles and Baylor.

57. Michigan (7-6, 3-5 Big 10)
The Original Forecast: This was a bowl or bust season for coach Rich Rodriguez, but questions were abound regarding the team. Who would be QB; how would the 3-3-5 defensive scheme hold up against the black-and-blue offenses of the Big 10; and would they be able to compete against a tough schedule. Even if some or all of these questions are answered, the team still might only win 6 or 7 games in a tough conference.

The Outcome: Well, they made their bowl game, but it wasn't enough to save Rodriguez's job. They started surprisingly well, going 5-0 behind an inspired performance from QB Denard Robinson, but finished 2-6 when the schedule got tougher. The offense was great, ranking 3t6th in passing and 13th in rushing, but the defense was dreadful, finishing 108th in points allowed and allowing over 450 yards in total offense. LB Jonas Mouton and SS Jordan Kovacs were the leading tacklers with a combined 233, 17 for loss, but there was practically no pass rush and too few turnovers too help out. The story of the offense was Robinson - he had an amazing year, throwing for 2570 yards and 18 TDs with an okay 11 interceptions, and ran for an outstanding 1702 yards and 14 TDs. Vincent Smith was the leading running back with just 601 yards and 5 TDs, but he was used more as a decoy and was decent. Ray Roundtree was Robinson's favorite target, catching 72 passes for 935 yards and 7 TDs, but he had bouts of drops at inopportune moments. The offense was finally run as Rodriguez wanted it, but the defense has regressed throughout his tenure and cost him his job despite the bowl. An improvement, but just not enough.

Best Game: Robinson showed his talent from Day 1 against Connecticut, but the following week against Notre Dame he showed he could win with the game on the line too in a 28-24 win. He had a great game, throwing for 244 yards and a score and running for 258 yards and 2 TDs, including an 87 yard run to spot the Wolverines a 21-7 half-time lead. Martavious Odoms and Roundtree were reliable targets all night, combining for 15 receptions, 173 yards and a TD. Notre Dame wouldn't go away though, with Dayne Crist shaking off a first half concussion to throw 2 long TDs to lead the Irish back to a 24-21 lead with 3:41 left. TE Kyle Rudolph did most of the damage with 8 catches for 164 yards and a 95 yard TD reception. Robinson marched Michigan back down the pitch, mixing run and pass well, to score on a 2 yard run with just 27 seconds left. Crist nearly brought ND back, but overthrew the endzone with no time left on the clock. A good win over a decent opponent, something rare this season.

Worst Game: Losing to Ohio State hurt, but the 52-14 bowl thrashing at the hands of Mississippi State was downright awful. Don't get me wrong, the Bulldogs are a good team, but not this good. Bulldog QB Chris Relf threw for 281 yards and 3 TDs and ran for another, while RB Vic Ballard picked up 76 yards and 3 TDs. Robinson threw for 254 yards and 2 scores, and ran for 59, but Michigan just seemed to give up after going up 14-10. To highlight the futility of the Wolverine defense, MSU converted 5 first downs on the evening. A bad end to a tough season.

56. Kansas State (7-6, 3-5 Big 12)
The Original Forecast: Kansas State surprised many with their 6 win season in '09, and more was expected of them this season. They had questions at QB, but had the type of runner - Daniel Tomas - who could win games on his own. The defense was also a question mark, but Snyder built a solid foundation through the JUCO route and the Wildcats should be good for 7 or 8 wins.

The Outcome: The Wildcats had a 7 win season and were competitive in most games. The passing game was poor, but Thomas carried the offense for the second straight season. The defense was okay against the pass, but was terrible against the run, allowing 231.4 yards per game. This was despite the efforts of corner David Garrett who led the team with 92 tackles, 15 for loss, and 10 passes defended. Yes, that was a corner. On offense, QB Carson Coffman threw for 2060 yards and 14 TDs against just 7 picks. He also ran for 157 yards and 9 TDs. Backup Collin Klein played some too, throwing for 138 yards and a TD, and running for 432 yards and 6 scores. Thomas was the key though, gaining 1585 yards and 19 TDs. The top receiver was Aubrey Quarles, who had a respectable 51 catches for 760 yards and 5 scores. Not a bad season for the most part. They started fast and used an easy OOC schedule to pad the win column, but they had some good wins too. They need to seriously strengthen the front seven if they have any desire to compete for Big 12 titles.

Best Game: Beating Texas is sweet for any Big 12 team, but the manner of K-State's 39-14 victory made it all the more sweet. What was even more surprising was Klein getting the start over Coffman at QB. Klein only threw 4 passes, completing 2 (to Thomas) for just 9 yards, but he ran for 127 yards and 2 scores, creating a 1-2 punch with Thomas, who ran for 106 yards and another 2 TDs. The defense allowed Texas to move the ball, QB Garrett Gilbert threw for 272 yards and a TD and ran for 93 yards, but they picked him off 5 times in building a 39-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Gilbert finally figured out which team he played for in the fourth quarter and led two TD drives, but the game was well over long beforehand. A great scalp for the Wildcats.

