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September 24, 2005

Shocked in South Florida

Ranked No. 8 in the nation, the University of Louisville was shocked, stunned and stomped by South Florida Saturday night in Tampa, 45-14. Picked to win the Big East Conference and accept a BCS bowl bid, Louisville lost its first-ever Big East game in surprising fashion. USF jumped to a fast start, with a 21-0 lead at the beginning of the 2nd quarter, building the lead to 45-7 in the fourth quarter.

In the closing minutes, USF fans started chanting "Overrated" and singing "Goodbye" to the more than 6,000 Louisville fans who made the 15 hour trip to Tampa for the game. USF players dumped Powerade on Coach Jim Leavitt as the final buzzer sounded, and the players sprinted onto the field after the program's first win over a Top 25-ranked program.

"We knew they were a good football team," Coach Bobby Petrino said. "We knew they had played well in their previous games. We didn't play as well as we needed to, as well as we can. We didn't do the things that we had been doing, but also they did a nice job."

For Louisville, it was the most points allowed since 1999 (Army in triple overtime). The Cardinal defense, which entered the game allowing just 44 yards per game, gave up 251 yards rushing to the Bulls, who had three runners rush for more than 60 yards including wide receiver Amarri Jackson, runningback Courtney Denson and leading rusher Andre Hall.

After USF's fast start, Louisville appeared to be on the verge of a comeback after a successful touchdown drive near the end of the second quarter. Runningback Michael Bush scored the first of his two touchdowns on the game, to cut the USF lead to 21-7. Any momentum gained from that drive was negated by an unsuccessful pooch kick that was returned to the 50 yard line by Jackson. With four plays just before halftime, USF got the ball to the Louisville 32 yard line and kicked a long field goal to push the lead back to 24-7 just before the half.

The Bulls, who deferred receiving the kickoff until the second half, came out of halftime just as quickly as it started the game. Fielding the opening kickoff at the 5-yard line, USF's Chad Simpson sprinted past all the U of L defenders and into the end zone. With USF up 31-7 with 14:47 left in the third quarter, the Louisville team appeared beaten on the sidelines. A fumble on the next possession, gave USF the ball again in Cardinal territory.

"I felt like we had good energy at halftime, and that our players would come out and respond well," Petrino said. "Then they return the opening kickoff and we fumble after just two plays and we never could get back into the game."

Brohm finished the game 29-47 for 389 yards, but the Louisville offense often stalled on drives from penalties and negative plays. Louisville also had three turnovers on the game including a Brohm interception late in the game and a Michael Bush fumble in the third quarter.

U of L was flagged for 15 penalties resulting in 118 yards and Brohm was sacked four times for 33 yards. Even more surprisingly, Louisville's defense finished without a single sack of USF quarterback Pat Julmiste after defensive end Elvis Dumervil came into the game leading the nation with nine sacks in his first two games, an NCAA record.

Julmiste finished 4-9 passing for 93 yards, and USF attempted just 10 passes the entire game. The Bulls had 355 yards of total offense to U of L's 493, and the Cardinals held the edge in time of possession with nearly 34 minutes to USF's 26.


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