Louisville's Bush breaks right leg in season opener

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Louisville Heisman Trophy and All-America candidate Michael Bush suffered a broken right leg Sunday night early in the third quarter in the Cardinals' game against Kentucky, an injury that will end his season.

The injury, which occurred as Bush was being tackled by Wildcats linebacker Wesley Woodyard, is a potentially devastating blow to Louisville's hopes for a Big East championship, BCS bid and any hopes it had for national title contention. The NCAA 2005 scoring champion, who had worked himself into the best shape of his life, had rolled up 128 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries in just over two quarters of work against Kentucky. His first carry of the season was a 48-yard touchdown.

It was apparent that the injury was severe almost immediately, as the 245-pound Bush writhed in pain on the Papa John's Cardinal Stadium turf. Louisville medical staff applied an inflatable cast to Bush's leg and he was carted off. Bush tried to rouse a stricken capacity crowd as he was taken off the field.

Louisville, ranked 13th in both polls, was leading 31-14 at the time of the injury.

This marked the third major injury suffered by a Louisville star in the last three games played on the artificial turf at PJCS. Bush sprained his foot last Nov. 4 against Pittsburgh and missed Louisville's next two games. And in the home finale of 2005, quarterback Brian Brohm tore his ACL and dislocated his kneecap against Syracuse, ending his season.

Bush wanted to enter the NFL draft after last year, his junior season at Louisville. He reluctantly returned for his senior year when he was told he did not project as a first-round pick.

In his career, Bush has run for 2,508 yards -- seventh in Louisville history -- and scored 41 touchdowns -- second in school history.

Bush's place in the lineup likely will be shared by senior
Kolby Smith and sophomore George Stripling. Both have been productive reserves, but neither comes close to packing the short-yardage wallop of Bush.

Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPN4D@aol.com.