It was another ugly offensive performance Friday night for Louisville, but it was also another needed win for a Cardinals team that frustrated Wake Forest's quarterbacks and rallied for a 20-19 win. While the Demon Deacons were able to turn two long receptions into touchdowns and Louisville was forced to employ three quarterbacks, the Cardinals' defense once again proved to be among the better units in the country, forcing five crucial second-half takeaways to key the win.
What the win means for Louisville: The Cardinals' quest for bowl eligibility took another step forward, but it's hard to say just how good Bobby Petrino should feel about his team. The offensive line remains a mess, and aside from a few scrambles by the quarterbacks, Louisville's ground game has been virtually non-existent. Add to that 10 penalties, plus a huge sack and blocked field goal that nearly upended the Cardinals' hopes for a win in the fourth quarter, and Petrino won't spend much time celebrating before he gets to work on finding answers for next week.
What the loss means for Wake Forest: Quite possibly this loss assures the Demon Deacons of a second straight three-win season. Their three remaining games are all against ranked foes, and while Dave Clawson's crew continues to show progress, it would take a major upset in the final month of the season for that to show up in the win-loss record. More immediately, Clawson needs to get his quarterbacks playing better after John Wolford and Kendall Hinton combined for four interceptions -- including two as Wake was in scoring range -- that cost the Deacons a win.
Player of the game: Louisville receiver Jamari Staples played sparingly in the first five games of the year as he dealt with injury issues. But as the UAB transfer has become healthy and acclimated to the offense, he's proven to be a serious weapon in the passing game. He was a star Friday for the Cardinals, catching 10 passes for 133 yards -- both season highs for Louisville -- and hauling in two scores.
The game turned when: Wake coughed up the football too many times in the second half. Midway through the fourth quarter, a pass from Wolford to Cam Serigne in the red zone was tipped, hung in the air and was eventually picked off by Louisville's Trumaine Washington. Wake kept things close by blocking a field-goal try at the other end, but as Wolford and the Deacons drove deep into Louisville territory again, another throw was picked off by Shaq Wiggins, stifling yet another scoring chance in a game Wake lost by just a point. Wake's final gasp resulted in a fourth-down sack and fumble by Hinton -- just the second team this season to turn the ball over five times in the second half of a game.