Worst Game: It's no secret that the Wildcats aren't quite ready for beating the big boys week in, week out, but they were competitive in every game bar one - Nebraska. The Cornhuskers shut down Thomas, holding him to just 63 yards in a 48-13 blowout. Coffman managed just 91 yards, a TD and an interception in 14 completions. For Nebraska, QB Taylor Martinez threw just 7 passes, completing 5 for 128 yards and a score, but also ran for 241 yards and 4 TDs, including an 80 yarder. RB Roy Helu ran for 110 yards as Nebraska ran over the Wildcats to the tune of 451 yards. Disgraceful.

55. Connecticut (8-5, 5-2 Big East)
The Original Forecast: With 16 starters returning and the rest of the Big East suffering through change, this was to be UConn's year to take a step up in the FBS after being on the verge for a while. They lacked a passing game, but had a solid running attack and defense. Their OOC schedule wasn't difficult, and the team may pull off and 10 wins, and were to be considered contenders in the Big East.

The Outcome: Pretty much as predicted, except the easy OOC and 10 win season. Michigan and Temple turned out to be stiffer propositions, but the tenacious Huskies went 6-2 in the Big East and got the BCS spot courtesy of beating both West Virginia and Pittsburgh. The passing game was again a problem, especially when Cody Endres was gone. Zach Frazer started the season, and came back in when Endres went out, but only threw for 1425 yards, 5 TDs and 6 interceptions. Endres threw for 471 yards and 5 scores against 2 picks in just three games, but was kicked off the team. The Huskies managed to win 8 games in spite of the passing attack courtesy of superstar RB Jordan Todman, who gained 1695 yards and 14 TDs. Michael Smith was their leading receiver with 46 catches for 615 yards and 2 TDs. Their defense was tough most of the season, ranking 35th in points allowed with just 22 points per game. Lawrence Wilson led the team with 123 tackles, with 10 for loss, while Sio Moore had 110 tackles with 11.5 for loss. FS Jerome Junior and Blidi Wilson-Wreh had 4 picks apiece. DE Jessee Joseph led the team with 8.5 sacks. A fine season for the Huskies, despite the loss to Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, but the success cost them their coach Randy Edsall, who has become head coach at Maryland.

Best Game: A week after beating West Virginia in overtime, Pittsburgh arrived in town with designs on cementing their conference lead. They hadn't counted on Jordan Todman though. Todman ran for 222 yards to pace UConn, and Frazer threw for just 100 yards but 2 TDS, as the Huskies won a nail-biter 30-28. UConn also got a 95 yard kick return TD as the third quarter closed. For the Panthers, QB Tino Sunseri threw for 220 yards and a TD, but was picked off twice. Dion Lewis and Ray Graham combined for 152 yards and 3 TDs on the ground. UConn had a 4th and 1 at their own 19 with 2 and a half minutes left, and Edsall went for it, getting the conversion and running out the clock. An excellent win that spearheaded their BCS charge.

Worst Game: Connecticut traveled to Louisville with the aim of getting back on track after losing to Rutgers the previous week, but did little right in a 26-0 beating. The managed just 195 yards against the Cardinals medicore defense, and turned the ball over three times. What was even worse was the Louisville special teams dominating the Huskies normally strong unit. Four field goals and a 74 yard TD punt return from Doug Beaumont piled on the misery. The other score was a pass Adam Froman, who threw for 195 yards, to Cameron Graham. Bilal Powell ran for for 105 yards. The loss that turned the season around for the Huskies.

54. Navy (9-4 Independents)
The Original Forecast: Navy won ten games in '09 and though it was unlikely, could possibly do it again this season. The schedule was manageable, and they had a Heisman hopeful at QB in Ricky Dobbs. The likelihood of them missing a bowl game for the first time in 8 years was slim to none.

The Outcome: Navy were just 12 points from a 12-1 season, losing to Maryland, Air Force (oops!) and Duke. They were solid all round as usual, with a fine running attack and defense, and were even quite efficient on those rare moments when they passed. Dobbs didn't win the Heisman, but he did throw for 1527 yards, 13 TDs and 6 picks, while rushing for 967 yards and 14 TDs. FB Alexander Teich rushed for 863 yards and 5 scores and plenty of other backs contributed too. Greg Jones did a good job at receiver, catching 33 passes for 662 yards and 5 TDs. On defense, LB Tyler Simmons led the team with 131 tackles, while DE Jabaree Tuani had 10 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. Billy Yarborough on the other end led the team with 6 sacks. A fine year that was somewhat marred by a bowl blowout and losing the Commander-In-Chief trophy to Air Force.

