ORANGE BOWL - Jan. 2, 2007 - Dolphin Stadium, Miami, FL
Wake Forest (11-2) vs Louisville (11-1)
Wake Forest - the best major conference Cinderella story since Northwestern's Rose Bowl run in 1995 - gets a chance to surpass those Wildcats in college football lore when they face 11-1 Lousiville in the Orange Bowl. Northwestern '95 lost that Rose Bowl to Keyshawn Johnson's USC Trojans 41-32, in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicates. And, should Wake win on Tuesday night, that accomplishment will be even more impressive, since Louisville '06 is a helluva lot better than USC '95.
Unfortunately for the Demon Deacons, the Cardinals are by far the best team they will have faced this season. In fact, Louisville is probably the 3rd or 4th best team in the nation, depending on what we see in the BCS Championship Game next week. Wake appears to be overmatched at basically every position in terms of talent and speed, and while Jim Grobe has deservedly hauled in many a coach of the year honor, the Cards' Bobby Petrino has quitely turned in one of the top 5 best coaching jobs this year. Lest we forget, the 'Ville's lone loss was that Thursday Night upset at Rutgers on a last second field goal. Their domination of bowl winners West Virginia (44-34), Kentucky (59-28), Miami (31-7), and South Florida (31-8) is ample evidence of how damn good they are.
The one speck of hope for Wake is that their strongest suit defensively - forcing the turnover - is helped by the fact that the Cardinals are merely average at holding onto the ball (51st in turnover margin). Nonetheless, the clock will strike midnight for the Deacs. But nothing can take away from the fact that Wake Freaking Forest Is In The Orange Bowl. We'll still be talking about that 30 years from now.
Louisville 33, Wake Forest 17