7:00 PM ET, September 6, 2007
Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, KY
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Brian Brohm expects to score every time Louisville has the ball.
Middle Tennessee almost made sure the eighth-ranked Cardinals had to on Thursday night.
Brohm threw for a career-high 401 yards and five touchdowns and running back Anthony Allen ran for a school-record 275 yards and two scores as Louisville survived a major scare 58-42.
"We deal with adversity well," Brohm said. "I think these guys kept their heads up and on offense we said, 'Keep scoring.' That's going to be our motto all year."
If Louisville's defense can't play better than it did against the Blue Raiders, it better be.
Despite Brohm being at his efficient best, the Blue Raiders (0-2) -- who managed all of 217 yards in a season-opening loss to Florida Atlantic -- nearly matched the high-powered Cardinals in a game that featured 1,284 yards from scrimmage, 13 touchdowns and little defense from either side.
No. 8 Louisville had some challenges on Thursday night, but eventually found its groove to beat Middle Tennessee 58-42 at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. The Cards are 23-1 at home over the last four years and have outscored their opponents 1,169-to-411 in that span. Thursday's win was the Cards 20th straight at home, extending the nation's second-longest home win streak.
|School||Home win streak|
"We can't tackle the way we did tonight and be a good team," said Louisville defensive end Earl Heyman.
Still, the Cardinals (2-0) escaped because the defense managed to right itself enough in the second half to allow Louisville to extend the nation's second-longest home winning streak to 20 games.
"We made the big plays when we needed to make them," said Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe. "It's not exactly the way we wanted to play in every phase, but the bottom line is winning."
Joe Craddock threw for 290 yards and two touchdowns and Phillip Tanner added 144 yards rushing and three touchdowns for the Blue Raiders, who never backed down against a Louisville defense trying to replace seven starters.
"We are going to fight and never give up," said Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill. "We didn't spend a lot of time looking at the scoreboard."
Good thing, it might have given him whiplash.
With a showdown against archrival Kentucky looming next week, Kragthorpe placed mouse traps around the team's locker room to remind his players not to get caught looking past the Blue Raiders.
The Cardinals may have avoided the traps in the locker room, but the defense spent most of the first half stepping in them on the field.
"We weren't getting lined up quickly enough and they weren't ready to make plays," Kragthorpe said.
After Louisville opened the game with an 81-yard touchdown pass from Brohm to Barnidge on the first play from scrimmage, it took the Blue Raiders all of three plays for Craddock to hit DeMarco McNair for a 78-yard score. It was the opening salvo in a dizzying first five minutes that saw five touchdowns.
"They scored on their first play [and] it could be easy, maybe, to hang our head. But we're not going to do that," Stockstill said.
Things never really slowed down. Louisville scored on its first six possessions, but led only 38-35 at the break as the Blue Raiders baffled a Louisville defense that seemed out of position most of the time and unable to get its hands on the slippery Tanner.
Middle Tennessee kept responding so quickly that the Cardinals changed tactics, opting to grind it out behind Allen for most of the second half.
Allen, finally grabbing hold of a running back battle that's been up for grabs since training camp, responded with the best game of his career. Churning through the defense time and again, Allen appeared to grow stronger as the game wore on. His 35 carries were the most since Michael Bush ran 37 times against West Virginia in 2005.
"I thought I was a power runner," Allen said. "I run to the hole and try to run over people."
A 48-yard run in the fourth quarter set up a short touchdown pass from Brohm to Douglas, and Allen allowed the Cardinals to run out the clock after Malik Jackson picked off Craddock in the end zone with less than seven minutes to go.
While the Cardinals will head into next week's game against Kentucky undefeated, the Blue Raiders raised serious concerns about Louisville's defense. Middle Tennessee piled up 555 yards of total offense and averaged 10.1 yards per play.
"We had to fight to get the win," Allen said. "Our thing the whole week was to not fall into the trap. We didn't, and that's really all that matters."
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... The scoreboard read 0:00. Louisville won by 16, but no lead seemed safe in this game. After giving up 35 first-half points, the Cards limited MT to just 7 in the second half.
Gameball goes to... Anthony Allen. The Louisville RB ran for a school-record 275 yards and 2 TDs on 35 carries (7.9 avg.). QB Brian Brohm was a close second (25-of-39, 401 yards, 5 TDs).
Stat of the game... 1,284. The combined yardage for Middle Tennessee and Louisville, meaning defensive coordinators Manny Diaz and Mike Cassity should be very, very nervous.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||3-9||9-15|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||1-1|
|TD||14:42||Gary Barnidge 81 Yd Pass From Brian Brohm (Arthur Carmody Kick) |
Drive: 1 plays, 81 yds, :18
|TD||13:29||Demarco Mcnair 78 Yd Pass From Joe Craddock (Matt King Kick) |
Drive: 3 plays, 72 yds, 1:07
|TD||12:37||Mario Urrutia 72 Yd Pass From Brian Brohm (Arthur Carmody Kick)||7||14|
|TD||11:20||Anthony Allen 5 Yd Run (Arthur Carmody Kick)||7||21|
|TD||10:37||Phillip Tanner 23 Yd Run (Matt King Kick)||14||21|
|TD||05:47||Gary Barnidge Recovered Fumble In End Zone (Arthur Carmody Kick)||14||28|
|TD||02:22||Bobby Williams 24 Yd Pass From Joe Craddock (Matt King Kick)||21||28|
|FG||11:58||Arthur Carmody 31 Yd||21||31|
|TD||11:10||Demarco Mcnair 39 Yd Run (Matt King Kick)||28||31|
|TD||04:08||Anthony Allen 1 Yd Run (Arthur Carmody Kick)||28||38|
|TD||01:34||Phillip Tanner 1 Yd Run (Matt King Kick)||35||38|
|FG||06:19||Arthur Carmody 30 Yd||35||41|
|TD||02:51||Mario Urrutia 22 Yd Pass From Brian Brohm (Arthur Carmody Kick)||35||48|
|FG||00:28||Arthur Carmody 30 Yd||35||51|
|TD||14:46||Phillip Tanner 79 Yd Run (Matt King Kick)||42||51|
|TD||11:20||Harry Douglas 10 Yd Pass From Brian Brohm (Arthur Carmody Kick)||42||58|