BOZICH | Louisville football losing streak at 5 after ugly loss to Wake Forest
By Rick Bozich
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — This Wake Forest game had to be the Get Well Game for the University of Louisville football team, the game that stopped a Cardinals’ losing streak that had grown to four. You know all the reasons.
Against the weakest Atlantic Coast Conference opponent on the Cardinals’ schedule.
Against a Wake defense that had allowed more yards and points than any team in the ACC.
Against the last opponent with a losing record that Bobby Petrino’s team will play this season.
Louisville did not get well. Louisville got dominated -- again, giving up at least 51 points for the third time this season. You could say that Wake Forest played like it had Louisville's playbook.
The Demon Deacons gashed the Louisville defense for more points than Alabama scored against the Cardinals -- and rolled to a 56-35 victory. The Cardinal Stadium crowd was announced as 49,603. Reasonable observers can debate if half that number actually used their tickets. Credit Wake with 591 yards and start-to-finish dominance.
"Defensively we couldn't really stop them," Petrino said. "We've got a lot of work to do."
That's five straight defeats for the Cardinals for the first time in a decade -- and four of the losses have been by at least 18 points. The Cardinals do not figure to be favored in another 2018 game. If the losing streak reaches six at Clemson next weekend, that will be a first since the Ron Cooper Era.
"Losing is not fun," Petrino said. "But you have to learn something from it."
What made this one more unsettling is it came with an extra serving of karma. Wake Forest dominated Louisville with a powerful running game led by Matt Colburn, a senior halfback.
Remember that name? You should. He is the former high school star from Irmo, S.C., who thought he had a scholarship offer from Petrino and the Cardinals four years ago, and then discovered Louisville wanted him to wait at least an extra semester before enrolling.
Colburn had a better idea -- and option. He signed with Wake -- and he used his opportunity against Louisville Saturday to surge into seventh place on the Wake Forest all-time rushing list. Credit Colburn with a career-best 243 yards (on only 20 carries) and three touchdowns. That's correct. Colburn ran for more yards Saturday than any Louisville running back had for the entire season before Saturday.
"Naturally it's obviously going to heighten things for me and my situation," Colburn said. "I think after my freshman year, I wanted to get rid of the whole revenge narrative because if it wasn't for that, I wouldn't be at Wake.
"I'm just so blessed, thank God, praise God for everything. It definitely is personal. It's really just the icing on the cake to go out like this and to get our season rolling again."
"I'm glad he's had a good career," Petrino said. "It was just one of those things where you got caught up in the numbers and you had to ask somebody to redshirt."
"The big plays (hurt)," said Louisville linebacker C.J. Avery. "You can't give up really big plays and be a good defense."
That's the kind of season it has been for this 2-6 Louisville team, a team that has also been dominated by Virginia and Georgia Tech. The Cards delivered 532 yards on offense and still lost by three touchdowns. That's not easy.
The first 30 minutes were not encouraging. Wake Forest built a 35-21 lead over the Cardinals. Like Georgia Tech, the Demon Deacons scored on their first three drives -- and then added two more touchdowns, one on a 74-yard run by Colburn and another on a 23-yard sprint with a recovered fumble.
The pre-game vibe was more unsettling than encouraging. Plenty of good and even very good seats were available at Cardinal Stadium and at least one U of L player was not pleased by the turnout for the traditional Card March from the parking lot to the stadium two hours before the game.
Petrino did not learn about the Tweet until after the game. He was not amused.
"I'm sure there was frustration," Petrino said. "But he has to be smarter than that if he said something. He has to understand it's up to us to bring the crowd out here.:
The game did not start well. Louisville did roll for a touchdown on the opening possession, but Wake responded with 21 consecutive points.
A Wake offense that had averaged 5 yards per play over its six first games averaged 10.7 ypp in the first quarter. In Wake’s previous two games against Clemson and Florida State, the Demon Deacons scored 20 total points. They topped that in the first quarter against Brian VanGorder’s defense.
The Cards had a few offensive answers, generating 300 yards in the first half. Trey Smith scored a pair of touchdowns and Seth Dawkins made a difficult 19-yard TD catch against two defenders in the corner of the north end zone.
What’s next for the Cardinals?
The most demanding four-game stretch of the season — back to back trips to Clemson and Syracuse, followed by back to back home games with North Carolina State and Kentucky. All four teams have winning records.
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