1993: A Look Back

1993: A Look Back

For the second time in the 1990's, but only the fourth time in the program's history, the Cardinals went undefeated at their Cardinal Stadium home at the Kentucky State Fairgrounds.

1993 was a season of accomplishments for the Louisville football program. For the second time in the 1990's, but only the fourth time in the program's history, the Cardinals went undefeated at their Cardinal Stadium home at the Kentucky State Fairgrounds. Louisville leaped a few more hurdles in its quest to become a presence on the national football scene by defeating traditional football programs Arizona State and Texas.

The Cardinals opened the season by defeating San Jose State at home 31-24. Ralph Dawkins scored three touchdowns in one game for the first time in his career, and quarterback Jeff Brohm threw for 307 yards. Louisville led 28-3 at halftime and held off a late Spartan rally when reserve linebacker Marcus Hill intercepted a late forth-quarter pass to seal the victory.

Louisville made the trip to rival Memphis State on the second weekend in September and scored more points than ever before in the history of the series that began in 1948. The Cardinals 54-28 win in the Liberty Bowl made an early impression for Liberty Bowl officials. Wide receiver Aaron Bailey highlighted the game by accounting for 242 all-purpose yards, including a 67-yard punt return for a touchdown. Anthony Shelman ran for a then career-high 124 yards and two scores.

23rd-ranked Arizona State visited Cardinal Stadium on September 18th and ran into an inspired Louisville football team. The Cardinal defense dominated the entire game, led by defensive end Joe Johnson and cornerback Anthony Bridges. Johnson had four sacks on the afternoon, while Bridges intercepted a pass at the Louisville 21-yard line and returned it 79-yards for a game-clinching touchdown. Arizona State left Louisville with a 35-17 loss and falling from the Top 25 rankings.

The Cardinals, 3-0 and nationally ranked, hosted Texas the following weekend.

On the second play of the game, it was evident that the Longhorns didn't belong on the same field as the Cardinals. Ralph Dawkins caught a Jeff Brohm screen pass and ran 80-yards to give the Cardinals a quick 7-0 lead. Bevo, the Texas mascot, was laying down in apparent agony early in the third quarter as he watched Louisville pull away. Louisville dominated Texas 41-10 and continued its climb in the national polls.

The 18th-ranked Cardinals visited Pittsburgh on the first weekend in October. At the half, Louisville trailed Pittsburgh 7-6, but the talk, or lack of, in the locker room seemed to ignite the Louisville offense. The Cardinals exploded for 23 second half points to record it's fifth victory of the season 29-7.

A trip to Morgantown, WV the next weekend brought one of the best games of the 1993 college football season and left Louisville fans thinking, 'what if.' Louisville led the 13th-ranked Mountaineer's 34-33 early in the 4th-quarter, but then suffered four turnovers and lost 36-34. West Virginia finished the season 11-0, ranked 6th and received an invitation to the Sugar Bowl.

Back home, Louisville appeared to be on the verge of suffering its second loss of the season to Southern Miss when it went into the locker room at halftime trailing 24-6. Head coach Howard Schnellenberger worked magic with his defense in the second half as Southern Miss only gained 60-yards in the final 30 minutes. The Cardinals offense took over and finished the game with more than 500-yards of offense, led by Jeff Brohm, who threw for over 300-yards and 3 touchdowns. The Cardinals returned to their winning ways with a 35-27 win.

The following weekend, Louisville coasted to its 7th win over visiting Navy. The 28-0 victory was the first Division 1-A shutout for the program in 13 years.

Louisville had the following Saturday off, but still had plenty to celebrate. The Cardinals climbed to 13th in the polls, giving the school its highest ranking ever. The off week also brought a bowl invitation to the Liberty Bowl, making the Cardinals the first team to earn and accept an invite in 1993.

Having a bowl game secured may have caused the team to have a let-down for the remainder of the season, but it was the wrong time to have one. Louisville played at Tennessee and at Texas A & M the next two weeks, falling in both contests. Tennessee finished the season ranked 11th and playing in the Citurs Bowl, while Texas A & M finished 8th in the polls and played Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl.

Louisville finished its regular season with its third-straight road trip, this one to Tulsa. With the temperature below freezing and Jeff Brohm suffering a first-quarter injury the team struggled to a 6-0 first half lead. The defense again dominated, stopping Tulsa twice inside the Louisville 10-yard line. The Cardinals recorded its second shutout of the season, 28-0, to close out the season with an 8-3 record.

On December 28th, Louisville faced Michigan State in the 35th Liberty Bowl. Nearly 12,000 Louisville fans braved the ice and snow storms to support the team in Memphis.

The Spartans opened the game strong, using its seemingly overpowering running attack to score on its first possession and take a 7-0 lead. The Louisville defense then took control not allowing another score in the first half, however Michigan State took a 7-3 lead into the locker rooms.

The scored remained unchanged until Jeff Brohm, playing with two steel pins and one steel plate in the index finger of his passing hand, connected with receiver Reggie Ferguson for a 25-yard touchdown strike, pushing the Cardinals ahead 10-7. On their next possession, the Cards seemed ready to take control of the game, but were stopped on downs by the Spartans defense inside the Michigan State 5-yard line. The Spartans defensive stand was a blessing in disguise for the Cardinals as defensive end Joe Johnson and linebacker Tyrus McCloud teamed up to record a safety and give their team a 12-7 lead and the ball midway through the 4th quarter. The offense took advantage of the opportunity and scored on the possession giving Louisville an 18-7 victory.

Jeff Brohm was named MVP of the game.

Louisville finished the season ranked 23rd in the Coaches Poll and 24th in AP.

LIBERTY BOWL GAME SUMMARY

                         MSU     UofL
First Downs               18      20
Rushing Yards            114     172
Passing              28-15-1 31-19-0
Passing Yards            193     197
Total Offense            307     369
Punts                      5       5
Punt Average            29.0    36.2
Penalties-Yards         5-60    6-45
Fumbles-Lost             0-0     1-0

                  1   2   3   4      Final
Michigan State    7   0   0   0   -    7
Louisville        3   0   0  15   -   18

Scoring
Michigan State:  Goulbourne 1-yard run (kick good)
Louisville:  Akers 31-yard field goal
Louisville:  Ferguson 25-yard pass from Brohm (kick good)
Louisville:  Safety
Louisville:  Dawkins 11-yard run (PAT failed)

Rushing
Louisville:
Dawkins 14-88  6.29 avg  1 TD
Shelman 17-59  3.47 avg
Brohm    9-25  2.78 avg

Michigan State:
Goulbourne 19-63  3.32 avg.  1 TD
Thomas     10-57  5.70 avg.
Holman      1-1   1.00 avg.
Miller    1-(-7) -7.00 avg.

Passing
Louisville:
Brohm  29-19-0  197 yds.  1 TD
Lowe    2-0-0     0 yds.

Michigan State:
Miller 28-15-1  193 yds.

Receiving
Louisville:
Dawkins     8-68   8.50 avg.
Ferguson    3-68  22.67 avg.  1 TD
Asher       4-15   3.75 avg.
Fitzpatrick 2-17   8.50 avg.
Bailey      1-16  16.00 avg.
Cooper      1-13  13.00 avg.

Michigan State:
Coleman     6-100 16.67 avg.
Greene      4-49  12.25 avg.
Goulbourne  3-11   3.67 avg.
Outlaw      1-18  18.00 avg.
Abrams      1-15  15.00 avg.

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