Louisville Cardinals vs Rutgers Scarlet Knights
When: Thursday, Nov. 29, 7:30 p.m.
Where: High Point Solutions Stadium
Louisville and Rutgers could have made this game very easy for both programs. Louisville was undefeated until the last two weeks. It could be a coincidence, but ever since Charlie Strong’s name has been linked to other jobs, the Cardinals have not played well. The Syracuse loss was foreseeable, but the home loss to Connecticut hurt their chances for a BCS berth. Louisville still has a chance to earn the bid if they beat Rutgers, but it will come down to the BCS rankings. A loss will leave the Cardinals in third place. The Big East still has a chance of a four-way tie for the conference title.
Rutgers played the worst game of the season last Saturday when they scored six points against Pittsburgh. A win last week would have clinched the Big East title and a BCS berth for the Scarlet Knights. In similar fashion to Louisville, the Rutgers offense hasn’t shown up to the party the last couple of weeks. The Scarlet Knights have combined for 16 points.
Last year, Kevin Sumlin was rumored for jobs like Charlie Strong is this year. Houston went on to play the worst game of the season in Sumlin’s last game. The Cardinal’s must be careful of same exact situation going on here. Teddy Bridgewater is completing 68 percent of his passes this season. He also has thrown 23 touchdowns with one game to play. The loss of Senorise Perry will be a big blow to the Louisville running game. They need to make up his production with a group of players, including DeVante Parker at the wide receiver position. Running back, Jeremy Wright will have to carry the bulk of the load on the ground. It will be a tough game for Louisville to dominate on the ground.
The defense should have success against a Rutgers’ offense that is struggling. The Cardinals have had their own problems also, but if they are focused for this game, they should be able to control the Scarlet Knights.
The offense needs to be productive with the rushing attack. They haven’t been a great offense all year, but they really hit rock bottom against Pittsburgh. They’ll need to score some points to win this game on Thursday. The running game can pound Louisville’s defense and keep the ball out of Bridgewater’s hands. They must play smart and Nova can’t have bad turnovers if they are to win the conference title. The Scarlet Knights looked lackluster all game long last week. Jawan Jamison has to provide the energy for the offense.
Defensively, Rutgers has been really good for most of the season. It’s no coincidence that their worst games have resulted in losses. The Scarlet Knights rely on their defense to win games, so they must play up to a championship level every week. Teddy Bridgewater is one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, so Rutgers will have their problems. They’ll have to get pressure on Bridgewater first and foremost. Rutgers has the defensive front to control the running game, but they must play better than last week.
After last week, it’s hard to tell which team will win this game. They both lost games that make is seem like they were distracted. Rutgers is back at home for the finale, so that’s who we are going with. A win will earn them a BCS berth. We will know a lot about what Charlie Strong is doing after the game. If Louisville is prepared, there is a good chance that he is staying. If not, then you will have a sense that Strong might be leaving.