Sep 17, 2021; Louisville, Kentucky, USA;  Louisville Cardinals quarterback Malik Cunningham (3) celebrates a touchdown with tight end Dez Melton (84) during the second half against the UCF Knights at Cardinal Stadium. Louisville defeated Central Florida 42-35. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Florida State hopes to avoid worst start in 47 years vs. Louisville

Florida State will be hoping to avoid its worst start in nearly five decades while Louisville seeks to continue the momentum it has built over the last 10 quarters when the two clash Saturday afternoon in Tallahassee.

The last time the Seminoles (0-3, 0-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) lost their first four games of the season was in 1974 when it dropped their first eight outings of the season.

The Noles’ 35-14 loss at Wake Forest last week saddled them with their first 0-3 start since 1976, Bobby Bowden’s first year at the helm.

Coach Mike Norvell said his team is learning some “hard lessons” in his second season but is confident better things are ahead.

“I’ve got confidence in where this team is going,” he said this week. “I’m not talking about years from now. I’m talking about right now, this opportunity, this week.”

The Cardinals (2-1, 0-0) got off to a rough start in their opener, falling behind 26-0 in the first half of their 43-24 loss to Ole Miss. But they rolled past Eastern Kentucky 30-3 just five days later and defeated UCF 42-35 last Friday on freshman linebacker Jaylin Alderman’s 66-yard interception return for a touchdown with just 13 seconds remaining.

“The one thing as a coach you want to be able to see your team continue to improve each week and we’ve done that,” Cardinals coach Scott Satterfield said. “We did not play well at all, obviously, the first half against Ole Miss, but played a lot better in the second half, did some better things against EKU, and then I thought we did even better against Central Florida.”

Satterfield said the training room was filled with banged-up players after the win over UCF, but he expects all to be ready. That includes quarterback Malik Cunningham, who was limping at the finish.

“It was good to have an extra day in there,” he said. “For us to have eight days before our next game, that’s a good break after playing three games in 12 days.”

–Field Level Media

UofL quarterback Malik Cunningham is sacked during the first half Friday evening as the Louisville Cardinals took on the University of Central Florida at Cardinal Stadium. The Cardinals led 21-14 at halftime. Sept. 17, 2021

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Louisville stuns UCF with late game-winning pick-6

Louisville’s Jaylin Alderman stunned the home crowd by returning an interception 66 yards for the game-winning score in the closing seconds Friday night, lifting the Cardinals to a 42-35 win over the UCF Knights in Louisville, Kentucky.

UCF’s Tre’mon Morris-Brash batted a pass and intercepted it inside the last minute, but on a rare blitz by Louisville, Gabriel’s pass on the next play bounced off receiver Amari Johnson and right to Alderman, who took it the distance for the win with 13 seconds left.

Playing injured most of the fourth quarter, Louisville’s Malik Cunningham was 23-of-38 for 265 yards and one touchdown. He rushed for 99 yards and two touchdowns.

Jalen Mitchell rushed for one, and Marshon Ford (career-high eight catches, 100 yards) and Trevion Cooley caught scores for the Cardinals (2-1).

UCF (2-1) saw Dillon Gabriel go 21-of-28 for 188 yards, with TD passes to Ryan O’Keefe, Jaylon Robinson and Brandon Johnson. O’Keefe also tossed a scoring pass to Gabriel.

Gabriel connected with O’Keefe for a 41-yard strike on the Knights’ second play from scrimmage at 12:22, but Cunningham tied it with a 7-yard scramble with 1:47 remaining.

However, on a fourth-down play early less than a minute into the second quarter, Gabriel tossed a pass 15 yards in the end zone to Robinson, who made a spectacular one-handed grab.

Mitchell plunged in from two yards to knot it at 14 at 9:38, and Cunningham guided the Cardinals 56 yards in six plays, flipping a 1-yard TD pass to Ford for a 21-14 halftime lead.

UCF scored on its first series of the second half with trickery, as Gabriel — after a lateral throw to O’Keefe — took a return pass from the wide receiver and scooted 20 yards at 10:59.

Cunningham’s second rushing TD was Louisville’s only score of the third, and Gabriel’s 6-yarder on a slant to Tennessee transfer Johnson made it 28-all early in the fourth.

Louisville countered UCF’s earlier trick play as receiver Braden Smith took a lateral from Cunningham and put the Cardinals back out front with a 45-yard score to Cooley with 9:15 to play.