Best Game: The Navy offense rarely scored more than 35 all season, so when they went to East Carolina and hung 76 on the Pirates to their 35, it was an impressive performance. Dobbs completed 6 of 8 passes for 75 yards and 2 scores, and ran for 100 yards and another TD. Teich was the main man though, with 157 yards and a score. In all, eight different players scored TDs. ECU QB Dominique Davis had a big day with 413 yards and 5 TDs, but not he even he could counter an inept defense or an offense that coughed the ball up 4 times, including 3 in 4 snaps. An outstanding example of how to execute the triple option.

Worst Game: Losing the Commander-In-Chief trophy to Air Force after 7 consecutive wins has to sting. Dobbs completed just 6 of 18 passes for 103 yards and 2 interceptions,while running for just 43 yards. Falcon QB Tim Jefferson was the better of the two, completing 5 of 7 passes for 83 yards, while running for 62 yards and both scores. FB Jared Tew kept things ticking over with 111 yards on the ground. A disappointing loss in an otherwise good season.

53. Georgia (6-7, 3-5 SEC)
The Original Forecast: This had the look of a transition year in Athens, with a number of new faces at key positions, including a freshman QB. The schedule was tough from the start (well, week 2) and there was little respite for new guys to get comfortable. There was an abundance of talent with which to contend for the East title, but with inexperienced players at key positions, an 8 win season was probably more likely.

The Outcome: The season started badly, going 1-4, before finishing 5-2 before their bowl loss. The Bulldogs remained pretty competitive throughout, never getting blown away, and there were some bright spots, such as the play of QB Aaron Murray. He threw for 3049 yards and 24 TDs with 8 interceptions, while running for 167 yards and another 4 scores, and looks like he could take Georgia back to competing for SEC titles. He could do with more help from a running game that was inconsistent at best. Washaun Ealey was the leading rusher with 811 yards and 11 TDs, but they finished 73rd overall. Receiver AJ Green rounded out his college career by leading the team with 57 receptions for 848 yards and 9 TDs, despte a four game suspension to start the season. The defense was good, carrying the team for the most part, bot fell asleep on occasion - they had four games with 31+ points in the last five. ILB Akeem Dent led the team with 126 tackles, 6.5 for loss, but OLB Justin Houston was the big play guy with 8.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks, and an outstanding 44 QB hurries. They were somewhat unfortunate in their scheduling, and where a much better team by season's end, but the bowl loss to UCF was shocking. This was Georgia's worst season in some time.

Best Game: With one more shot at bowl eligibility, and Georgia Tech coming to town, the Bulldogs needed to do something to try to save something of their season. Step forward Murray, who completed 15 of 19 passes for 271 yards and 3 TDs, and Ealey who 118 yards and 2 scores. Green didn't get in the endzone in his penultimatel game, but caught 8 passes for 97 yards. They nearly blew it too, allowing Tech to run for 411 yards, led by Anthony Allen with 166 and a score. The Yellowjackets got to within a point, but the Bulldogs answered with Ealey's second score and Tech couldn't respond. A big win with the postseason on the line.

Worst Game: With the offense humming in previous weeks, few people expected the bowl matchup with UCF to be close. But the Knights did enough to stop Georgia when it mattered in a 10-6 victory. Murray threw for 198 yards and two interceptions and the running game just managed 82 yards. Green caught 8 passes, but was limited to 77 yards and UCF made sure he didn't beat them. UCF running back Latavius Murray ran for 104 yards and the clinching TD to key the victory. A disappointing finish to a lost season.

52, Clemson (6-7, 4-4 ACC)
The Original Forecast: After winning the ACC title in '09, one would expect something similar from the Tigers again this season. But Clemson never seems to maximize its level talent, usually frustrating fans by falling short, particularly when expectations are high. Many new faces were taking over this season, but Clemson always have a good haul of talent on campus, and were more than capable of contending for the ACC title again. They had a tough schedule after a couple of layup games early on, and most likely this would be a tough season.

