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       === Louisville prepared for stern test against North Carolina ===
 
 Louisville, KY (Sports Network) - The 19th-ranked Louisville Cardinals attempt
 to climb up the national rankings in arguably the biggest test of the early
 season, as they take on the North Carolina Tar Heels at Papa John's Cardinal
 Stadium.
 
 Although the Tar Heels are just 1-1 they are a strong football team that
 lost in a tight road contest to ACC and instate rival Wake Forest last
 weekend. The decision came down to the last few minutes with the Demon Deacons
 adding the winning score with just over two minutes remaining. North Carolina
 suffered without lead rusher Giovani Bernard in the game and it is unclear if
 he will be available for this matchup, although head coach Larry Fedora is
 optimistic.
 
 "I don't think he will ever not be ready. He wants to be out there on every
 snap," Fedora said while adding how Bernard's absence effected the team,
 "There's no doubt (we missed him). You have a player of his caliber and is
 such a big part of what we do offensively."
 
 The Heels will really need every advantage they can get against Louisville,
 which has looked impressive through the first two weeks of the season. After
 posting a 32-14 rout of instate rival Kentucky, the Cardinals followed up
 with a decisive 35-7 win over Missouri State. Louisville is now 38-18
 against non-conference opponents since 2002. With the win the Cardinals
 moved up from No. 23 to the 19th-spot in the national polls.
 
 This game will give each side a chance to split a 3-3 tie in the all-time
 series. North Carolina won the last meeting 14-7 in a tight contest in
 Chapel Hill last season. The Cardinals won the two previous matchups before
 that loss.
 
 Currently North Carolina is ranked second in the ACC in scoring (44.5 ppg)
 but that is largely due to a 62-0 win over FCS opponent Elon in week one. In
 last weekend's loss to Wake Forest the Heels were held to a more pedestrian
 27 points on 428 total yards, which narrowly edged Wake Forest's production
 (426). The real difference in the game was in the red zone. While North
 Carolina twice settled for field goals in five trips, the Demon Deacons
 converted all four of their chances into touchdowns.
 
 Even without Bernard the Heels still relied heavily on the run with 42
 carries as a team. A.J. Blue filled in as the primary back with 106 yards on
 19 carries and a touchdown. Romar Morris also had a solid game with 71 yards
 and a score of his own.
 
 The passing game was also able to rack up yards thanks to a 23-for-39
 performance from Bryn Renner that netted him 271 yards and a touchdown,
 although he did throw a pick in the game.
 
 Just like the offense, North Carolina's defensive statistics this season are
 misleading due to the week one win. Currently ranked fourth in the ACC in
 points allowed per game (14.0), the Heels allowed 28 points to Wake Forest and
 could not make enough stops down the stretch to give the squad a win.
 
 The defense did play well on third down holding Wake Forest to just a
 4-for-12 effort, but failed to get consistent pressure with only one sack as a
 team.
 
 Tre Boston led the defense with 11 total tackles in the game and Kareem
 Martin racked up half of his tackles (five total) for loss.
 
 Louisville's offense has made a habit of executing long scoring drives so
 far this season. The Cardinals had four different scoring drives of at least
 eight plays and 70 yards in the win over Missouri State. In the previous
 game the Cardinals also had three similar drives, including a 15-play, 99-yard
 drive on the opening possession.
 
 Such consistent play has made Louisville the second-best offense in the Big
 East, in terms of yards per game (470.5), this season. At the helm is
 quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who has been sensational through the first two
 games. The sophomore currently ranks third in the nation in completion
 percentage (81.7) and is third in the Big East in passing yards. Bridgewater
 completed 30-of-39 passes for 344 yards and a pair of scores against Missouri
 State.
 
 "Teddy is doing a great job spreading the ball around," head coach Charlie
 Strong. He is looking down field, and he can feel the pressure, but does a
 great job getting rid of the ball."
 
 The Cardinals didn't rack up 475 yards of total offense in the game without
 some help from other players. Senorise Perry rushed for 73 yards to lead all
 ball carriers in the game and also punched on in for a score. Jeremy Wright
 played well in a backup capacity with 43 yards on 10 carries.
 
 Defensively, Louisville looked strong in the win, surrendering only 249 total
 yards and keeping Missouri State to just seven points. The defense also held
 the Bears to a 4-for-13 performance on third down and had to face Missouri
 State's offense just once in the red zone.
 
 Calvin Pryor had a team-high eight tackles and also recorded an interception
 in the game, while Hakeem Smith had six tackles including one for loss. As a
 team the Cardinals had only four tackles in the backfield.
 
 
 
 
 09/12 10:47:06 ET

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