LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – As the last two weeks at the University of Louisville have proven, there are much worse things than losing a ball game.

But still. Losing to Boston College? In football? At home? That’s pushing it.

The Cardinals were 19-point favorites against a Boston College team that came in 0-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Eagles had scored 37 points total in those three losses and had not put up more than 20 points in any game this season.

But somehow, against Louisville, Steve Addazio's team looked unstoppable. They ran through the bro hug defense of Louisville coordinator Peter Sirmon like they were running skeleton drills. And it’s not even Halloween yet.

The horror story of a final: Boston College 45, Louisville 42. College football world: Shocked. Louisville fans: Booing. Bobby Petrino postgame: Subdued.

“That’s a tough loss, right there,” Petrino said.

It’s a four-alarm fire of a loss. It was a red alert loss. It was an, "it's time for basketball" kind of loss, except, well, you know. For a second straight game, the Cardinal defense, for lack of a better term, Petered out for a good stretch of the second half. After the Cards took a 21-7 lead late into the first half, they were outscored 35-7 over the next 13 minutes of game time.

It wasn’t anything fancy. Boston College just lined up and ran over the Cardinals, ran through arm-tackles, ran through gang tackles, ran through anything they wanted. In all, they rolled up 364 rushing yards and put up 555 yards of offense altogether.

Louisville’s offense almost overcame all of that. Lamar Jackson ran for 180 yards and three touchdowns. He threw for 332 yards and two more. After trailing 42-28, he rallied the Cardinals for a pair of touchdowns to tie the game. And the defense came up with a pair of big stops to get the Cardinals the ball back.

But with the clock winding down, Jaylen Smith took a Jackson pass over the middle and fumbled. BC recovered and ran the clock down, using a Colton Lichtenberg field goal to win it.

I could tell you what all these guys said, but it basically amounted to, the team can’t quit now, it’s time to stick together, etc.

“When you don’t win games, it challenges your attitude, it challenges your work ethic, it challenges your dedication, so every player on our team, all our coaches, have to be dedicated,” Petrino said.

But the very fact that anyone is talking about those things means that they’re a real possibility. And with Florida State up ahead next weekend, the prospects of pulling out of the program’s current tailspin aren’t good.

Sirmon moved from the press box to the field to coach this game, to be able to talk to his defense and hopefully instill some fire. He might want to coach the next game from an underground bunker, given the mood of the fan base at the end of this game. The boos rose as Boston College piled up 27 first downs.

“I thought he needed to come down to motive them and give them some competitiveness,” Petrino said. “On the field in practices, he’s very boisterous.”

Look, the defense is bad. The tackling is unwatchable at this point. But Louisville could have won the game anyway. When the game was on the line, the Cardinals got two decisive stops. And they generated a first-half takeaway that allowed the team to get some separation. If the offense goes ahead and scores to make it 28-7 before halftime, it’s a different game. Instead, Boston College scores in the final minute of the first half to make it 21-14.

The offense, at times this season, has failed to capitalize on chances to push out to a larger lead, and perhaps dictate what the opposing offense had to do.

Regardless, after the Eagles stormed back to take the lead late in the third quarter, Lamar Jackson threw an interception that allowed them to push the margin to 14.

Still, Louisville gained 110 more yards than it did in last year’s 52-7 win over BC. Lamar Jackson had, on the whole, an outstanding game. He passed Lenny Lyles as the school’s all-time leader in rushing touchdown and Walter Peacock as its all-time leader in rushing yards.

But in key situations, this team, as a whole, hasn’t made important plays. Sometimes it’s offense, sometimes it’s defense.

Whatever it is, the fans didn’t like it. The boos rang down in the second half on Saturday.

“Yeah that’s tough,” Petrino said. “That’s tough as a coach and an athlete. It’s something that we don’t want. We know that our fans have high expectations. But our players and coaches have high expectations too.”

At some point, it all falls back on Petrino. He has a young defensive coordinator whose group is struggling, which means he has to get involved in trying to fix things. The defense huddles on the sidelines during tough situations, and Petrino will be studying his offensive play sheet for the next series. It’s what he’s always done. But as head coach, it ultimately falls on him to shore up the defense. He said it has meant him devoting more time to the defense during the week.

“You do in some of the meetings and some of the preparations for it,” Petrino said. “But it’s really hard to do in practice because you’ve got to move the ball, you’ve got to go score points. But we all have to do a better job.”

Yes, they do.

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