January 02, 2007

The 11th option in Miami tonight....

Perception vs. Reality

Okay blog readers (Brian, Scott), I didn't get the kickoff because I am like so many others across the country who are still catching their breath after last night's Fiesta Bowl (Read: I took an after dinner nap tonight). However, this Orange Bowl might not hold all our attentions, if you believe the pundits. While Louisville is certainly the "Ferrari" in this matchup, Wake has seen athleticism this year in Florida State and Clemson. Let's hope the reality of being a conference champion will help boost Wake's perception amongst the media circus.

9:04 PM - The first quarter ends and in the 12 plays I have seen, Wake Forest's quarterback has been put on the turf for three of them. Beforehand, I had the FOX guys saying Wake needed to hold Louisville to a three point field goal when the Cardinals had the ball at the Wake 41 (!). Louisville is explosive yes, but Wake does play defense. Tied 0-0.

9:09 PM - Sam Swank provides a lift for the Deacons who capitalize on Louisville's poor punt to give Wake Forest a 3-0 lead. FOX guys want to sell tickets, saying were still in for some scoring, harkening back to the 2000 Michigan-Alabama Orange Bowl tilt. Let's just sit back and see, gang.

9:11 PM - Basketball being talked about by the booth gang. I am sure both schools love that.

9:17 PM - We're gonna review a fine catch by Mario Urrutia, but the Cardinals keep converting on third down. This says good and bad for Wake. The good is that they are forcing third downs, shortening the game, the bad is that they aren't stopping the third downs. I get the feeling that its a matter of time before Louisville scores and gets this game by the throat.

9:21 PM - Gutsy move by Petrino going for it on 4th and 9. Wow.

9:24 PM - Fourth and nine again finds Louisville kicking and putting it through by the leg of Arthur Carmody. The game is tied at 3-3. FOX guys are on top of it tonight. Louisville will come next with a mostly pass drive to push the Deacons to the limit. Wake needs to take this possession and re-take the lead. The pace of this game looks to be a midnight or earlier finish.

9:32 PM - What is Wake Forest's game plan on offense? Yeah, they keep the clock running but there is no one thing that Wake does well. I saw Wake in action three times this year in both games they lost, and a thrashing of Florida State. I still can't tell you their bread and butter.

9:36 PM - Trickeration is the buzz word of the bowl season and the Cardinals get on board with a 21-yard pass from WR Patrick Carter to RB Anthony Allen. 10-3 Cardinals.

9:41 PM - Another Louisville sack forces third and long, but Wake converts, holding off my march back to the bedroom for more sleep time. The Cardinals give up another pass play and seem to be going into prevent the win mode. Interesting.

9:44 PM - Its a bang-bang play, and in my opinion the Deacons should hold onto the ball. However, control of the ball when the knee hits is the central issue and its razor thin close on the second-look.

9:48 PM - The longer they kept looking spelled better for Louisville. The Deacons have to absolutely get to the locker room at no worse than the current score.

9:56 PM - The Deacons hold and have their second close miss at a Louisville punt attempt. The result is good field position that the Deacons drive down and get a field goal attempt. Swank pushes it wide left. The Deacons do keep the Cardinals within range, but in their last two possessions in Card territory, the Deacs come away with a fumble and missed field goal. Halftime. Louisville 10, Wake Forest 3.

10:25 PM - Wake comes off the edge on a blitz and stuffs the Cards first drive, setting up good field position for the Deacons. Sidenote: If Wake doesn't block a punt in this game then it should be viewed as a disappointment. Three straight times a Wake defender has a shot at the block only to grab air.

10:30 PM - Riley Skinner gets time to throw and the Deacons tie the game at 10-10. The Wake Forest defense is absolutely bringing it. If the offense can keep protecting at this level, Wake will be tough to beat.

10:40 PM - Fumblaya! The play is under review and it looked much like the other one that remained Louisville's ball. The play stands, Petrino goes ape and we have a game folks.

10:44 PM - William Gay with a nice deflection on third down will force the Wake punt. Trickeration attempted earlier on second down failed, but the Deacs pin Louisville back again, this time at the 9-yard line.

10:49 PM - The underdog keeps believing and Louisville keeps running into the middle of the line, which has not worked. Unfortunately, the Deacs wont have the best field position as they're whistled for a block in the back on the punt.

10:54 PM - You get a great run and come back with trickeration that goes nowhere. You have the momentum, Deacs, use it!

10:56 PM - Fumblaya! But, lets check the replay... three-for-three on the confirmations for the refs. Good job, chain gang.

11:04 PM - Momentum changer as Louisville goes up top immediately after the fumble. The Cards flip the field with a 50-yard completion from Brohm to Douglas. Wake stiffens and forces a missed field goal! Momentum stays with Wake. Now the Deacons just need to drive and hang onto the football.

11:07 PM - The fourth quarter begins and Wake has momentum and is gutting the Louisville defense with long runs. The Deacs are knocking on the door, but it needs to be six points, Wake fans. Three won't do. Wake Forest 10, Louisville 10.

11:12 PM - Three will have to do for now as Swank nails a 36-yarder. Wake Forest 13, Louisville 10. The Deacs own all momentum in this game, as well as their line taking control. The defense needs to keep bringing it. In some ways, only having the 3-point lead might be a blessing as they won't be able to play "prevent the win" defense if the score holds later in the quarter.

11:19 PM - The Cardinals refocus in a hurry, taking back momentum and owning the Deacons with touchdown march. Louisville 17, Wake Forest 13. The Card defense could fully seize momentum and get back to pressuring Skinner. Wake, at least, needs to drive and pin Louisville deep if they do not score.

11:26 PM - The Louisville defense does their job, getting a three-and-out from Wake. The onus now goes back to the Wake defense to make the stop and keep the game within reach. Petrino will stay aggressive on his playcalling, so Wake needs to match the intensity.

11:35 PM - The Wake defender gives up the first down by not attacking the receiver, and now Wake must hold Louisville to a field goal.

11:39 PM - No miracle coming in Miami tonight as Louisville seals the deal with a four minute drive, capped by a Brock Bolen touchdown. Louisville 24, Wake Forest 13. I will keep watching but its mainly schadenfreude. Wake continues the meltdown with a 15-yard personal foul to be assessed on the kick.

11:45 PM - Outside of an outright stop, Louisville's job is to make Wake burn a ton of time going down the field. Right as I type that, the Deacons get a long pass out to midfield and get out of bounds.

11:49 PM - William Gay, the Cardinals defensive MVP of this game, ends it with an INT. The rest is just winding down the clock.

12:00 AM - The game ends with Louisville getting a solid win that will only elevate their hopes in the pundits' 2007 preseason polls. The perception coming into this game was that Louisville's speedy offense would dominate. While impressive, the reality is that the Cardinals have a solid defense that is a consistent pass rusher away from being very good. The book on Wake was that they were happy to be here after a cinderella run. The truth is that the Deacons return a lot for 2007 and could end up in the same bowl next year. This is a solid team with speed and guts on defense and a developing offense. People called for the blowout, but this was close until midway through the fourth quarter. Louisville 24, Wake Forest 13. Final.

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Heavenly time period: College football season until the championship game of March Madness.