Following a disappointing 0-2 start in Big East Conference play, the University of Louisville turned to a long-time rival to secure it's first win in the refurbished league.
"It feels good to get our first Big East victory," said a smiling U of L head coach Bobby Petrino shortly after the Cardinals 46-22 win at Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium. "It was a good game for us, but it wasn't easy. We didn't execute on all cylinders, but our players certainly played with great effort and really stuck together."
While the Cardinals may have not executed perfectly, they did put together their finest road performance of the season, posting 547 total yards of offense, while the defense recorded 11 tackles for a loss, five sacks and two turnovers.
Louisville's offense continued with it's balanced attack as sophomore quaterback Brian Brohm threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns, while running backs Michael Bush and George Stripling combined for 244 yards on the ground.
"Brian threw the ball real well today," said Petrino of Brohm, who completed nearly 81% of his pass attempts. "He was very accurate today. I thought he did his best job of reading and giving what the defense gave him."
While Stripling has been used in just a limited role prior to today's outing, the redshirt freshman took advantage of his opportunity on Saturday, rushing for 117 yards and two scores.
"He did a real nice job running the ball," Petrino said of the redshirt freshman George Stripling who posted his first 100 yard performance of his career. "He gives us a little bit of a different look and different speed."
With Louisville holding a narrow 12-7 lead midway through the second quarter, the Cardinal defense faced a Bearcat offense that had a first and goal situation from the 2-yard line. Nate Harris and Chad Rimpsey made back-to-back tackles for a loss, setting up a 3rd and goal from the nine, when free safety Brandon Sharp intercepted Dustin Grutza's pass in the end zone.
"I think it had a pretty big impact," Petrino said of the play. "That was a big change of events."
Louisville's offense, which took possession of the ball at it's own 2-yard line, drove 98 yards, highlighted by a 29-yard pass to Montrell Jones and a 43-yard pass to Harry Douglas.
"I didn't want to just sit on it," explained Petrino. "I wanted to try to get a touchdown. We did a good job on the first play getting it out past the five yard line and then Montrell and Harry came up with some big plays."
Six different receivers hauled in catches against the Bearcats, led by Jones' 6 for 73 yards. Harry Douglas added 5 catches for 87 yards, while tight end Gary Barnidge pulled in 4 for 54 yards.
Linebacker Nate Harris led all Cardinal defenders with 11 tackles, while first-time starter Jon Russell totaled nine.
Senior defensive end continued with his record-setting pace. The Miami native recorded his eighth forced fumble of the season, tying the NCAA record. His two and half sacks on Saturday upped his season total to 19 and established new Big East and U of L single season records.
Louisville will have next weekend off before hosting Pittsburgh on Thursday, November 3rd at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.