HOUSTON (AP) -- Louisville hardly needs any help putting points
on the scoreboard. Houston gave the Cardinals a little assistance
The Cardinals (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today, No. 8 AP) scored 30 points in the fourth
quarter, aided by a few late Houston gaffes, to turn a close game
into a rout with a 65-27 victory on Saturday night. Perhaps trying
to impress poll voters and improve its grade in the Bowl
Championship Series standings, Louisville added a final touchdown
on Deriontae Taylor's 6-yard run with 1:47 left.
"They were really challenging us with a chance to score,"
Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said. His players "were really
excited on the sidelines about getting the ball back and felt like
we could go score. The turnovers really helped a lot."
Stefan LeFors threw for 317 yards and three touchdowns and Eric
Shelton rushed for three more scores to help the high-powered
Cardinals clinch at least a share of the Conference USA title.
But the Cardinals are dreaming of even more. Of course, dream is
the appropriate word.
Ranked 10th in this week's BCS standings, Louisville (8-0, 6-1)
has only a slim chance of getting an invite to one of the four
big-money bowls. Even with wins over Cincinnati and Tulane in their
final two regular-season games, the Cardinals will still likely be
shut out of the BCS.
"All we can do is keep winning," LeFors said.
Louisville, which boasts the nation's No. 1 offense, had little
trouble moving the ball against the hapless Cougars. The Cardinals
rolled to 666 yards of offense, averaging 9.7 yards a play, and
scored more than 50 points for the fifth time this season.
LeFors, the nation's leader in pass efficiency, completed his
first 10 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns, both to tight end
Adam McCauley. He turned over the offense to freshman Brian Brohm
early in the second period.
Brohm responded with a 74-yard touchdown pass to Joshua Tinch on
his second series, giving the Cardinals a 28-10 lead.
The Cougars (3-8, 3-5) kept chipping away at the Cardinals' lead
in the second half.
On third-and-11 from the Louisville 40, Houston quarterback
Kevin Kolb bobbled the snap before gathering it in and throwing a
screen pass to Vincent Marshall. The 5-foot-9 Marshall started for
the sideline, squirted through a few tacklers and sprinted to the
end zone to close Louisville's lead to 35-27 just 48 seconds into
the fourth period.
The sparse crowd at Robertson Stadium actually got into the game
a little bit, finally having something to cheer about after
"It was a little rough in the middle," Petrino said. "They
have a unique offense ... one of the hardest to prepare for."
But the Cardinals scored 23 unanswered points in little more
than four minutes, capitalizing on a safety after Houston snapped
the ball out of the end zone and an interception deep in Houston
"When they got close," LeFors said, "we knew that we just had
to go back out and score more points and just keep having fun."
Shelton scored his third touchdown on a 2-yard run following
Kolb's turnover, giving Louisville a 58-27 lead midway through the
LeFors completed 18 of 22 passes, five to Tinch for 148 yards
and a touchdown. Montrell Jones had four catches for 93 yards and
J.R. Russell added seven receptions for 99 yards.
Not all the Cougars were so impressed with LeFors.
"He's not as good as this stat sheet says. This (sheet) lies,
if you ask me," Houston cornerback Stanford Routt said. "There
were a lot of times when we had a blown coverage here and a missed
The defeat was yet another disappointment for the Cougars in
their second season under coach Art Briles.
A year after going 7-6 and earning its first bowl appearance in
seven years, Houston was overwhelmed in its third game against a
Top 10 team this season. The Cougars also lost to No. 2 Oklahoma
and then-No. 4 Miami. Add in Saturday's game, and the Cougars were
outscored 166-53 by their three toughest foes.
"That's not a task you want to have unless you're really at the
top of your game," Briles said. "When you're a team trying to
find your identity, that's not the way to find it."
Kolb finished 29-of-44 for 375 yards with two touchdowns and an
interception. Marshall had eight catches for 152 yards and a score.
"You look at the scoreboard and it looks like we didn't do that
good," Marshall said. "But it always came down to a couple of