Vaught's Views: Leffews see Miami as an opportunity for UofL

October 13, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

A month before the football season started, Boyle County brothers Travis and Bobby Leffew were trying not to look ahead to Louisville’s showdown with Miami.

Both knew if their Louisville Cardinals were undefeated going into the game at Miami, they could have a legitimate chance to earn a spot in the Bowl Championship Series if it could beat the Hurricanes.

"If we go into Miami unbeaten, we probably still won't have a lot of national respect," Travis Leffew said in August. "But if we go unbeaten and then go to Miami and win, people won't have any choice but to respect us."

"I'm sure not many people will think we can beat them," Bobby Leffew said. "But it was the same way a couple of years ago when we beat Florida State. I just hope we can be unbeaten going into the game and see what happens."


Guess what? Louisville is unbeaten going into Thursday's ESPN game against Miami, and while the Cardinals are not favored to win, it could happen just as it did when Louisville stunned Florida State in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

There's no way Miami is going to be overly excited about playing Louisville. The Hurricanes are used to being national championship contenders. They are No. 3 in this week's ratings and certainly will see Thursday's game as just another step toward a national championship game in January. Miami is also used to national TV games.

Louisville has everything to gain and nothing to lose. The Cardinals are 4-0 but rated only No. 18 because their schedule - Kentucky, Army, North Carolina and East Carolina - ranks among the worst in the country. No college football analyst expects Louisville to win, giving the Cardinals all the motivation they need for this game.

Miami has had an unusual schedule and no set routine this year. The Hurricanes played just one Saturday game in September and had a nine-day layoff before the current 12-day layoff for this game. The opening game against Florida State was delayed four days because of Hurricane Frances, still another practice disruption.

If the Cardinals need more hope, Miami struggled twice last year after a bye week. The Hurricanes beat West Virginia only 22-20 after a 12-day break and then lost 31-7 to Virginia Tech after a two-week break.

Of course, the Cardinals also had last week off. However, this game means so much to coach Bobby Petrino's team that the bye week should help the Cardinals. It gave players time to let minor injuries heal and the coaches time to devise some new wrinkles for Miami.

Both teams are solid defensively. Miami is allowing just 6.5 points per game and Louisville 7.0, both among the national leaders. The difference is that Miami has played a much better schedule.

Offensively, Louisville may actually have the edge at quarterback. Miami's Brock Berlin was the more highly touted high school player, but Louisville's Stefan LeFors has been the far more productive college player. Louisville's versatile running game could also give the Hurricanes a lot more trouble than some imagine.

"I'm telling you right now, Louisville is for real," Kentucky defensive coordinator Mike Archer said. "We did not play well against Louisville, but their offense had a lot to do with that. They are as good offensively as almost anybody. They can run. They can throw. They are big and physical. They are fast. Stopping Louisville is not going to be easy for Miami, or anybody else."

So will Louisville win? Probably not, but if the Cardinals can avoid costly turnovers and stay in the game until halftime, they could well make this game a lot better, and closer, than many expect.

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