LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A few nuggets to add to your tailgate before Louisville and Miami meet at 8 p.m. tonight . . .
NINTH STRAIGHT OPENER AT HOME: When University of Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart decided to move the annual state rivalry meeting with U of L to the third game in years in which it is played in Lexington, one thing it meant for U of L is that it would get to open at home every year. Tonight's game will mark the ninth straight year the Cards will open at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. They are 6-2 in the previous eight. The streak will end next season when U of L faces Auburn in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic in Atlanta. (UK and U of L now meet in the final game of the season through an agreement between their conferences.)
DESCRIBING THE GAME: ESPN will have Rece Davis in the booth tonight, along with analysts David Pollack and Jesse Palmer. Samantha Ponder will serve as sideline reporter. The game also gets a national radio broadcast on Westwood One, with Scott Graham on play-by-play. In Louisville, Paul Rogers, a National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Famer, will handle play-by-play duties with Craig Swabeck as analyst and Doug Ormay on the sideline.
ON TWITTER: You can follow U of L football on Twitter @UofLFootball, and catch the Miami side of things @CanesFootball. For updates during the game, follow WDRB writers Eric Crawford @ericcrawford and Rick Bozich @rickbozich. ESPN is using the hashtag #MIAvsLOU, and you can follow it for posts about the game before, during and after.
LOUISVILLE OWNS NATION'S THIRD-LONGEST WIN STREAK: With Central Florida losing to Penn State, U of L's six-game win streak from the end of last season now stands as the third-longest active streak in the nation. Fellow ACC member and defending national champion Florida State has the longest, at 17 straight, while Michigan State has won 11 in a row.
BOBBY IS BACK: Bobby Petrino begins his second stint as U of L coach tonight. He was 41-9 in his first four-year tour in Louisville, including 22-1 at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. In season openers, Petrino is a perfect 9-0 in his career, with an average victory margin of 24 points. His last opener as a coach at Louisville was a 58-29 win over Kentucky.
LOUISVILLE SETS NEW SEASON-TICKET RECORD: Louisville has sold more season tickets for this season (46,149) than attended the last home opener Petrino coached here (42,597). Papa John's Cardinal Stadium has undergone an expansion since then.
CARDINALS VS. MIAMI HISTORY LESSON: Tonight's game will be the first time U of L has faced the same opponent in consecutive games since the 1955 and '56 seasons, when coach Frank Camp's Cardinals beat Toledo 33-13 in the 1955 season finale to finish 7-2, then beat them 27-12 to open what would be a 6-3 campaign in 1956. U of L great Lenny Lyles led the Cardinals to victory in both games. This year, after pounding Miami 36-9 in the Russell Athletic Bowl, the Cardinals face Miami again. They've won two straight against the Hurricanes, by a combined score of 66-16. Miami leads the overall series, however, 9-2-1. Petrino is 1-1 against Miami. Hurricanes coach Al Golden is 0-2 against U of L, with one loss coming while at Temple and the last in the bowl meeting between the teams last season. Miami is 0-1 in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, but 4-1-1 in Louisville overall.
HIGH SCHOOL REUNION: When Louisville linebacker Keith Brown hooks up with Miami star running back Duke Johnson, and it might happen often, it'll be a high school reunion. The two were teammates at Norland High School in Miami. It's one of a number of high-school get togethers on these two rosters of players who know each other well. U of L has 30 Florida natives on its roster, and an assistant coach, Lamar Thomas, who played for the Hurricanes from 1988 to 1992 and was inducted into the school's athletic Hall of Fame last year.
STAT MOST LIKELY TO CHANGE FROM LAST MEETING: Miami rushed 28 times for 14 yards in the Russell Athletic Bowl meeting last December, but Johnson did not play in that game. With the All-ACC performer back, as well as seven starters lost to the U of L defense, don't expect that to be the case tonight.
DON'T GIVE HIM TIME: Give Petrino time to stew over a game plan and the result is usually victory. He's 29-10 in his career when having more than one week to prepare for a game, including 9-0 in season openers. He'll have five chances to add to that record this season, starting tonight, then continuing in games Oct. 11 at Clemson (eight days after Syracuse on Oct. 3), Oct. 30 at home against Florida State (12 days), Nov. 8 at Boston College (9 days) and Nov. 22 at Notre Dame (14 days).
GRADUATES ON THE FIELD: Under Charlie Strong, U of L went from receiving an NCAA penalty for low Academic Progress Rate performance early in his tenure to being honored as one of only two programs in the nation with a perfect APR mark last season (Texas was the other). Part of that means players are earning degrees early. The following players will take the field with Bachelors Degrees already in hand before tonight's game, and have begun graduate work at U of L: TE Gerald Christian, LS Grant Donovan, WR Michaelee Harris, DB Jermaine Reve, OL Jake Smith, WR Kai DeLa Cruz, WR Matt Milton. Sixteen others, including 11 starters, will earn degrees in December.
TOUGH OPENING ACT: The last time U of L allowed an opponent to score on its opening drive of the game was in the regular-season finale in 2012 when Rutgers scored on its first play from scrimmage. No opponent scored on its first drive last season, and only one scored on its first drive of the second half.
