Andrell Smith and Scott Radcliff
Louisville has two more games to prove to the nation that they are for real.
The Louisville Cardinals lost their first game of the season against the Syracuse Orange two weeks ago, 45-26. The loss not only knocked the Cardinals out of the top 10, but also made it more difficult for Louisville to go to a BCS bowl.
The Cardinals will take on the Connecticut Huskies on Saturday in their final home game of the season. They will honor 13 seniors during a halftime ceremony.
In the two years that Charlie Strong has been at U of L, the Cards have lost both of their games on senior day.
Louisville leads the all-time series against UConn 5-3, with the Cardinals winning the last two games.
Louisville head coach Charlie Strong said during his Monday press conference about the game via GoCards.com:
We have Connecticut, who’s coming into town, a very physical football team. Watching them play, they love to run the ball on offense. So, it’s going to be a great test for our defense to see if we can go stop the run. Then, just defensively, they are a team on defense where they apply a lot of pressure.
The Huskies come into the game 4-6 on the season. They beat Pittsburgh two weeks ago 24-17 at home, but they are 1-4 on the road this season.
UConn's head coach, Paul Pasqualoni, said in his press conference about the game via UConnHuskies.com, "Louisville is obviously an excellent team. They have one of the top quarterbacks in the country. It will be a hostile environment for sure; a tough place to play."
When: Saturday, November 24 at 12 p.m. E.T.
Where: Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, KY.
Watch: Big East Network
WHAS-11 in Louisville, KY.
Listen: 840 WHAS in Louisville, KY.
WTIC 1080-AM in Hartford, CT.
Betting Line: Louisville -11.5 per VegasInsider.com.
Weather: According to Weather.com, it will be sunny with a high of 39 degrees.
Players to watch on Connecticut
Sophomore QB Chandler Whitmer will lead the Huskies' offense on Saturday. Whitmer has a very good arm, but is prone to making mistakes, especially when he is pressured.
He has thrown for 2,328 yards and eight touchdowns so far this season, but has also thrown 14 interceptions and been sacked 28 times.
UConn thinks of themselves as more of a running team and sophomore Lyle McCombs will be UConn's starting running back. He has 667 rushing yards and five touchdowns this season.
Linebackers Sio Moore and Yawin Smallwood will play a huge part on the defensive end for UConn.
Moore, a red-shirt senior, has 64 tackles and seven sacks this season. He was named to the Butkus Award and Lombardi Award watch lists before the season even started.
Smallwood is only a sophomore, but leads the Huskies with 100 tackles so far this season. He also has four sacks and 13 tackles for a loss.
-UConn has allowed, on average, only 18.4 points per game game this season, but scores an average of 17.3 a game.
-Louisville averages 33.2 points a game and allows 24.6.
-UConn's defense has allowed 107.6 rushing yards per game this season.
-Louisville averages 430.1 yards of total offense a game.
-Louisville gives up 337.2 yards a game on defense.
-UConn's defense has 27 sacks this season.
-The Huskies are ranked ninth in the country in total defense.
Keys to a Louisville victory
1. Play smart. Louisville must win the turnover battle if they want to win this game.
2. Start the running game early. Senorise Perry, the Cards leading rusher, is out for the season with an ACL injury. Jeremy Wright and Corvin Lamb must step up big.
3. Use the home-field advantage. Papa John's Cardinal Stadium will be packed for senior day; the Cards need to keep the fans in it.
Louisville knows how much they need this win and the seniors deserve to go out with a win at home.
I expect senior corner back Adrian Bushell to have a couple interceptions.
Teddy Bridgewater will throw for four touchdowns and over 300 yards.
The question will be, can the Cardinals get their running game going? This could be red-shirt freshman Corvin Lamb's chance to prove himself.
Expect Louisville to run for over 100 yards, which will open up the passing game.
Louisville will win 36-18.