In Miami, Cards have clear path to title game: win and they’re in

By RUSS BROWN, Kentucky Today Nov 12, 2023

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) – For awhile Saturday night it looked as if Louisville’s football team might be able to clinch a spot in the ACC Championship game, thanks to events unfolding 540 miles away.

The Cardinals were rooting for Duke to upset No. 24 North Carolina, which would have put U of L (10-1, 6-1) into the title contest against No. 4 Florida State (10-0,8-0). And the Blue Devils (6-4, 4-3) came tantalizingly close to providing that favor, but the Tar Heels (8-2. 4-2) pulled out a 47-45 win in two overtimes in Chapel Hill, N.C. to keep their own hopes alive.

UNC scored first in the second overtime on quarterback Drake Maye’s 5-yard touchdown run, and Maye added a 2-point conversion pass for a 47-39 lead. Duke then scored a TD on its first play, but its 2-point try failed.

So now there are no ambiguities for No. 9 Louisville. The picture is clear: Beat Miami Saturday in a noon kickoff in Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., and the Cards will have punched their ticket for a showdown with the Seminoles in Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. at 8 p.m. on Dec. 2.

Cards coach Jeff Brohm has emphasized his theme each week of a one-game season, and it has never been more true than this time. The Cards are expected to be a slight favorite, even though Miami is 5-1 at home with its only setback coming against Georgia Tech, 23-20, on Oct. 7. But the Canes have quarterback concerns.

True freshman starter Emory Williams left the 27-20 loss to FSU Saturday late in the fourth quarter with what coach Mario Cristobal called a “significant” arm injury after completing 8-of-23 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns. He was replaced by fourth-year junior Tyler Van Dyke, who threw an interception that enabled the Noles to seal the win.

Van Dyke was one of the nation’s top-rated quarterbacks in early October. But since then he has struggled, throwing 10 interceptions in his previous four games before Saturday, leading to a decision to start Williams.

“He has a super-bright future,” Cristobal said of Williams. “And the truth of the matter is I think Tyler Van Dyke has a super bright future. There was a rought patch there and we made a decision, but I think everybody jumps to conclusions too quickly. Tyler is an awesome young man. It was a very tough decision and he handled it extremely well.”

Louisville should rise a notch two in the College Football Playoff (CFP) Tuesday night in light of losses Saturday by No. 9 Ole Miss and No. 10 Penn State. The Cards moved up two notches to No. 9 in the Coaches poll.

Should U of L lose to Miami, it would still have a good chance of getting to the championship game without going through a complicated tiebreaker with North Carolina because the Heels have a tough closing stretch doubleheader. They have to play both improving Clemson (6-4, 3-4) and rival NC State (7-3, 4-2) on the road. The Tigers are 5-1 in Death Valley, with the only loss to FSU 31-24 in overtime, while the Wolfpack is 4-2 at home.

Brohm will preview the Miami game at his weekly press conference Monday. After the 31-24 come-from-behind win over Virginia Thursday, he praised his players for their ability adapt to various circumstances and find ways to prevail.

“I would be sitting here not in the great position we are, but we found a way to win,” Brohm said. “Hats off to our coaches and our players because they have done enough to win games. You go back, circle the wagons, figure out how to get better and correct things. We have done that every week. We aren’t bashful about identifying the mistakes we make and how we can get better. So we will do it again. We finish the season with two really tough opponents that we are going to have to be more efficient and play better in order to win.”