Gabriel rushed six yards for the tying score with 1:21 remaining in regulation.

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2021; Orlando, Florida, USA; UCF Knights quarterback Dillon Gabriel (11) warms up before the game against the Bethune Cookman Wildcats at Bounce House. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

UCF aims to keep momentum rolling vs. Louisville

The Gus Malzahn era at UCF has ushered in two good weeks to start the 2021 season.

In addition to opening with a pair of wins, UCF was one of four schools approved Friday to join the Big 12 conference. The conference’s presidents and chancellors voted unanimously to accept the Orlando university, Houston, Cincinnati and BYU — perhaps as soon as 2023.

On Friday night, new head coach Malzahn and the Knights (2-0, 0-0 American) will travel to face Power 5 opponent Louisville (1-1, 0-0 ACC) in what should be a good test and a sneak preview of what lies ahead in the future.

Against Louisville — UCF’s only Power 5 regular-season foe — Malzahn’s bunch will bring a high-powered offense to the Bluegrass State that produced much like Ole Miss did against the Cardinals in the Rebels’ 43-24 kickoff classic win on Sept. 6.

Over its two victories, UCF has churned out 99 points and 1,244 yards using a balanced attack led by quarterback Dillon Gabriel that has resulted in 349.5 yards per game passing and 272.5 on the ground.

While running back Isaiah Bowser tied the school record with four rushing touchdowns, Gabriel’s 44-yard TD run in the third quarter — dashing to the left sideline then reversing field and racing in for the score down the right side — even surprised Malzahn.

“The last time I saw one of those, I was coaching Cam Newton,” quipped Malzahn of his days coaching Auburn.

After being shredded by Ole Miss for 43 points and 569 yards, Louisville responded by limiting Eastern Kentucky’s offense to 235 total yards — just 86 rushing — in a 30-3 victory that wasn’t overly dominating but was never in doubt.

The Colonels’ points were set up by a third-down, defensive pass interference by Louisville’s secondary.

“Overall, I just thought our defense played well,” said third-year coach Scott Satterfield. “We gave up the three points on the one play when they had third down and we get the PI call, and that put them in field goal range, but that’s pretty much it. So I’m proud of that.”

The two teams have split two career meetings — the more memorable one on Oct. 18, 2013, in Louisville.

In a matchup of future NFL quarterbacks, Blake Bortles tossed a short touchdown pass with 23 seconds left in the Knights’ 38-35 upset of the undefeated No. 8 Cardinals and star Teddy Bridgewater.

Louisville won the first contest 42-21 at home on Nov. 2, 1985.

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2021; Louisville, Kentucky, USA;  Louisville Cardinals wide receiver Josh Johnson (11) runs the ball past the reach of Eastern Kentucky Colonels linebacker Je'Vari Anderson (14) during the second quarter at Cardinal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville rebounds with big win over Eastern Kentucky

Malik Cunningham went 15-of-23 passing for 183 yards and a touchdown to lead Louisville to a 30-3 win over FCS opponent Eastern Kentucky in its home opener on Saturday.

Cunningham also had two touchdown runs for Louisville, which responded from a lopsided loss to Ole Miss in its season opener just five days earlier on Monday.

Jalen Mitchell ran for 90 yards on 18 carries for Louisville (1-1).

Parker McKinney went 21-of-32 passing for 129 yards and Matt Wilcox Jr. caught seven passes for 66 yards in defeat for Eastern Kentucky (1-1).

McKinney was also his team’s leading rusher, running for 44 yards on eight carries.

Louisville took a 7-0 lead with 4:27 remaining in the first quarter on a 10-yard touchdown run by Cunningham.

Louisville’s special teams then made an impact in the second quarter, as Braden Smith returned a punt 49 yards for a touchdown to give the Cardinals a 13-0 lead — the PAT failed — with 10:15 remaining in the second quarter.

Eastern Kentucky got on the scoreboard with 5:48 left in the second quarter, cutting Louisville’s lead to 13-3 on a 39-yard field goal by Patrick Nations.

Just before halftime, Louisville extended its lead to 20-3 on a 3-yard touchdown run by Cunningham with 47 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

With 5:32 left in the third quarter, Louisville extended its lead to 27-3 on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Cunningham to Justin Marshall.

Louisville then made it 30-3 with 14:56 remaining on a 28-yard field goal by James Turner.

Louisville collected 347 yards of offense (189 passing, 158 rushing) and won the turnover battle, with Eastern Kentucky committing three turnovers to none for Louisville.

