The Cardinals (3-0) come into week 4 action at noon home against Florida International (0-3) at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. With the rivalry factor in full swing last week, Cardinals backers got lucky if they bought down or by chance got in on the action early in week 3's 27-13 win over Kentucky. While there were kinks and at times a lack of execution in the offense the defense turned in a valiant effort forcing 3 turnovers, much to the delight of defensive coordinator Vance Bedford who makes it no secret preaching dominance week in and week out for the 7th ranked Cardinals.
Of course it only adds motivation on both sides of the ball playing a Golden Panthers team sitting near the D-1 basement in both offense and defense through the young season. Junior QB Teddy Bridgewater (62/88 1002 10 TD 1 INT) is in the Heisman discussion and off to a solid start with the benefit of a cupcake schedule sweeter and easier than a Betty Croquer recipe. Give credit to Kentucky's defense where it is due as the final outcome seemed a lot closer than most anticipated. Still Bridgewater completed 16/28 passes for 250 yards and a TD to Devante Parker (13-257 4 TD) who is a top target along with Damian Copeland (12-211 3 TD). Additional support in the backfield is led by Senorise Perry ( 37-194 5.2 3 TD) and Michael Dyer (22-132 6.0 1 TD) who combined for 162 yard sin last week's win. Defensively, the Golden Panthers allow over 400 yards and over 38 points per game. They have a very weak front seven that the Cardinals should take advantage of due to size and speed.
More bad news for FIU is that the Cardinal defense has clamped down ranking 5th in overall defense and limiting opponents under 25% in 3rd down conversions. That includes pitching a shutout against Kentucky over 13 attempts. Louisville’s proficiency on what defensive players call the “money down” could improve against the Panthers. DE's Marcus Smith and Lorenzo Mauldin have led the way in making big plays as has Charles Gaines who killed a Wildcats drive with a pick. The Golden Eagles have scored only 3 TD's in as many games so far and things have started out roughly inept for QB Jake Medlock (30/55 303 1 TD 1 INT). Louisville’s defense has allowed just 9 points per game thus far. FIU doesn't have much depth in the running game either, as Lamarq Caldwell (44-144 3.3 1 TD) has accounted for the lone score on the ground.
Even though this matchup has been a lot closer in recent years on the scoreboard, there isn't much chance Louisville will look past FIU especially after a lackluster performance last week against their interstate rivals. We may have laid an egg last week backing a tough MAC rivalry in Marshall on the road with never much of a chance, but I'm not expecting any surprises nor backdoor covers in this one despite the large number. Strong, Bridgewater and company won't be contempt until calling off the dogs midway through the 4th quarter as the Cardinals just have too many weapons on both sides of the ball to let up throughout. Best of luck however you play!
YTD 2-1 .667