CRAWFORD | Petrino on Louisville's year-end ranking: 'We didn't finish the way we wanted'
University of Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said his team's late-season performance cost it a shot at the Orange Bowl, but feels his team will be motivated to face a nationally ranked LSU team in the Citrus Bowl on New Year's Eve.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Two things are pretty evident now that the bowl bids have been extended and the College Football Playoff picks have been made:
First, even had it won its last two games, the University of Louisville football team likely wouldn’t have edged Washington for the last playoff berth. It would’ve been close. But if the committee wasn’t going to knock the Huskies out for Penn State, the likelihood of them doing it for Louisville wasn’t very good.
And second, the season-ending loss to Kentucky cost Louisville a shot at a New Year’s Six bowl — dropping the Cardinals from the Orange Bowl and a shot at Michigan to the Citrus Bowl, where they will face Louisiana State.
Speaking with reporters Sunday after the No. 13-ranked Cardinals had accepted a bid to the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Eve at 11 a.m. in Orlando, Petrino sounded philosophical about the playoff committee’s decision to rank Florida State higher (No. 11) than the Cardinals, despite their 63-20 win over the Seminoles in September.
“You know, you’ve got to play well at the end of the year,” Petrino said. “We know that we didn’t finish the way we wanted to and the way we expected to, so we just have to live with how we performed late in the season.”
Having said that, Petrino said he expects that seeing that it will face LSU, ranked No. 20 in the CFP Rankings, in the bowl game likely re-motivated his players. LSU has one of the best running-back tandems in the nation and a player many expected to be the Heisman Trophy front-runner heading into the season — running back Leonard Fournette. But Fournette has been hampered by an ankle injury all season, and when asked whether he’d play in the bowl game, LSU coach Ed Orgeron only would say, “I hope he does.”
Petrino said he’s not worried about any lingering effects of his team’s late-season letdown.
“I’m sure that today when it was announced that we were playing LSU our players were very excited about it,” Petrino said. “It’s a great trip to Orlando and a very, very good bowl game, and I know our guys will be up to the challenge. We know they’ve all watched LSU on TV. They know they’ve got two great running backs and one of the best defenses in the country, so they’ll be very motivated to play.”
The game is one of only two non-New Year’s Six bowls to pit two ranked teams against each other.
Orgeron said he knows the LSU defense will view facing Louisville Heisman candidate QB Lamar Jackson as a great challenge.
“We are so excited to be able to play a great Louisville team that has a great player in Lamar Jackson,” Orgeron said. “. . . It’s going to be a tremendous challenge. I like (LSU defensive coordinator) Dave Aranda and all of our challenges. I like our defense. I know Lamar Jackson and their offense will pose problems, but it’s something we are going to be able to do. We have a very good defense. It ought to be an exciting matchup.”
Petrino, who is 2-2 against LSU as a head coach, has never faced the the Tigers while coach at Louisville. In fact, Louisville has never faced LSU.
“They’re very talented, and they always have been,” Petrino said. “Big and fast and physical defensive linemen, and big and fast linebackers and really good cover guys in the secondary. I’ve been, I guess, fortunate enough to play them a number of times before, so we know they’re going to be big, physical and fast, so it’s going to be a great challenge for us.”
As far as going back into the Kentucky game to grade out positions or identify problems, Petrino said he hasn't dwelt much on it.
"We're not even there yet," he said. "We hit the road recruiting the day after the Kentucky game, and now we're going to get ready and really work hard on our preparation for this bowl game. Then we'll probably take a week after the season and really evaluate everything, and, you know, see where we're at, where we made improvement, where we made mistakes, and do our best to never let it happen again."
Fans immediately can order tickets through Louisville's Bowl Central, where the online seat selection option will allow you to view real-time availability and select the best seats in the Cardinals' official fan sections. Lower level tickets are available beginning at $86 each.
Bowl tickets can also be ordered through the athletic department's ticket office by calling (502) GO-CARDS or by visiting the location at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium near Gate 2 on weekdays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. ET.
By purchasing tickets from the Louisville Ticket Office, fans can secure the best available seats in the official team section as well as help U of L's candidacy for elite-level bowl selection in the future.
Fans who are unable to attend the bowl game this season can donate bowl tickets to a U of L student, active members of the military, or to an Orlando-area charitable organization.
Many Louisville fans have already secured their bowl tickets as Cardinal Athletic Fund members and season ticket holders were given an opportunity to pre-order tickets in November. All pre-order ticket reservations are assured of receiving tickets and will receive notification on their seat location from the ticket office Dec. 6-8.
Complete information on the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl will be provided on Louisville's Bowl Central page on its web site at www.GoCards.com/bowl.
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