Both Cunningham and McKinney were effective in spreading the ball around to multiple receivers.

Cunningham completed passes to seven different receivers, while nine different players caught passes for Eastern Kentucky.

–Field Level Media

Sep 6, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Mississippi Rebels quarterback Matt Corral (2) passes the ball against the Louisville Cardinals during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Corral’s 381-yard passing performance leads Rebels over Cardinals

Matt Corral passed for 381 yards and a touchdown and added a rushing touchdown as Ole Miss rolled past Louisville 43-24 in the season opener for both teams Monday night in Atlanta.

Corral completed 22 of 32 passes and threw his touchdown to Dontario Drummond, who finished with 9 catches for 177 yards.

Snoop Conner rushed for two touchdowns and Jerrion Early rushed for one for Ole Miss. The Rebels played without head coach Lane Kiffin, who did not attend the game after announcing Saturday that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

The Cardinals didn’t score until James Turner kicked a 38-yard field goal early in the third quarter, but Caden Costa answered with a 38-yarder of his own that gave the Rebels a 29-3 lead.

Malik Cunningham threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Braden Smith on fourth and 3 to get Louisville within 29-10 at the end of the third quarter.

Conner’s 11-yard touchdown run increased the lead to 36-10 less than a minute into the fourth quarter.

Cunningham, the Cardinals’ leading rusher with 79 yards, ran a yard for a touchdown on fourth and goal midway through the period. He completed 22 of 37 passes for 191 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Corral and Drummond teamed on a 6-yard touchdown pass and Cunningham scored on a 9-yard run to complete the scoring.

The Rebels received the opening kickoff and drove 94 yards in 11 plays. Early rushed 1 yard for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead.

Costa added a 47-yard field goal that increased the lead to 9-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Ole Miss had another long drive in the second quarter as Corral’s 6-yard touchdown run completed a 9-play, 93-yard march that produced a 16-0 lead.

Deantre Prince intercepted Cunningham, leading to Conner’s 1-yard run and 23-0 lead.

Costa’s 22-yard field goal gave the Rebels a 26-0 halftime lead.

Nov 28, 2020; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Louisville Cardinals head coach Scott Satterfield (C) gestures from the sideline during the second half of their game against the Boston College Eagles at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Despite ‘conversation,” Louisville’s Satterfield denies South Carolina interest

Scott Satterfield reiterated Saturday that he is not leaving Louisville to coach at South Carolina, although he acknowledged speaking with officials at the school.

Satterfield, who had released a statement late last month that he has not pursued or initiated interest in any other jobs, also told the Louisville Courier-Journal that he kept Louisville’s athletic director, Vince Tyra, and others at the school informed of the contact.

Tyra said in a statement issued Saturday that he was “disappointed” when Satterfield agreed to talk with South Carolina about filling the vacancy created when Will Muschamp was fired on Nov. 15.

“Scott and I spoke earlier (Saturday), and he assured me that he is moving forward as our head football coach. I feel as good about Scott’s abilities today as the day we hired him,” Tyra said.

Later Saturday, The Athletic reported that Shane Beamer, once an assistant coach at South Carolina and currently at Oklahoma, will be hired to lead the Gamecocks. He has not previously been a college head coach.

Satterfield described his contact with South Carolina officials not as a job interview but as a visit “to listen to a conversation, and that’s what it is. … I’m not trying to hide anything from anybody. I’m not that person.”

Also, because his parents live within a few hours of the South Carolina campus in Columbia, S.C., Satterfield said he felt he “owed an obligation just to listen because of where it’s at.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Satterfield said he has seen his parents just once this year.

The coach, who signed a six-year contract to coach the Cardinals in 2018, is getting paid $3.25 million per year. If he breaks the contract before Dec. 31, the school is owed a $5 million buyout. That buyout decreases to $3.5 million after Dec. 31.

Satterfield was named ACC Coach of the Year in 2019, when the Cardinals went 8-5 and capped their season with a win in the Music City Bowl. The Cardinals are 3-7 this season, with one game remaining: Dec. 12 vs. Wake Forest.

Satterfield built his resume with five seasons at Appalachian State, where he guided the Mountaineers to a 47-16 record and three bowl appearances, all wins.

