Music City Bowl: Mississippi vs. West Virginia

Mel Kiper's archive: reviews, notebooks

Thursday, December 28

Attrition results in wins, not excuses

Liberty Bowl
Friday, Dec. 29 (1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Louisville (9-2) vs. Colorado St. (9-2)

In a battle of 9-2 teams, this one figures to be extremely competitive from start to finish. I was very impressed with Louisville throughout this season. John L. Smith has done a great job of maximizing the talent on hand. When super blue chipper Chris Redman moved on to the NFL, most would have expected the offensive production to drop off considerably. That wasn't the case.

6'3", 225-pound sophomore Dave Ragone enjoyed a terrific season, completing nearly 65% of his passes and throwing for 2,500 yards. He has plenty of weapons at his disposal, led by junior wideout Deion Branch. Another key to the Cardinals success this year was their very opportunistic defense. And if you are looking for their most impressive victory, it came on November 4th when the Cardinals went on the road to Hattiesburg and defeated Southern Mississippi by a score of 49-28. Folks, that's impressive. Also keep in mind that their only two setbacks were against Florida State 31-0 early in the year and Oct. 19 when they fell to an excellent East Carolina team by a score of 28-25.

I have tremendous respect for Colorado St. Head Coach, Sonny Lubick. His teams always peak at just the right time, proving tough to beat in late October and November. QB Matt Newton didn't have Dallas Davis to throw to this season, but he still was able to enjoy a great deal of success through the air waves. And while the Rams definitely missed hard charging RB Kevin McDougal who moved on to the NFL, the Rams attacked with a fairly reliable ground game that received a major shot in the arm from talented sophomore Cecil Sapp.

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