Bobby Petrino is a perfect 10-0 in season openers as a head coach in college football. I decided to take a look back at each of those 10 games and give a little summary. As you will see, the Kentucky Wildcats were victims in 5 of the 10 games. At Arkansas, they never opened with a big-time opponent while Petrino was there. The Miami win last year was probably the most impressive victory for Petrino in season openers.
10-0 is a great stat, but September 5th in the Georgia Dome will clearly be the biggest test for Petrino in a season opener. The Auburn Tigers will come into the game likely ranked in the top 5, but top 10 for sure. Louisville will be underdogs anywhere from 10-14 points. But you give me Bobby Petrino and THIS much time to prepare? I like our chances. The Cards may not go down there and win, but they will absolutely have the right game plan and be put in position to make the plays to walk out of SEC country with the W.
So here is a little look back at Bobby Petrino’s 10 season openers, all victories. Obviously, the Louisville game descriptions go into a little more detail.
2003 – Louisville def Kentucky 40-24
Bobby Petrino’s first game as the head coach of the University of Louisville would end up setting a tone for Petrino vs Kentucky matchups. The Cards went into Commonwealth Stadium and won the game 40-24. Eric Shelton rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns. Bad special teams plays by the Cats also played a factor. Louisville recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown and also turned a botched punt into a safety. The game started an hour and a half late because of a thunderstorm. Stefan LeFors was the winning QB for the Cards.
2004 – Louisville def Kentucky 28-0
This one will always be special to me. It was my first football game attended as a student at UofL. Again it was the rushing attack that led the Cards as Lionel Gates rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns and Louisville shut out Kentucky 28-0. This was also Brian Brohm’s first game, as he would come in for a series here and there and relieve Stefan LeFors. Kentucky had 87 yards at halftime and had not crossed midfield.
2005 – Louisville def Kentucky 31-24
The game that the country learned about Elvis “Kool” Dumervil. Yes, that is really his middle name. Elvis had six sacks in this game, breaking the school record of five by Mike Flores in 1990 against Murray State. The Cards came into the game ranked 12th in the country and expected to roll over Kentucky, but it took a late fumble by Andre Woodson on the UofL 2 yard line to secure the victory for UofL.
Michael Bush rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns. The QB job was all Brian Brohm’s now, and he threw for 179 yards on 19-27 passing. Believe it or not, he also RUSHED for two touchdowns!
2006 – Louisville def Kentucky 59-28
One of the best pictures in UofL history in my opinion. Michael Bush getting away from nearly the entire Kentucky team (there are 9 in this photo) on his way to 128 yards and three touchdowns in just one half and two plays. He was clearly starting his Heisman campaign on a great note. As we all know, Bush suffered a broken leg in the 2nd half that would end his career at UofL. It was the only way that Kentucky could slow him down.
Brian Brohm threw for 254 yards and one touchdown in his first game back from a knee injury near the end of the 2005 season, which we all remember led to Hunter Cantwell finishing the season for the Cards.
George Stripling rushed for 90 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries. Kolby Smith rushed for 66 yards on 12 carries. Louisville’s offense went for 631 yards. This game was supposed to be close.
2008 – Arkansas def Western Illinois 28-24
In his first game as head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks, Bobby Petrino started the season off with the 28-24 win over Western Illinois in Petrino’s closest season opener to date. It took a touchdown by Arkansas QB Casey Dick with 1:49 to play to give the Razorbacks the lead for good. Arkansas actually trailed 24-14 in the 4th quarter of this one.
The Razorbacks had just lost both Darren McFadden and Felix Jones to the NFL, so I am sure that any win was a good win, but this one was a little too close for comfort.
2009 – Arkansas def Missouri State 48-10
Arkansas passed for 447 yards and dominated this one. New transfer QB Ryan Mallett was 17-22 for 309 yards and one touchdown. They ran back the opening kickoff of the game for a touchdown and never looked back.
2010 – Arkansas def Tennessee Tech 44-3
By now, Arkansas was rolling and started the season 17th in the country and with high expectations. This was their highest preseason ranking since 1990. Ryan Mallett threw for 301 yards and three touchdowns. Tennessee Tech actually led 3-0 after the first quarter, and then things went south quickly for them as they were outscored 44-0 the rest of the way.
Arkansas would finish the season 10-3 with losses to Alabama, Auburn, and then Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl.
2011 – Arkansas def Missouri State 51-7
Arkansas entered the game ranked 15th in the country and dismantled Missouri State for the second time in three season openers. The Hogs led 30-0 at the half. QB Tyler Wilson threw for 260 yards and two touchdowns. It should be noted that he did that while only playing in four offensive possessions for the Razorbacks. Joe Adams returned two punts for touchdowns.
2013 – Western Kentucky def Kentucky 35-26
Now the head coach at Western Kentucky, you had to know that success would be harder to find than at Louisville and Arkansas. What is the perfect recipe for Petrino to get his tenure started? You guessed it: Kentucky in the season opener. Your reaction, Bobby?
This would be the second year in a row that WKU beat Kentucky, and this one was also the debut for Mark Stoops. QB Brandon Doughty threw for 271 yards and a touchdown and looked like a prototypical Bobby Petrino quarterback in this one. WKU out-gained Kentucky and the Air Raid offense 487-419.
2014 – Louisville def Miami 31-13
Debut (again) for Bobby Petrino as the head coach at Louisville. First game in the ACC. National television against the Miami Hurricanes. This one had all the makings of a Bobby Petrino season-opening victory, and the Cards delivered with the 31-13 beat-down of the mighty Hurricanes.
This game is pretty fresh in our minds. Will Gardner looked sharp after the first series as he finished 20-28 for 206 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Dominique Brown rushed 33 times for 143 yards and 1 touchdown. Gerald Christian had 6 catches for 59 yards and a touchdown.
Bobby Petrino and the Cards let the country and the ACC know that we were here to make an impact, not just happy to be in the conference.