CHANGING PLACES: Terrell Floyd, a senior native of Fort Pierce, Fla., has played in 38 career games at cornerback, including 28 starts. He had career highs with four interceptions and 47 tackles last season, and returned an interception for a touchdown on the opening play of the game in the 2013 Sugar Bowl win over Florida. Now, he's moving to strong safety where he'll start tonight against Miami. It's a move aimed at getting more experience onto the field for the U of L defense. At Miami, Dallas Crawford scored a team-best 12 touchdowns from the running back spot and led the team in carries over the final five games, but now switches sides of the field entirely. A talk with Golden convinced him that moving to safety was best for him and the team.
MORE MIAMI VERSATILITY: Watch out for Miami wideout Stanley Coley. Everywhere. The wideout/kick returner was the only player in college football to score touchdowns four different ways -- rushing, receiving, on a punt return and a kick return.
SCOUTING THE KICKERS: If the game comes down to a field goal, both teams are in good hands, or feet. Louisville junior John Wallace, a native of Elizabethtown, Ky., is 36 of 45 on field goals for his career, and made 20 of 24 last season, narrowly missing the school record of 21 FGs in a season.. He was a perfect 9-for-9 from 30-39 yards, extending his career mark to 16-for-16 at that distance. At Miami, Matt Goudis enters the season with a streak of seven consecutive field goals made – tied for sixth-longest streak in program history.
CALLING THE SIGNALS: Both teams are working with inexperience at the quarterback spot. U of L starter Will Gardner hasn't started a game in three years, though he was impressive in the spring and has shown improvement over the course of fall camp. He'll be the Cards' ninth different starting quarterback since 2002, and the third to start a season for Bobby Petrino at Louisville. The first, Stefan LeFors, went 14-for-23 with 180 yards and a touchdown in his first game at U of L. Petrino tends to be a little conservative with first-time starters. Golden couldn't be blamed for taking the same approach with his starter, true freshman Brad Kaaya. He's two days away from celebrating his 19th birthday, and will be the first true freshman to start for Miami since Jacory Harris in 2008. Kaaya threw for 3,855 yards, a school record, in his state championship senior season at Chaminade College Prep in Los Angeles.
BLACKING OUT: For the fourth time in program history, and first time since 2008, U of L will observe a "blackout" game at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Petrino brought back the black uniforms -- along with chrome black helmets -- for tonight's opener. He also coached the original "blackout" game when U of L beat West Virginia 44-34 on Nov. 2, 2006 on their way to the FedEx Orange Bowl. U of L also beat Rutgers 41-38 on Nov. 29, 2007 and lost to West Virginia 35-21 on Nov. 22, 2008 in other blackout games.
LOCATING THE COACHES: Of U of L's staff, three coaches will work the game from the press box (defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, safeties coach Greg Brown and running backs coach Kolby Smith), the rest will be on the field. Miami has the same alignment with DC Mark D'Onofrio, RB coach Tim "Ice" Harris and DB coach Paul Williams in the booth, and all others on the field. THE SCHNELLENBERGER CUP: There's not a traveling trophy between these two programs, and they're not likely to play often enough to have one, being in different ACC divisions, but there ought to be something official to allow the team's to honor their common Godfather -- coach Howard Schnellenberger. He guided the Hurricanes to their first NCAA championship and subsequent titles in 1983, after rescuing the program from the brink of extinction. He did the same for U of L, and led the Cardinals to a win in the 1991 Fiesta Bowl. U of L's football complex in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium is named after him. He will be in attendance at the game, and has been signing copies of his book, Passing the Torch, at various events around the city this weekend.
Monday, September 15 2014 2:13 PM EDT2014-09-15 18:13:14 GMT
Bobby Petrino covered a number of topics in his Monday news conference, including the death of freshman Reggie Bonnafon's father, Saturday's loss at Virginia, his team's offensive struggles, special teams difficulties and practice work ethic, and more. Eric Crawford provides a quick recap.More >>
Bobby Petrino covered a number of topics in his Monday news conference, including the death of freshman Reggie Bonnafon's father, Saturday's loss at Virginia, his team's offensive struggles, special teams difficulties and practice work ethic, and more. Eric Crawford provides a quick recap. More >>
Sunday, September 14 2014 5:41 AM EDT2014-09-14 09:41:04 GMT
Eric Crawford with (extremely) quick thoughts on UK's historic win over Florida in Gainesville.More >>
Eric Crawford with (extremely) quick thoughts on UK's overtime loss to Florida in Gainesville -- Patrick Towles and Boom Williams near-heroics, the phantom play clock non-call, and some kind words from ESPN's Paul Finebaum. More >>
Thursday, September 11 2014 12:47 AM EDT2014-09-11 04:47:00 GMT
In a weekly "Throwback Thursday" feature, Eric Crawford looks back 13 years ago today, to Sept. 11, 2001, the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C., how they affected life then, and watching the rebuilding efforts in New York through his trips there over the years.More >>
In a weekly "Throwback Thursday" feature, Eric Crawford looks back 13 years ago today, to Sept. 11, 2001, the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C., how they affected life then, and watching the rebuilding efforts in New York through his trips there over the years. More >>
Wednesday, September 10 2014 12:51 AM EDT2014-09-10 04:51:50 GMT
Eric Crawford takes a look at sports media issues, local and national. Among this week's topics, NFL ratings, the number of Tweets produced by NFL games, the move to digital viewing habits, Louisville's ranking among college football ratings leaders and a Poynter story about print journalists moving to local TV.More >>
Eric Crawford takes a look at sports media issues, local and national. Among this week's topics, NFL ratings, the number of Tweets produced by NFL games, the move to digital viewing habits, Louisville's ranking among college football ratings leaders and a Poynter story about print journalists moving to local TV. More >>