Louisville vs. Florida International Game Preview and Predictions

Jon Hancock@@JonKYSportscoSenior Analyst ISeptember 18, 2012

The Louisville Cardinals will start their three-game road trip against the Florida International Golden Panthers Saturday.

The Cardinals are 7-4 on the road since Charlie Strong came to Louisville.

“Anytime you're on the road,” Charlie Strong said Monday in his press conference via UofLSports.com, “It's your togetherness because it's us against them. So, as a team, you have to play together. And it's going to be a great challenge for us.”

The big story of this game will be that FIU upset the Cardinals at home last year, 24-17. The Golden Panthers beat Louisville with speed, as now Indianapolis Colt, T.Y. Hilton caught the ball for 201 yards and two touchdowns. Hilton also had a couple of long kickoff returns.

Louisville is coming off a battle against North Carolina last Saturday. The Cardinals were able to hang on and win 39-34.

For several Louisville players, this is a homecoming game. The Cardinals have 33 players on their roster from the state of Florida, 26 from the Miami area.

Florida International comes into this game 1-2 after losing to Central Florida last Saturday 33-20.


Where: Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium in Miami, Florida

When: Saturday, September 22, at 7 p.m. ET

Watch: ESPN3

Radio: 84 WHAS (In Louisville, KY.) Listen live online HERE.

Betting Line: Louisville -12.5 per VegasInsider.com.

Weather: Weather.com says Saturday will be 85 degrees with a low of 77 in Miami, Florida. There is a 40 percent chance of rain throughout the day.


Players to watch on FIU

Jake Medlock, FIU's starting QB, is a very talented player for a sophomore. He can move around out of the pocket very well and isn't afraid to run the football. Medlock has 711 passing yards in three games for four touchdowns. He also has 39 carries for 169 yards, with a long of 44 yards.

Running back Kedrick Rhodes is a very talented junior. He averages 4.8 yards per carry with 225 yards total this season. He is also one of Madlock's favorite passing targets. The 5'10” back has 10 catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns on the year.

Tourek Williams, a senior defensive end, will be the one to try to stop Louisville's rushing attack. Williams is up for several awards, including The Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year, and he is a part of the Senior Bowl Watch List. The 6'4”, 262 lbs. defensive end went to Miami Norland High School, which is where Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater and several other Cardinal players attended high school.

Williams has 15 tackles, including 4.5 tackles for loss. He also has one force fumble and a sack.


Things to Note About FIU

-FIU allows an average of 39 points a game.

-FIU has returned eight starters from last year on offense.

-FIU allows its opponent an average of 29 points in the second quarter.

-FIU averages 189 yards rushing a game.


Keys to a Louisville Victory

-Protect Teddy Bridgewater. He is having an incredible year so far, and the last thing they need is for him to be injured.

-Score early and hold onto lead. Louisville dominated North Carolina Saturday in the first half, but allowed the Tar Heels to comeback and almost win. The Cardinals need to show maturity as a team and not get complacent.

-Have success running the ball. Jeremy Wright and Senorise Perry have become a huge threat to defenses, giving plenty of opportunity for Bridgewater to open up the passing game.


Game Predictions

The Cardinals have something to prove in this game, and they will be ready for business. The loss to FIU has haunted them for a year now, and they are ready to move on.

The Golden Panthers likes to spread their defense up, which will allow the defensive line to get pressure on the FIU's quarterback. I expect FIU to be forced to make a lot of turnovers.

Teddy Bridgewater will spread the ball around, proving he is a legit candidate for the Heisman.

I predict Louisville to win 48-10.


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