Louisville's 49-7 victory over Ohio University was enough to convince the Bobcats' players that the Cards were indeed a Top 10 team.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Frank Solich knows football. Learned it at Nebraska. Experienced it coaching with Tom Osborne. Heisman Trophy winners. First-round NFL draft choices. Five-star recruits. National championship contenders. The works.
Solich works at Ohio University now. But trust me, Frank Solich knows the game. His program has played at Penn State (and won to open last season, remember?), at Ohio State and at Tennessee since he's been at Ohio U.
So when Frank Solich says that this University of Louisville football team is definitely a Top 10 team, you can stop crediting the Cardinals' Number 9 ranking to the Sugar Bowl they won last January.
You can start recognizing the product Charlie Strong has put on the field, considerable talent that beat Ohio, 49-7 Sunday at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. That is as badly as the Bobcats have been beaten since 2005. And this Ohio team didn't fall off the Chump Wall. The Bobcats were picked to win the East Division in the Mid-American Conference by league coaches.
"The way they showed tonight I would think they would be an outstanding candidate for about anything," Solich said.
You can use your imagination for what anything means. But I wouldn't be conservative. Solich said Top 10 for sure. Travis Carrie, an Ohio defensive back, agreed.
"Definitely," Carrie said. "They found a lot of holes in a lot of our coverages."
The only dissenting voice came from the Ohio quarterback, Tyler Tettleton. Top 10, Tyler? No. Try Top Five.
"I've been here for five years now and I think the other team that compares to them is the (2010) Ohio State team when they went to the Sugar Bowl," Tettleton said. "They're very talented from top to bottom."
Ohio finished 8-5 that season and lost to the Buckeyes, 43-7. Solich remembers that game – and that Ohio State won the Sugar Bowl while finishing 12-1.
Is Louisville better? Solich certainly suggested that.
"We didn't give them much resistance," Solich said. "The way they played. The way they executed, the quality of athlete that they've got. I think it's definitely a top 10 team.
"Certainly the best overall team that since I've been at Ohio that we've played. And we've played Ohio State when they were ranked. This is just an outstanding football team."
Prepare for more stories like this as the 2013 season unfolds. A million stories have been written about how favorable the schedule is for this Louisville team. This is the part of the season when teams schedule victories. The remaining teams on the Cardinals' schedule went 4-6 during the first weekend of the season. Not good.
Four of Louisville's next five opponents lost their opening games – and the exception was Eastern Kentucky, an FCS program that visits Papa John's Cardinal Stadium next Saturday.
There are going to be more teams that don't give Louisville much resistance. A string of them. There is not going to be much reason to write about strategy, play by play or game-saving drama.
Louisville is positioned to flatten people and then listen to the flattened opponents discuss whether the Cardinals are deserving of their Top 10 or Top Five ranking.
A few numbers from Sunday: Ohio was behind 21-0 before the Bobcats ran their seventh offensive play. Teddy Bridgewater threw more strikes than Mariano Rivera. He sprayed passes to eight different receivers.
"Teddy is such a smart quarterback," Tettleton said. "He's able to get them in the right situations and he makes the right plays … The way he carries himself. He's so smart it just seems like he makes the right plays, the right throws. He's got a really good arm, too."
No individual on Strong's team ran for more than 58 yards but the Cardinals still rushed for 199 yards, their best total since the 2012 season opener against Kentucky. For at least one game, the offensive line handled the questions.
Ohio averaged nearly 32 points per game last season. The Bobcats got one touchdown on the final play of the third quarter. Louisville played defense the way the Cardinals played defense against Florida, not the way they played it against too many teams last season.
"There are some really elite teams out there," Solich said. "I don't know that they're not."
"They're just loaded and really good," Tettleton said.
Be prepared for more coaches and quarterbacks to say that about Charlie Strong's team this season.