Football Bowl Subdivision
WEEKLY SCHEDULE
12345
678910
1112131415
161718
 
         === Cincinnati visits No. 16 Louisville in Big East brawl ===
 
 Louisville, KY (Sports Network) - Led by the accurate arm of quarterback Teddy
 Bridgewater, the No. 16 Louisville Cardinals will attempt to keep their
 perfect season alive in a Big East conference clash with the explosive
 Cincinnati Bearcats at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
 
 After a blazing start to the season, Cincinnati was cooled down last weekend
 in a 29-23 loss to instate foe Toledo. In a matchup of two prolific offenses,
 the Bearcats lost despite out-gaining the Rockets in total yards by a 478-355
 margin. Cincinnati was 5-0 and ranked No. 21 in the top-25 entering the game
 but with the loss has dropped from the national rankings. This is only
 Cincinnati's second Big East game with the first a 34-10 rout of Pittsburgh in
 game one of the season.
 
 Louisville has yet to take its foot off the gas this season with the Cardinals
 a perfect 7-0 entering play. Louisville has remained relatively still in the
 national rankings over the last few weeks and currently sits at No. 16 which
 is where it sat last week before rallying for a 27-25 win over South Florida.
 The 7-0 start is the best for the Cardinals since 2006. The Cardinals have
 also won four straight at home, the longest such streak under head coach
 Charlie Strong.
 
 These former Conference USA opponents have met a total of 51 times with
 Cincinnati holding the edge with a 29-21-1 record against Louisville. Since
 the pair joined the Big East in 2005, Cincinnati has also been the more
 dominant team, though by a slim 4-3 margin. That includes wins in each of
 the last two seasons.
 
 Normally one to downplay the importance of a single game, Strong has made it
 clear that this game is a crucial one for his team.
 
 "We know this is a big game for us this week," Strong said. "We haven't been
 undefeated since I've been here. We haven't been in the conference race. We
 just talk about being a one-game season, and let's just continue to play. But
 this is a big game; it's a big game for the program."
 
 Offense has come easily to Cincinnati this season with the Bearcats ranked at
 the top of the Big East in total yards (467.5 pg) and scoring offense (34.7
 ppg). That type of offensive output was on display in the loss to Toledo with
 the team racking up 478 total yards, however a pair of interceptions and only
 two red zone trips kept the Bearcats from putting up more points.
 
 A bulk of the blame for the offense's inability to score falls on Munchie
 Legaux. The Bearcat quarterback threw for 227 yards and a touchdown, but
 completed a season low 41.7 percent of his passes and was intercepted twice.
 On the season Legaux has not been extremely efficient in completing passes
 (53.3 percent) but he has racked up a solid total of 1,435 yards and 12
 touchdowns to five interceptions.
 
 Legaux is also an integral part of the Bearcat run game, ranking second on
 the team in rushing yards (264) and rushing touchdowns (three). He ran for 66
 yards and a score against Toledo. George Winn (607 yards, 4 TDs) and Ralph
 David Abernathy (245 yards) have also been able to pick up yards on the
 ground. Abernathy had a season-high 98 yards against Toledo.
 
 In terms of catching the ball there is no real standout for the Bearcats.
 Kenbrell Thompkins leads the team in receptions (18), while posting 276 yards
 and a score. Travis Kelce has risen in the ranks in recent weeks with 165 of
 his team-high 286 yards coming in the last two games.
 
 Cincinnati's defense did its job against Toledo, holding the normally potent
 Rockets to 355 total yards and no offensive touchdowns.
 
 "If you would have told me that our defense would hold the explosive Toledo
 offense scoreless in terms of touchdowns, I would feel pretty confident that
 we would win the game," Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones said.
 
 Jones' squad has been rather adept in keeping teams off the scoreboard this
 season. Despite giving up a fair amount of total yards (352.7 pg) to opposing
 teams in part because of the pace its offense plays, the Bearcats have largely
 been able to limit opponents in scoring. Cincinnati is ranked second in the
 Big East in scoring defense (16.8 ppg).
 
 Greg Blair is the team's leader in tackles (54) and the only player to have
 reached the 50-tackle mark at this point in the season. Blair has also
 collected a pair of interceptions and has a team-high five passes defended.
 The Bearcats took a big loss earlier this month though in losing Walter
 Stewart, who is out indefinitely. Stewart had team-highs in tackles for loss
 (7.0) and sacks (5.0).
 
 Bridgewater has been the steady force for Louisville. The sophomore
 quarterback rarely seems to get rattled and thus far he has rarely made
 mistakes with the third-highest completion percentage in the nation (73.4). In
 the win over USF, Bridgewater led the Cardinals 75 yards in a little over a
 minute and a half before throwing the game-winning 11-yard touchdown pass to
 Eli Rogers with less than two minutes remaining.
 
 "When USF scored, Teddy (Bridgewater) told me we were good," Strong said. "If
 we protect the quarterback, Teddy will make the throws. If you protect Teddy,
 he has enough progression where he is down the field and he is always moving."
 
 That ability to go through his progressions is evident with a look at the
 Cardinals stat sheet, as eight different receivers have at least 11 catches
 this season. Leading receiver DeVante Parker (16 receptions, 337 yards) was
 slowed to just 18 yards against USF. So Bridgewater turned to Damian Copeland
 who caught a season-high five passes for 93 yards and a score.
 
 On the season Bridgewater has thrown for 1,694 yards and 11 touchdowns with
 only three interceptions.
 
 Passing is not all Bridgewater brings to the table as he can run when his
 passing lanes are clogged. His ability to take off with the ball was
 especially needed against USF as he had a team-high 74 yards on the ground
 with the normally potent combination of Senorise Perry and Jeremy Wright held
 to just 56 yards combined. Perry (588 yards, 10 TDs) and Wright (477 yards, 7
 TDs) have been the most productive rushing tandem in the Big East this season
 even with the struggles against USF.
 
 Louisville has not been an exceptionally productive defensive squad this
 season, ranking fourth in the Big East in both scoring (21.9 ppg) and total
 defense (339.0 ypg). The Cardinals have not been able to create a great deal
 of turnovers (10 total), while allowing teams to convert a conference-high
 45.5 percent of their third down attempts.
 
 Thus far that has not been a problem with how well the Cardinals dominate time
 of possession and limit other teams opportunities. Louisville leads the
 conference in the category with nearly 33 minutes of possession per game.
 
 The strength of the defense is in the secondary where safety Calvin Pryor (54
 tackles) and cornerback Hakeem Smith (39) rank first and third, respectively
 on the roster in tackles. The player to watch on the defensive line is Lorenzo
 Mauldin, who has a team-high 4.5 sacks.
 
 
 
 10/24 10:51:31 ET