Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 1/4/13
What Louisville fans saw on January 2, 2013 was almost unbelievable.No one doubted the resolve of Charlie Strong and his young team, but no one can honestly say that what we saw was an expected outcome. However, one thing is for certain – the city of Louisville and Cardinal fans nationwide are on the train and are beaming with pride. That train is chugging along while awaiting frequent stops with a known destination. The pride felt by a massive fan base after this huge win cannot be illustrated or stated in a proper way. Seeing Louisville manhandle the No. 3 Florida Gators the way they did will stick in my mind for the rest of my life. The 2013 Sugar Bowl win overshadows the regular season overtime victory over Florida State in 2002 and even the1991 Sunkist Fiesta Bowl win over Alabama. This victory defines the current state of the football program. Coach Charlie Strong, quarterback sensation Teddy Bridgewater and the rest of the football program, including athletic director Tom Jurich, are now instant icons at the University of Louisville. If they don’t already have banners on the streetlamps lining campus, they soon will. Eastern Parkway could definitely put a Tom Jurich banner to good use. And Cardinal Boulevard/Brandeis Avenue would further shine with a Teddy Bridgewater banner. Putting up Charlie Strong’s face on a lamppost along South Floyd Street would pay proper tribute to the football complex nearby. As I watched with my family, I tried to imagine what the atmosphere was like in New Orleans. I can imagine the fans inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome were filled with so much excitement and anxiety throughout the game that it was hard to contain. I can definitely see my best friend Brent and his sister Amy chanting and screaming their heads off in a tribal-like backing of our beloved team. I can also see the Gator fans with long looks on their faces, hoping their team would finally just wake up from their seemingly stunned trepidation.As the game proceeded, I became more and more confident that this unfolding effort would not be in vain. We pounced on the Gators and then we contained them. It was an almost perfectly played game.  It was certainly a perfect outcome.   The Cardinals' defense was putting constant pressure on the Gators. The offense was consistent and strong. This was a Cardinal team that I had not seen this year. They seemed bigger, better, faster, stronger, smarter.  Their actions reeked of confidence and preparation. This team, I thought, is what the future looks like at University of Louisville. This was possibly the best game I have ever seen Louisville play. I was in the stands for that rain-drenched slugfest against Florida State. I was also among the crowd for several of those high-intensity Big East matchups with West Virginia. Never before have I seen such grit and determination on the field. The ACC’s action of adding Louisville to their ranks was instantly affirmed. If there was any doubt as to the best possible addition to strengthen the football core of the conference, there should be no doubt now that Louisville was the correct choice. This Cardinal program has come full-circle since the old Cardinal Stadium days. From being counted out to being counted on, Cardinal Football has arrived. The visions of athletic director Tom Jurich and coaches Howard Schnellenberger and Charlie Strong cannot be understated. They have publicly stated that the program should rise, that the program is poised to rise. They also believe that that rising is inevitable. Charlie Strong remains at Louisville for a reason, and the fans know his intentions. Schnellenberger’s famous assertion that Cardinal Football is on a “collision course with the national championship” can be felt stronger today than at any point in history. What we saw on January 2, 2013 will be a day that will forever sit on the top shelf in the minds of Louisville fans everywhere. And this vivid, pride-evoking memory will remain the best moment for Louisville Cardinal Football – at least until that day when the Cardinals bring home a national championship.
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