The Louisville Cardinals and South Florida Bulls are going in different directions.
The Cardinals got off to a very slow start, but have come on strong down the stretch, with wins in four of their last five games. Suddenly, they are staring at a chance to grab a share of the Big East title.
The Bulls, on the other hand, have completely fallen apart down the stretch. They started 4-0, but have since gone 1-5. They're going to need to finish strong if they want to earn bowl eligibility.
Let's take a closer look at this matchup:
Where: Raymond James Stadium
When: Friday, Nov. 25 at 11:00 a.m. ET
Watch: ESPN2 and streaming online at ESPN3.com
Betting Line: South Florida -3, according to Sportsbook.
The Bulls' chances of winning the Big East evaporated weeks ago, but the Cardinals can earn a share of the Big East title with a win on Friday. Louisville hasn't won the Big East since 2006, so you know the Cardinals are going to be fired up.
Who Might Not Play for Louisville
According to the USA Today, the Cardinals have a couple of injuries they'll be monitoring this week. Defensive end Marcus Smith is still feeling an ankle injury he suffered in Week 10, and defensive tackle Greg Scruggs is still dealing with a foot injury. Both are questionable for Friday's game.
Who Might Not Play for South Florida
The Cardinals are dealing with a couple injuries, but the Bulls are dealing with a bunch (again via USA Today). Linebacker Curtis Weatherspoon (knee) and quarterback B.J. Daniels (shoulder) are both listed as doubtful for Friday's game. Tight end Isaac Virgin (shoulder), fullback Chris Breit (shoulder), wide receiver A.J. Love (shin) and defensive end Claude Davis (ankle) are all questionable.
BCS/Top 25 Poll Implications
There are neither. Both the Cardinals and the Bulls are well outside the BCS Top 25, and neither of them will be playing in a BCS bowl this year. The best thing either team can do is hope for a bowl bid.
What They're Saying
While the present Cardinals football team has its hands full preparing for Friday's game, much of the attention in Louisville at the moment is focused on former Cardinals star Lenny Lyles, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 75.
“Lenny was an icon,” Louisville head coach Charlie Strong said, according to The Courier-Journal. “He was one of the first African-American players to come into this program. He’s done so much. And when you think of him he was one of those players who didn’t need the spotlight. He was always behind the scenes.”
Lyles played for Louisville in the 1950s, and would eventually be the No. 11 overall pick in the 1958 NFL Draft.
Meanwhile in Tampa, Greg Auman of the St. Petersburg Times points out that the Bulls could be in line for a rather significant matchup if they can get one more win to become bowl eligible. Another win could put them in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl in St. Petersburg, in which they could face East Carolina.
In case you've forgotten, South Florida head coach Skip Holtz used to coach at East Carolina.
If the Bulls can get win No. 6—and that's still a big if, with games against Louisville and West Virginia and QB B.J. Daniels' status uncertain due to a shoulder injury—then having Holtz against his old team would be the best sell the bowl could ask for.
And as we all know, selling these bowls is the only thing that matters.
Louisville Player to Watch
The Cardinals are not a strong offensive team, but they got a nice lift from freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater against UConn this past Saturday. He didn't throw any touchdown passes, but he did run for two. Because Louisville's defense is so good, the Cardinals don't need much from Bridgewater, but they will gladly accept whatever he gives them.
South Florida Player to Watch
You just have a bad feeling that B.J. Daniels isn't going to be able to play on Friday. If he can't go, it will be up to Bobby Eveld to move the ball for the Bulls. He should probably be ready for action, no matter what Daniels' status is.
Who ya got, Louisville or South Florida?
Regardless who is under center for the Bulls, it's not going to be easy to move the ball on Louisville's defense, which is arguably the best unit in the Big East. If South Florida can't find a way to generate some offense, this game is going to get away from them very quickly.
Prediction: Louisville 24, USF 17
This is not going to be a pretty game to behold, but I think the Cardinals will ultimately come away with it. Daniels' injury status is a huge concern, and I think the Bulls will be overmatched against Louisville's defense.