8:00 PM ET, September 3, 2006
Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, LOUISVILLE, KY
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Michael Bush sat up on the stretcher and waved to the Papa John's Stadium crowd.
He didn't anticipate having to say goodbye so soon.
The Louisville running back broke his right leg in the third quarter of the 13th-ranked Cardinals' 59-28 victory over Kentucky on Sunday night and will be out for the season.
"It was devastating to lose a player like him," said Louisville coach Bobby Petrino. "It hurts a lot because of what Michael has done for this program."
Bush had already run for 124 yards and three touchdowns in the first half when he took the pitch from quarterback Brian Brohm on Louisville's second play of the second half. His right leg was pinned awkwardly underneath him while being tackled by Kentucky's Wesley Woodyard.
"I didn't even realize he was hurt," Woodyard said. "I didn't hear anything. I just heard the crowd and I heard a big pop."
Bush lay on the ground for several minutes before being placed on a stretcher and taken to a local hospital. He will undergo surgery on Monday. He finished with 128 yards on 17 carries.
"Losing a guy like Michael Bush, he's irreplaceable," Brohm said. "You can't replace him with one guy."
The injury quickly ended what had been a giddy night for the Cardinals.
Brohm, playing his first game since suffering a devastating knee injury last November, threw for 254 yards and a touchdown, showing no ill effects from nine months of grueling rehab.
Brohm completed his first pass and more importantly, survived his first hit, bouncing up quickly after getting drilled by Kentucky's Myron Pryor on Louisville's second drive.
He seemed comfortable in all phases, moving around nimbly when required and standing up in the pocket during the few occasions the Wildcats were able to generate pressure.
"I felt comfortable and I didn't even think about it," Brohm said. "It really helped that I had a lot of protection and didn't get hit very much. I really came away barely touched."
With Brohm's arm and Bush's legs leading the way, the Cardinals scored on five of their first six possessions, grabbing a 31-0 lead before the Wildcats could manage their second first down.
"They were hitting us before we hit them and we knew the snap counts," said Kentucky coach Rich Brooks. "I expected us fully to be better up front. They manhandled us up front."
Despite a pair of long touchdown passes by Kentucky's AndrDe Woodson, the Cardinals were still firmly in control when they took over at their own 16 on their first possession of the second half.
Two plays later, one of their best players lay on his back in agony.
Though reserves George Stripling (nine carries, 90 yards, two touchdowns) and Kolby Smith (12 carries, 66 yards) filled in ably for Bush, much of Louisville's hopes for its first Big East title were on Bush's broad shoulders.
He led the nation in scoring last season, averaging 14.4 points per game while scoring a school-record 23 rushing touchdowns. He considered turning pro after the season, but the Louisville native decided to return for his senior year to help the Cardinals make their first appearance in a Bowl Championship Series while hopefully lifting his draft stock at the same time.
With a favorable schedule that includes home games against No. 11 Miami and No. 7 West Virginia, the Cardinals are still in position to have a big season. Now they'll have to do it without Bush, who will have the opportunity to be redshirted and return for another season if he chooses.
Petrino said it will be up to Bush and his family to decide whether to apply for a redshirt.
Bush's injury cast a shadow over Louisville's fourth straight win over its in-state rival. The offense rolled up 631 total yards, doing whatever it wanted whenever it wanted. Louisville's 59 points was its highest output in series history, and the 13th time under Petrino that they've eclipsed 50 points in a game.
"We just never really matched their tempo and they took advantage of us," Woodyard said.
Kentucky wide receiver Keenan Burton -- a lifelong friend of Bush's who consoled him as he left the field -- tried to keep the Wildcats competitive. He caught four passes for 127 yards and a touchdown and also scored on a 100-yard kickoff return.
But the Wildcats ultimately had no answer for the Cardinals, with or without Bush.
Now it will be up to Stripling and Smith to help the Cardinals move on.
"I knew when [Bush] went down that me and Kolby would have to step it up," Smith said. "We had to step it up and go get it for him."
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Kentucky's defense took the field. The Wildcats surrendered 59 points and over 600 yards of total offense to the Cardinals.
Gameball goes to... Louisville's offense. The balanced Cards ran for over 300 yards, passed for over 250 and rolled to 31 first downs.
Stat of the game... 1: Heisman candidate Michael Bush suffered a broken leg and will miss the remainder of the Cardinals' season.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||2-12||8-15|
|4th Down Conversions||0-1||1-1|
|TD||13:26||MICHAEL BUSH 48 YD RUN (ARTHUR CARMODY KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||3:36||MICHAEL BUSH 4 YD RUN (ARTHUR CARMODY KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 70 yards.
|TD||14:13||BROCK BOLEN 1 YD PASS FROM BRIAN BROHM (ARTHUR CARMODY KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 55 yards.
|TD||10:57||MICHAEL BUSH 5 YD RUN (ARTHUR CARMODY KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 60 yards.
|FG||4:13||ARTHUR CARMODY 38 YD FG|
Drive info: 13 plays, 50 yards.
|TD||3:03||KEENAN BURTON 73 YD PASS FROM ANDRE' WOODSON (J.J. HOUSLEY KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||0:21||DICKY LYONS JR. 4 YD PASS FROM ANDRE' WOODSON (J.J. HOUSLEY KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 76 yards.
|TD||6:04||GEORGE STRIPLING 1 YD RUN (ARTHUR CARMODY KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 53 yards.
|TD||5:31||DICKY LYONS JR. 80 YD PASS FROM ANDRE' WOODSON (J.J. HOUSLEY KICK)|
Drive info: 1 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||3:35||GEORGE STRIPLING 38 YD RUN (ARTHUR CARMODY KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 84 yards.
|TD||8:30||ZACH ANDERSON 0 YD DEFENSIVE FUMBLE RETURN (ARTHUR CARMODY KICK)||21||52|
|TD||8:11||KEENAN BURTON 100 YD KICK RETURN (J.J. HOUSLEY KICK)||28||52|
|TD||3:52||ANTHONY ALLEN 4 YD RUN (ARTHUR CARMODY KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 66 yards.