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      Clay's Clincher-Benavides Returns From Freak Injury To Brink Of BCS

      Louisville center Mario Benavides (55) is getting back up to speed after missing the first three games of the season. / Jim Owens/Icon SMI

      After losing four of their first six games, Louisville has bounced back to win five of their last six games and find themselves in the race for the Big East title and a possible BCS bowl bid.

      In the first three games of the season, Louisville was without their best lineman, junior Mario Benavides from Los Fresnos, and many on the coaching staff would say the Cards' slow start had a lot to do with the absence of the former Falcon.

      But in an interview with Big East blogger Andrea Adelson of, Benavides reveals that the mysterious ankle infection that kept him off the field was much worse than anyone knew.

      "It was tough. I lost 20 pounds and didn TMt have an appetite. I was really sick. It was just one of those freak accidents where I woke up at the beginning of camp and I couldn TMt put any weight on my ankle. I was in excruciating pain. My parents flew up as soon as they heard about it from Texas. They were worried about me because something like that can get serious if it spreads throughout your body. I had to wear a PICC line in my heart."

      But the malady went away as fast as it came, and big number 55 was back on the gridiron only days after his release from the hospital. Last Saturday, Benavides and his linemates held the South Florida defense to only one sack in a 34-24 win.