Louisville went to Pitt after a big win over Notre Dame in the middle of its season and had a clunker on the road against a team no one would have expected beating the Cards. Tale as old as time. Clunkers happen in college football. Clunkers happen to good teams. The question is: Can you have a clunker game and still win?
Louisville didn’t win its clunker. And hopefully this is the only one of the 2023 season. But Louisville fans don’t have to think really hard to identify clunkers in its history:
- 2001 the #17 Cards went to TCU and absolutely nothing worked. Lost 37-22. UofL finished #16 and Liberty Bowl Champions.
- 2003 a 7-2 Louisville team hosted Memphis and DeAngelo Williams ran all over the Cards. 37-7. Louisville finished 9-3.
- 2005 the Cardinal Bird fell down coming out of the tunnel and the #9 Cards lost to unranked South Florida team. Nothing worked. Louisville finished 9-3 #20 in the Gator Bowl.
- 2011 the Cards had TWO Clunkers in Charlie Strong’s 2nd season: FIU vs. TY Hilton and two weeks later after beating Kentucky when the Cards lost to Marshall.
- 2012 also had TWO. After going 9-0 the #9 Cards lost 45-26 to Syracuse and then lost the following week to UCONN in overtime. Louisville finished #13 and won Sugar Bowl.
- 2014 in Louisville’s 1st year in the ACC #17 Louisville lost to a bad Virginia team in Charlottesville. Louisville finished #24
- 2016 Louisville was #3 and went on the road in November after Wakeyleaks and lost to unranked Houston 36-10. Absolutely nothing worked. Louisville finished #20 in the Citrus Bowl.
- 2017 Louisville hosted Boston College (on October 14th) and let a Lamar Jackson led team get beat 45-42 with AJ Dillon running all over the place.
- 2022 Louisville went to a hapless Boston College and fouled up the game every way imaginable and lost 34-33
- And then finally Saturday night vs. Pitt. Pitt started a new QB, its defense was good and Louisville outgained Pitt by 142 yards…… but they had 3 turnovers and had 4 other fumbles that affected drives when the ball wasn’t lost.
So it was a mess. We’ve seen this at Louisville before. Pitt is a good program that has beaten Louisville 7 of its last 9 meetings. But even Pitt has stunned teams in the past the biggest example was in 2007 when Pitt beat #2 WVU (11-0) 13-9 in the Backyard Brawl. That was a 4-7 Pitt team going into the game.
Now the question is: WHAT IS LOUISIVILLE GOING TO DO NOW? Does Louisville regroup? Do they go in the tank? We’ll see.
But it’s more likely that it’s just one of those nights. Louisville lost RG Renato Brown in pregame warm-ups for crying out loud. Freak stuff happens in clunkers. And freak things happened Saturday in Pittsburgh.
It’s time to get healthy, move on. Louisville will have to work on ball protection, wide receivers clearly need to be more dynamic beyond Jamari Thrash. Not having Jawhar Jordan for much of the game was a major hinderance. Not to mention some of the injuries that happen in the secondary.
It happened. Move on. Lots of things to play for ahead.
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