“A win is a win.” When the win takes the team out of the running for the national championship, how true does that statement feel?
Thursday night, Louisville beat Rutgers. The low-key rivalry paired well with Rutgers being one of the few opponents on the Cardinals schedule that could really help Louisville’s argument of being the best, or at least deserving the chance to prove it.
The game did not wind up being a point proven for the home team. It was not the dazzle that the nation needed to be swayed. It was a tennis match of turnovers, which, on the defensive end, was the impressive note of the night for Louisville. Four interceptions and eight sacks later, no one was debating who the players of the game were.
The unimpressive notes stuck out because they all resided within the offense – which had, up to this point, executed almost to perfection. We saw an offensive line that could not stay consistent. The difference between the blocking on passing plays and the blocking on rushing plays felt like a movie where the main character had multiple personalities. When Teddy Bridgewater dropped back to throw, he had time. In fact, the entirety of the first quarter was a joy to watch. But then it ended, and the O-line fell short on the run plays, regardless of how adamant Coach Watson was on running them, again, and again, and again. Then there was Bridgewater, Heisman hopeful and Louisville sweetheart, having what is prescribed by experts as an “off-game,” proving that he is, contrary to popular belief, human. He threw off-target more than he had all year, often airmailing his receivers. Add all of that to a Rutgers team that did not care what the spread was.
Still, Louisville won.
The win cannot be used alongside any of the other debates; it simply was not a convincing win, even at 24-10. There is the “slightly” overused Sugar Bowl argument; there are Bridgewater’s numbers alone; there is the expression “an off-game,” but the Cardinals are out of the big dog talk, which was always kind of a whisper, anyways.