Paul Hornung believes Louisville belongs in the top five after the Cards' Sugar Bowl win over Florida
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Notes Written With Sugar Bowl Confetti:
As a former Heisman Trophy winner, Paul Hornung doesn't have a vote in any of the final college football polls. But if he did, this is where Hornung would vote the University of Louisville after the Cardinals' 33-23 leveling of Florida in the Allstate Sugar Bowl:
"In the top five," Hornung said. "That was a heckuva performance. They came out hitting on the first play and they didn't stop. They didn't leave any doubt they were the better team. Teddy Bridgewater showed without a doubt that he's a first-round draft pick. I'm so impressed by the job Charlie Strong has done."
Despite Hornung's strong endorsement, the top five is likely out of Louisville's reach in the final Associated Press writers' and USA Today coaches' polls. The Cards were voted 22nd in the latest AP poll. Their best chance for a high rating is the coaches' poll, which had U of L ranked 18th on Dec. 2
Here are the teams ranked ahead of U of L in the coaches' poll that have lost their bowls: Northern Illinois (16), Oregon State (14), Louisiana State (7), Kansas State (6) and Florida (4). All least two others will lose with Oklahoma playing Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl and Alabama matched against Notre Dame, Hornung's alma mater, in the BCS title game.
The Cards are a cinch to pass Northern Illinois and Oregon State. But I'm not convinced that voters in either poll will actually put them ahead of LSU or Kansas State.
The most interesting result will be how the Cards are ranked compared to Florida, which was fourth in the USA Today and AP polls, but third in the BCS standings. A 10-point win in a game Louisville led 24-3 doesn't provide much room for debate. Advantage, Cardinals.
But don't be so certain the coaches and writers will agree. Some will look at the full-season resumes of both teams and keep the Gators ahead of Charlie Strong's team. The question: How many?
*Hornung turned 77 two days before Christmas. A series of knee and hip replacement surgeries convinced him not to travel to Miami to watch his beloved Fighting Irish play Alabama for the national title on Monday night.
"Too much walking up and down stairs getting in and out of everything, especially at the stadium," Hornung said. "My wife (Angela) and I will have a nice little dinner and watch the game at home."
Rooting for the Irish, who are holding steady as a 9 ½-point underdog. Hornung, of course, went to Notre Dame from Flaget High School, winning the 1956 Heisman Trophy.
"They can win," Hornung said. "It won't be easy because (Alabama's) Nick Saban is a tremendous coach and Alabama has the advantage in quickness. But Notre Dame has tremendous size on both sides of the line. And Brian Kelly (the Notre Dame coach) has been outstanding."
Hornung agrees that the key to a Notre Dame upset will be the play of Irish quarterback Everett Golson. If Golson can complete enough mid-range passes to keep the Alabama linebackers away from the line of scrimmage, Notre Dame has a chance to run the football and score.
*Don't forget that one of the primary mashers on the Notre Dame offensive line has a solid connection to the University of Kentucky – starting left tackle Zack Martin (6-4, 304) is the son Keith Martin, who played for the Wildcats from 1981-83.
Martin's younger brother, Nick, is listed as the Notre Dame second team right tackle. Like Zack, Nick Martin played at Chatard High School in Indianapolis. Nick originally committed to UK, but changed his mind to follow his brother to South Bend. Martin's mother, Pam, also attended UK, where she was a trainer with the football team.
Zack Martin is considered Notre Dame's best offensive lineman as well as a sure pro. In December, he announced he would return for the 2013 season, in part, because he wants to play one season on the same offensive line with his brother.