No. 10 Louisville beats Miami to clinch spot in ACC title game, keep CFP hopes alive

Louisville quarterback Jack Plummer (13) scrambles as he looks for a receiver against Miami linebacker Francisco Mauigoa (51) on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

No. 10 Louisville is headed to the ACC title game for the first time in program history.

Thanks to a 38-31 road win over Miami, the Cardinals clinched a showdown with undefeated Florida State in the conference championship game and also kept their College Football Playoff hopes alive.

It wasn’t easy.

Playing just its third true road game of the season, Louisville, now 10-1, got a four-quarter battle from Miami and found itself trailing 21-20 at halftime thanks to a pair of kicking miscues — a missed 24-yard field goal and a blocked extra point.

The teams then traded the lead throughout the second half until the score was tied at 31-31 with 5:34 to play thanks to a 51-yard field goal from Miami’s Andres Borregales.

It did not take long for Louisville to respond and score what proved to be the game-winning touchdown. On a second-down play, two Miami defensive backs ran into one another, allowing Louisville quarterback Jack Plummer to find a wide-open Kevin Coleman. Once the pass was completed, Coleman was in the open field. He then sprinted past Miami safety Kam Kinchens for a 58-yard catch-and-run touchdown to give the Cardinals a 38-31 lead.

There was still 4:17 to play, so Miami's hopes weren't dashed.

Tyler Van Dyke, back into the starting lineup at quarterback following an injury to Emory Williams in last week’s loss to Florida State, led the Hurricanes deep into Louisville territory with a chance to tie the score.

In fact, the Hurricanes had a first-and-goal at the Louisville 4-yard line. But they came up empty.

Mark Fletcher gained a yard on first down and Van Dyke threw incomplete passes on second and third down. Facing fourth down, Miami inexplicably burned a timeout, and then another Van Dyke pass fell incomplete. The throw was intended for Jacolby George, who was looking for a pass interference flag. And when that flag didn’t come, George got into it with the Louisville defensive back and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Even with the turnover on downs, Miami would have still had a chance had it not wasted the first of its three timeouts and then committed a 15-yard penalty. Louisville would have been backed up inside its own 5-yard line and a three-and-out would have given Miami another chance with plenty of time since it could have stopped the clock.

Instead, Louisville was able to run out much of the remaining of the clock and ultimately win the game by stopping Miami just short of the end zone on a last-second Hail Mary.

Louisville's remarkable season continues

Louisville is in just its first season under head coach Jeff Brohm. Brohm led Purdue to a Big Ten West title before accepting the head-coaching job at his alma mater.

He has done an incredible job. The Cardinals were mired in mediocrity under Scott Satterfield but are now 10-1 overall and 7-1 in ACC play with Brohm leading the program. Sure, Louisville avoided many of the ACC's top teams on its schedule, but Brohm assembled a team with a heavy transfer class and found a way to stack win after win. Not only is this Louisville's first trip to the conference championship game as a member of the ACC, but it's the program's first 10-win season since 2013.

Louisville was No. 10 in the most-recent College Football Playoff rankings thanks to its ugly road loss to a bad Pitt team. The Cardinals, who were behind two-loss Missouri in the rankings, have won four consecutive games since that defeat with their annual rivalry game vs. Kentucky coming next weekend at home.

From there, UL will square off with No. 4 Florida State in the ACC title game. FSU will certainly take care of business later Saturday vs. North Alabama before a potentially tricky road game vs. rival Florida.

If FSU gets through those games undefeated and Louisville knocks off Kentucky, the ACC title game is going to have significant playoff implications.