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2020; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Boston College Eagles wide receiver Zay Flowers (4) stiff arms Louisville Cardinals defensive back Russ Yeast (3) during the first half at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Backup QB leads Boston College past Louisville

Backup quarterback Dennis Grosel threw for two fourth-quarter touchdowns Saturday as Boston College knocked off Louisville 34-27 in an Atlantic Coast Conference game at Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Grosel replaced Phil Jurkovec, who was 15 of 19 for 203 yards, after Jurkovec sustained a non-contact knee injury with 6:15 left in the third quarter.

Grosel found CJ Lewis for a one-handed, 11-yard scoring catch with 13:52 remaining, then zipped a 21-yard touchdown pass over the middle to Jehlani Galloway to make it 34-20 with 4:36 to go.

Grosel was 4 of 7 for 44 yards and added a 44-yard run as the Eagles (6-4, 5-4 ACC) sealed a winning season under first-year coach Jeff Hafley.

Cardinals quarterback Malik Cunningham accounted for 427 total yards, completing 19 of 31 passes for 294 yards and rushing for 133 yards on 17 attempts. He threw fourth-quarter TD passes of 4 yards to Tutu Atwell and 69 yards to Dez Fitzpatrick.

However, Cunningham was victimized with 1:42 left, throwing a tipped-ball interception to Shitta Sillah at the Louisville 47 to quash the Cardinals’ final drive.

Louisville (3-7, 2-7) needed just over 2 1/2 minutes to get on the board first as James Turner converted a 44-yard field goal. The Cardinals had to drive only 27 yards thanks to a 44-yard kickoff return by Hassan Hall.

Boston College took its first lead with 47 seconds left in the first quarter, taking advantage of an Atwell fumble that set gave the Eagles possession at the Louisville 48. David Bailey covered the last 8 yards on a run that made it 7-3.

Aaron Boumerhi booted a 23-yard field goal with 6:47 remaining in the first half to up the Eagles’ lead to 10-3, but the Cardinals equalized on Jalen Mitchell’s 2-yard touchdown run just over three minutes later. Boumerhi made a 27-yard field goal 30 seconds before intermission to make it 13-10 Boston College at halftime.

Bailey’s second scoring run, a 1-yarder, increased the Eagles’ lead to 20-10 less than 2 1/2 minutes into the third quarter. Turner answered with a 24-yard field goal six minutes later to bring Louisville within seven.

–Field Level Media

Nov 23, 2019; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals quarterback Micale Cunningham (3) looks to pass against the Syracuse Orange during the second quarter at Cardinal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville shuts down Syracuse, rolls to 30-0 rout

Malik Cunningham threw for a touchdown and ran for another to lift host Louisville to a convincing 30-0 victory over Syracuse on Friday in an Atlantic Coast Conference game.

Cunningham completed 19 of 28 passes for 219 yards with a pair of interceptions for the Cardinals (3-6, 2-6 ACC), who controlled the contest despite committing three turnovers in the first half.

Despite its miscues, Louisville finished with a pronounced edge in total yards (413-137), first downs (26-7) and time of possession (41 1/2 of the game’s 60 minutes).

The Cardinals’ Braden Smith recorded team highs in catches (seven) and receiving yards (65) and Tutu Atwell had a touchdown grab to send Syracuse (1-8, 1-7) to its sixth consecutive loss.

Freshman Jalen Mitchell rushed for a touchdown in the first game since fellow Louisville running back Javian Hawkins announced that he was opting out of the remainder of the season in preparation for the 2021 NFL Draft. Hawkins had ranked third in the ACC with 822 yards rushing.

Syracuse freshman JaCobian Morgan completed just 5 of 12 passes for 40 yards with an interception before sustaining an apparent head/neck injury in the third quarter. Morgan was hurt while being sacked by Yasir Abdullah.

James Turner converted field-goal attempts from a career-long 50 and 40 yards out to stake Louisville to an early 6-0 lead.

The Cardinals forced a turnover on the kickoff following the second field goal, with Ean Pfeifer recovering a fumble after Marlon Character stripped the ball from Nykeim Johnson. Mitchell capped a six-play, 31-yard drive by rushing up the middle from 2 yards out for his first career touchdown.

Cunningham scooted into the end zone from 4 yards out on the next possession to push Louisville’s advantage to 20-0 just before halftime. Cunningham’s rushing touchdown was his sixth of the season and the 17th of his career.

Cunningham completed an 11-play, 70-yard drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Atwell midway into the third quarter. Atwell’s touchdown reception was the 20th of his career.

Turner added a 33-yard field goal to cap the scoring in the fourth quarter.

