When No. 25 Louisville brought native son Jeff Brohm home, it was for moments like Saturday night: An historic 33-20 win over No. 10 Notre Dame, snapping the Irish’s record 30-game regular-season ACC winning streak.
Brohm, who grew up in Louisville and went on to star at quarterback for the Cardinals, now has Louisville 6-0 in his first year as head coach. After Louisville completed the upset over the Irish, fans stormed the field, and singer Jack Harlow could be seen standing next to Brohm shouting, “He’s the s—!”
“It’s a great win,” Brohm said in his postgame press conference. “And yeah, I like big games. Our team likes big games. If you can’t get up for those, this maybe isn’t the sport for you. But you’ve got to come ready to play, and you’ve got to do all the small things. You’ve got to be aggressive.”
That is exactly the way Louisville played the Irish, coming after quarterback Sam Hartman from the start. It was reminiscent of the way Louisville played Hartman last season when he was the starting quarterback at Wake Forest and had six turnovers in a loss to the Cardinals. On the opening drive Saturday, Hartman threw an interception — his first of three on the day.
In addition, Louisville sacked Hartman five times, and the Irish could not get their running game going — gaining only 44 yards on the ground. In all, Notre Dame turned the ball over five times. Afterward, Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman said, “Nobody has affected our quarterback quite like Louisville did.”
“Everybody is going to point the finger at Sam,” Freeman said. “You better point the finger at me. We have to do a better job of protecting our quarterback and putting him in situations to have a higher percentage for success.”
Duke tried to make Hartman uncomfortable last week, but Hartman was able to make two critical plays at the end of the game to lead Notre Dame to a come-from-behind victory, including a 17-yard run on fourth-and-16. But that wasn’t to be against Louisville, which completely controlled the game in the second half and was very clearly the more physical team.
“We were aggressive in our packages against their personnel looks,” Brohm said. “We were going to make them beat us throwing the football, make him throw it over our head. I think when we got the first interception on the first drive, they probably said maybe we can’t throw it over their head as much and then we applied more pressure.”
This is the first time in school history that Louisville beat an AP top-10 opponent in back-to-back seasons. Last year, it was Hartman and No. 10 Wake Forest. This year, it was Hartman and Notre Dame. While the Louisville defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage, so did the Louisville offensive line — a week after not playing its best game against NC State.
Running back Jawhar Jordan was the difference maker with a season-high 143 yards and two touchdowns, while quarterback Jack Plummer played an efficient game, going 17-of-24 for 145 yards and a touchdown. It was a signature win for Brohm early in his tenure, after Louisville hired him away from Purdue to replace Scott Satterfield. But for Notre Dame, now with two losses, another big game awaits against USC with College Football Playoff hopes all but over.
“You don’t have much time to feel sorry for yourself,” Freeman said. “I’m going to really count on our leaders to make sure our guys understand we have to learn from this game and then we have to move forward and get ready for USC. We cannot sit here and mope and feel bad for ourselves. We have to move forward. This will be a true test of our leadership.”