Names were deceiving in the Fiesta Bowl.
Take Alabama's Crimson Tide, making their 43rd trip to a bowl, more than any college football team. Alabama is synonymous with tradition and winning.
And the Louisville Cardinals. Isn't that a basketball school?But Louisville, making only its fourth postseason appearance and first since 1977, pulled a New Year's Day surprise in the 20th annual game by rolling to a 34-7 victory at Sun Devil Stadium.
"We're used to big games," Alabama linebacker John Sullins said. "Auburn was a big game for us and we knew that this was a big game for us.
"But Louisville, looking at their schedule, we just didn't think they were that good a team."
Respect and recognition may now be due No. 18 Louisville (10-1-1).
"We had to come out here and gain respect and I guess that's what we did," said Louisville cornerback Ray Buchanan, named the defensive player of the game after recovering two fumbles, one in the end zone for a touchdown.
Louisville has been seeking respect since Howard Schnellenberger took over the program in 1985. His first three teams went 2-9, 2-8 and 3-7-1.
Schnellenberger, who unabashedly says that his ultimate goal is a national championship for the Cardinals, finally had a winner in 1988 when the Cardinals went 8-3. It was the school's first winning season in nine years.
Louisville followed that with a 6-5 record, and this year's team set a school record for most victories in a season.
The triumph in the Fiesta Bowl for Schnellenberger is the equivalent of man's first step on the moon.
"I said before we played today that coming to this bowl was a quantum leap for this program," he said. "Winning as big as we did was another quantum leap."
Louisville quarterback Browning Nagle felt the Cardinals were hungrier for victory than No. 25 Alabama (7-5).
"I honestly don't think they took us seriously," said Nagle, who completed 20 of 33 passes for three touchdowns and a Fiesta record 451 yards.
Alabama coach Gene Stallings agreed.
"Louisville looked as if they might have wanted the game more than we did," he said. "I thought they were a good team, and at the very worst, the game was even."