The biggest test of the season for the 16th ranked University of Louisville football Cardinals takes place at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium Friday night at 8 as the visiting Cincinnati Bearcats try to spoil the Cards perfect season and win the 52nd annual battle for the Keg of Nails. The Bearcats perfect season ended last Saturday against underdog Toledo so look for them to play with a chip on their shoulder.
The game features two of the best quarterbacks in the Big East. Cardinal fans know the exploits of Teddy Bridgewater, including a cool as ice fourth quarter comeback against South Florida in their last game leading to some to think of the new nickname Teddy Icewater for him. Cincinnati’s Munchie Legaux thinks he’s better. He said so. While confidence is admirable in a starting quarterback, the Bearcat coaching staff may want to do some coaching in the public relations area. To compare yourself to the best quarterback in the Big East while you have accuracy problems of late is presumptuous at best.
Perhaps the confidence stems from their recent domination of the Cards. Cincy has won four straight over UofL, including their last two trips to Papa John’s. But, as other teams have found out during Louisville’s 7-0 campaign, these are different Cardinals. While this team isn’t blowing anyone away lately, they continue to find a way to win. Some games it’s the running game that comes up big. Some games Bridgewater uses his arm and his legs to point the team in the direction of the end zone.
Defensively, Louisville needs to play their best game of the season. The Bearcat receivers get open. The Cards need to cover while remembering their assignments. Too many times we’ve seen defensive backs go for interceptions without safety help over the top. It has led to big gains and touchdowns.
Both teams have something to prove. The Cincinnati loss last week dropped them out of the Top 25 completely. Some of that is the result of the national bias against the Big East. For the Cards, they need to keep winning or the same fate awaits them. Louisville should come out on top because if its high powered offense, but it will be another nail-biter. Prediction: Louisville wins 31-28.
Photo: Louisville.com/Tim Girton