The Outcome: And it was - the offense struggled most of the season when even mediocrity would suffice, as Clemson's defense was outstanding, ranking 13th in points allowed. They made both passing and running a chore, but even this defense couldn't stem the tide when it spent too much time on the field. DE Da'Quan Bowers was the man of the hour with 74 tackles, 10.5 for loss, 15.5 sacks and 20 QB hurries. SS DeAndre McDaniel led the team with 84 tackles, 5.5 for loss, and also led with 4 interceptions. These were the stars of the show, but the strong defense was definitely a team effort. On offense, QB Kyle Parker was mediocre at best, throwing for 2213 yards, 12 TDs and 11 interceptions. Freshman receiver DeAndre Hopkins led the team with 51 catches, 626 yards, and 4 TDs, which says a lot about the receivers. To be fair to Hopkins, he got better as the season progressed and looks like a good one. Clemson needed two players to replace '09 star RB CJ Spiller, and they weren't too bad. Speedy Andre Ellington was the better runner, gaining 686 yards and 10 TDs despite missing three games late in the season. He's a small back, but did okay carrying the load. Jamie Harper was a tank, powering for 760 yards and 7 TDs, most of them coming when Ellington was injured. This was a tough season, with most of their losses close (including an OT loss to Auburn). Better QB play would have made the difference, and Parker's performance epitomized the season - average.

Best Game: With the Tigers sitting at 4-4, and #25 NC State coming to town, the season looked to be going downhill in a hurry, especially with some tough games due up too. The Wolfpack were quite the offensive juggernaut with QB Russell Wilson dissecting defenses at his leisure. Not this one - Clemson put the clamps on, holding him to 212 yards and a TD, and intercepting him in the endzone. The Tigers held the NC State running attack to 63 yards, leading the Wolfpack to decide to punt on 4th and 1 late in the game, a punt which managed just 4 yards. Clemson also blocked a 30 yard field goal, and were fortunate to have TD interception return nullified by penalty. For the Tigers, Parker threw for 214 yards and a TD and interception, providing most of the offense as Ellington was out injured and Harper was suffering from a virus. He still managed to run for 60 yards and the game winning TD though. A good win when things were looking bleak.

Worst Game: With bowl eligibility assured, Clemson had a chance to show their ability with the annual battle with South Carolina. They fell flat on their faces, losing 29-7. The defense was pretty solid, holding freshman sensation Marcus Lattimore to 48 rushing yards. Stephen Garcia threw for 227 yards and a pair of TDs, but only Alshon Jeffrey did any real damage with 5 receptions for 141 yards and a score. The Tiger offense, on the other hand, took the day off. Between Parker and Tajh Boyd, they passed for just 190 yards and turned the ball over 3 times. The running attack never got going with just 61 yards. There was one bright spot on offense - Hopkins caught 7 passes for 124 yards and the only TD. An otherwise poor showing when they should at least be competitive.

51. Louisville (7-6, 3-4 Big East)
The Original Forecast: New coach Charlie Strong is a good recruiter who should be able to increase the talent level in Lexington in a hurry, but a tough schedule and the current roster most likely means a winning season is beyond them.

The Outcome: Take a bow, Charlie Strong. Not only did you inspire the team to win 8 games, but you did it with a star performance from RB Bilal Powell, a tough defense, and on the flip side, a mediocre passing game. Powell was easily the star of the show, rushing for 1405 yards and 11 TDs, and catching another 3 scores. The QBs Adam Froman and Justin Burke combined for 2423 yards and 21 TDs against 7 interceptions. They were careful with the ball, but neither will make fans forget Brian Brohm. TE Cameron Graham and receiver Doug Beamount combined for 81 catches, 910 yards and 6 TDs. Beaumont is capable of better. The real story was the defense though, as it has been dire lately. They allowed an average of just 19.4 points per game, and were extremely tough to pass on. Rodney Gnat led the team with 9 sacks, while CB Johnny Patrick was excellent, intercepting 5 passes and defending 17 passes. After being tagged by pretty much every authority to prop up the Big East, the Cardinals and Strong came up with a fine season and topped it off with a nice come-from-behind bowl win.

Best Game: With bowl eligibility on the line and a trip to struggling Rutgers on the cards, Louisville need to pull off the win. In recent seasons they'd most likely have lost, but this year they steamrolled the Scarlet Knights 40-13. The defense was key, sacking Rutgers QBs 9 times and intercepting them twice, with one late in the fourth quarter returned for a TD to close out the scoring. Burke needed just 11 passes, completing 9 for 138 yards and 2 TDs. Powell keyed the ground attack with 123 yards and a score. If there was one negative, Rutgers had some success on the ground, with Jordan Thomas gaining 120 yards and a score. A fine victory nonetheless.

Worst Game: With the Cardinals showing they were no walkover, they traveled to Pittsburgh with the intention of making some noise in the conference. The only noise they made was going belly up against a Panther team that shut them down without Powell. Powell injured his knee early, and Louisville could get nothing going after that. Burke threw for just 82 yards, while the running game sans Powell made just 18 yards. For Pittsburgh, QB Tino Sunseri managed just 123 yards against the tough Cardinals secondary, but Dion Lewis and Ray Graham pounded for 105 yards and a score. With the Louisville offense, they didn't need more. A loss that showed how much work the team has to go.


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