–Field Level Media

Nov 14, 2020; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; Louisville Cardinals quarterback Malik Cunningham (3) attempts to avoid the sack by Virginia Cavaliers linebacker Nick Jackson (6) in the first quarter at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville eager to cut down on turnovers vs. Syracuse

Louisville hasn’t been shy about shooting itself in the foot this season.

The turnover-prone Cardinals (2-6, 1-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) will look to limit their miscues on Friday night when they host Syracuse (1-7, 1-6).

Louisville held a 478-368 advantage in total yards last Saturday, but three costly turnovers led to its undoing in a 31-17 loss at Virginia. The Cardinals have 18 turnovers on the season.

“That was obviously the big difference in the (Cavaliers) game when you go back and watch it, but there’s a lot of plays that were good on both sides of the ball and we have got to continue to build off of it,” Louisville coach Scott Satterfield said. “We need to take care of the football and get this turnover margin going in our favor as we finish out these last three.”

Dual-threat quarterback Malik Cunningham passed for 161 yards and rushed for a career-high 197 and two touchdowns against Virginia. Fine numbers to be certain, but his fumble inside Cavaliers territory with 8:22 left in the game dashed any hope of a rally.

Cunningham, however, isn’t giving up on the season following Louisville’s second straight loss and sixth in seven games.

“We’re definitely playing for pride,” Cunningham said. “We want to win these games out. We’ve been trying to do everything right throughout the weeks. We’ve just been coming up short.”

Cunningham came up large against the Orange last season, throwing for a career-best five touchdowns and rushing for another in Louisville’s 56-34 win.

Louisville’s Javian Hawkins rolled up 233 yards and a touchdown on the ground in that game while teammate Tutu Atwell had five receptions for 152 yards and two scores.

Hawkins and Atwell, however, were two of seven Cardinals players who did not play against Virginia. Hawkins, who ranks fourth in the ACC with 822 yards rushing, announced on Monday that he was opting out of the remainder of the season and would enter the 2021 NFL Draft.

“(Hawkins) came in this week to talk about it, and he wasn’t fully decided on what he wanted to do. I think it hit home when one of his roommates tested positive,” Satterfield said. “He has a dream that he wants to go tackle that. Obviously for us, selfishly, we’d love to have him.”

Hassan Hall is expected to return after missing three games with an undisclosed injury to join redshirt freshman Jalen Mitchell and Maurice Burkley in the Louisville backfield.

Atwell, who is also nursing an undisclosed injury, is questionable to play Friday.

“No specifics,” Satterfield said of Atwell. “Should know more this week. I think he’ll be really close to be able to come back. The negative is that it’s a short week.”

The Cardinals have fared well when they are not committing turnovers. Louisville is averaging 27.9 points per game and 440.6 total yards while surrendering just 392.1. By comparison, Syracuse is averaging 18.3, 263.8 and 464.3, respectively.

The Orange fell under those two offensive numbers while dropping their fifth straight decision in their most recent outing, a 16-13 setback to Boston College on Nov. 7.

Syracuse freshman JaCobian Morgan completed 19 of 30 passes for 188 yards with one touchdown and one interception in his first career start.

“The team needs to carry JaCobian, JaCobian is young,” Orange coach Dino Babers said. “We need to all play better to make it easier on him.”

Taj Harris reeled in seven passes for 61 yards against the Eagles. He had a team-leading six catches for 58 yards in last year’s tilt versus the Cardinals.

–Field Level Media

Sep 26, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Louisville Cardinals running back Javian Hawkins (10) runs the ball against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville RB Hawkins opts out to prep for draft

Louisville running back Javian Hawkins opted out of the rest of the season to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft.

Hawkins, a redshirt sophomore, leads the Atlantic Coast Conference with 117.4 rushing yards per game this season.

He announced the decision Monday on social media.

“My experience at Louisville has been nothing short of amazing. My teammates, coaches, professors and the entire Louisville family has prepared me for my next chapter in the NFL,” Hawkins posted on Twitter. “I will forever be grateful to everyone who has contributed to my journey at Louisville.”

Hawkins, who did not play in Saturday’s 31-17 setback at Virginia, rushed 133 times for 822 yards (6.2 average) and seven touchdowns in the Cardinals’ first seven games. He caught 16 passes for 127 yards and a score.

The 5-foot-9, 196-pound Titusville, Fla., native finished seventh in the nation with a school-record 1,525 rushing yards during the 2019 season. He earned All-ACC second team honors.

–Field Level Media