Servpro First Responder Bowl today, Louisville against Air Force

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The University of Louisville has accepted a bid to play Air Force in the 2021 ServPro First Responder Bowl in Dallas, Texas., on Dec. 28 at Gerald Ford Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 3:15 p.m. (EST) and will be televised by ESPN.

This will be Louisville’s first appearance in the First Responder Bowl. This will be Louisville’s first appearance in a bowl since defeating Mississippi State 38-28 in the 2019 Music City Bowl.

The Cardinals, who are 6-6 overall and 4-4 in Atlantic Coast Conference play, closed the 2021 regular season by winning two of their final three games, with wins coming over Syracuse and Duke.

The Cardinals have been one of the top offensive units in the country by displaying a balanced offense. On the ground, UofL enters the postseason ranked 20thnationally at 211.3 yards per game. The Cardinals have been solid through the air at 238.9 yards per game.
Collectively, the Cardinals rank 20th in the country in total offense at 450.3 yards per game, including a season best 687 yards in a win over Duke on Nov. 18.

The offense has been led by quarterback Malik Cunningham, who has accounted for an average of 308.2 yards per game of total offense and 37 touchdowns this season. The native of Montgomery, Ala., has rushed for 968 yards – the national best among quarterbacks — and 19 touchdowns and needs 32 yards to become the second quarterback in school history to reach the 1,000-yard mark. The redshirt junior has also passed for 2,734 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Tight end Marshon Ford, a third team all-ACC selection, led the Cardinals with 47 receptions for 530 yards and two touchdowns this season and enters the game by catching a pass in 22-straight games.

Defensively, the Cardinals have given up an average of 156.7 yards on the ground and 401.8 yards per game this season.

Outside linebacker Yasir Abdullah, a second team all-ACC performer, led the Cardinals with 9.0 sacks, the most by a UofL player since 2015. Linebacker C.J. Avery led the Cardinals with 87 tackles followed by safeties Qwynnterrio Cole and Kenderick Duncan, who have 78 and 77 stops respectively.

Louisville and Air Force will meet for the first time in school history when the two teams square off in postseason play. It will be the first game for the Cardinals against a military academy since facing Army in 2004.

The Falcons finished the regular season at 9-3 and 6-2 in the Mountain West Conference and enter the postseason on a three-game winning streak. Air Force leads the nation in rushing at 342.0 yards per game and has the nation’s 10th-best running back in Brad Roberts, who averages 107.0 yards per game. 

Louisville has a rich bowl tradition. The Cardinals hold an 11-11-1 bowl record and are making their 19th postseason appearance over the last 24 seasons. Head coach Scott Satterfield, the 2019 ACC Coach of the Year, will lead a team to a bowl game for the sixth time in his career.

Gerald J. Ford Stadium at SMU 2011 photo. By Jmcstrav – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https commons.wikimedia.org

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