Louisville and Heisman hopeful Teddy Bridgewater begin the quest for a BCS Title by welcoming the Ohio Bobcats out of the MAC to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
The Cardinals are ranked No. 9 in both the coaches and AP polls per USA Today after steamrolling the Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl 33-23 to close out the season. With Bridgewater under center and a full head of steam, Louisville could be in for a special season.
Ohio could be headed toward a season to remember as well with a star quarterback of its own returning in Tyler Tettleton. The Bobcats only went 9-4 last season before dominating the ULM Warhawks in the Independence Bowl 45-14, marking the second-consecutive bowl win in program history.
Both teams are gearing up for major seasons in each program's history. Something is going to have to give when the two collide.
Here is everything you need to know about the big matchup.
When: Sept. 1 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, Ky.
Live Stream: ESPN3
Spread: Louisville (-20.5) via Vegas Insider
Injury Report (via USA Today)
DE Lorenzo Mauldin (undisclosed) Questionable
CB Larenzo Fisher (Suspension) Out
QB Greg Windham (Suspension) Out
TE Davon Henry (Shoulder) Out for season
TE John Tanner (Shoulder) Out for season
Ohio Player to Watch: Tyler Tettleton, QB
Tyler Tettleton enters 2013 with two years of starting experience under his belt. Those two years after receiving a redshirt were historic to say the least.
Thanks to his 2,844 yards passing in 2012, Tettleton became the first Ohio quarterback to throw for 2,500 yards or more in back-to-back seasons.
Along with his impressive yards total, Tettleton threw 18 touchdowns to just four interceptions while completing just over 62 percent of his passes. He also rushed for 244 yards, which ranked third-best on the team.
The Co-Offensive Most Valuable Player at the 2012 Independence Bowl is riding a wave of positive momentum and is carrying the Bobcats along for the ride. If Tettleton can get into a rhythm and find his weapons consistently, the contest with the Cardinals could be close.
Louisville Player to Watch: Teddy Bridgewater, QB
Teddy Bridgewater is one of college football's most electric players and a surefire name to be in the conversation for the Heisman award at the end of the season.
The BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year last season, Bridgewater threw for 3,718 yards, 27 touchdowns and only eight interceptions while completing a superb 68.5 percent of his passes.
After suffering a fractured wrist and an ankle sprain in a triple-overtime loss to Connecticut, Bridgewater came off the bench against Rutgers anyway the following week and threw for 263 yards and two scores while only tossing eight incompletions. As a result, Louisville won the BIG EAST title.
So not only is Bridgewater an elite college quarterback, he is tough to boot. After downing Florida 33-23 in the Sugar Bowl and with plenty returning talent, Bridgewater and Louisville are riding a bit of momentum as well and will be a tough opponent.
Prediction: Louisville 35, Ohio 17
Ohio traditionally has a stout defense under ninth-year head coach Frank Solich, but Louisville is a higher breed of offense than the Bobcats are used to encountering.
Louisville's offense may be a bit sluggish in the early goings in the first game of the year, but that goes both ways. At the end of the day, a Heisman contender like Bridgewater is simply too much to contain for four quarters.
For Ohio, the loss stings but it is not the end of the world with a MAC schedule on slate and the Bobcats figuring to be a contender in the conference. The Cardinals will come away with a nice tune-up victory before getting into a schedule dominated by tough AAC matchups.
Expect this one to be close for a quarter or so before things begin to heavily favor the Cardinals.
Follow B/R's Chris Roling on Twitter for more news and analysis @Chris_Roling
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