No. 16 Louisville seeks 8-0 start vs. Cincinnati
CINCINNATI BEARCATS (5-1)
at LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (7-0)
Kickoff: Friday, 8:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Louisville -3.5, Total: 53
No. 16 Louisville tries to remain unbeaten when it invites Cincinnati to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on Friday night.
Cincinnati has won each of the past four meetings (3-1 ATS) with Louisville by at least eight points, prevailing 25-16 last year at home. The Bearcats played their first true road game last week and lost 29-23 at Toledo despite not allowing the Rockets to score an offensive touchdown. Louisville barely stayed unbeaten with a 27-25 home win over South Florida last week as QB Teddy Bridgewater was nearly perfect throwing the football (21-of-25, 256 yds, 2 TD, 0 INT).
Which team will prevail in this key Big East showdown? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts picks for every key college football game throughout the 2012 season.
The Bearcats lead the Big East in both points (34.7 PPG) and yards (468 YPG). QB Munchie Legaux is having a strong season, ranking second in the conference with 283 total YPG. He's thrown 12 TD and just 5 INT, but two of those came in last week's loss to Toledo, when he completed just 15-of-36 passes (41.7%). Legaux hasn't relied on one receiver, as five Cincinnati players have between 13 and 18 catches and 185 to 286 receiving yards on the season. Senior RB George Winn is the main ball carrier though, rushing for at least 75 yards in all six games this year, gaining 607 yards on just 97 carries (6.3 YPC). Defensively, Cincinnati has been very strong up front, tallying a Big East-leading 3.0 sacks per game and ranking second in the conference in scoring defense (16.8 PPG allowed). The Bearcats defense has forced 13 turnovers in six games, but just one each in the past two weeks.
Bridgewater has completed 73.4 percent of his passes in 2012, throwing for 1,694 yards (9.0 YPA), 11 TD and 3 INT. He was not very effective in last year's 25-16 loss to Cincinnati though, completing only 17-of-28 throws for 195 yards (7.0 YPA), 0 TD and 1 INT, while taking four sacks. For Bridgewater to be effective on Friday and keep Cincinnati's fierce pass rush at bay, junior RB Senorise Perry (588 rush yds, 10 TD) will have to keep the defense honest. Perry was held to just 29 yards on 11 carries in last week's win over South Florida as his team was held to its lowest rushing output of the season (128 rush yds on 33 carries). Fellow junior RB Jeremy Wright has also had a strong 2012 campaign (477 rush yds, 7 TD), but he ran for just 27 yards on 11 carries last week. Defensively, Louisville has been decent, ranking among the nation's top-40 teams in both scoring defense (21.9 PPG) and total defense (339 YPG). But it has allowed 14 passing touchdowns, the most in the Big East. The Cardinals need to make more plays on defense, forcing just four turnovers in the past four contests.