As we approach the 5th game of the season for the 17th rated University of Louisville Cardinals, we're still waiting for them to put together 4 contiguous quarters of top ranked football. On Saturday, the Cards travel to Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg, Mississippi to take on the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles. To view the game, find a place that carries the CBS Sports Network because that's where it will be televised.
Expect this to be a comparison game. Last Saturday, Western Kentucky put a whipping on Southern Miss 42-17. If the Cards bring in a score less than that, or with a smaller point differential then the Hilltoppers may have reason to lay claim to being the top team in the state. The comparison is unfair, naturally, but that's football fans for you.
The young Cardinal team has had 4 games to grow past their freshmen and sophomore statuses. It's now time for Charlie Strong's kids to become the men of their potential because after this trip, they run into the teeth of their Big East schedule. That includes taking on a nationally ranked Rutgers squad as well as Cincinnati, who should be ranked by the time the Cards see them in October.
All of that means that against the Golden Eagles, Louisville has to get off to the quick start they showed in the Kentucky and North Carolina games. The running attack has to establish itself early in the game to keep quarterback Teddy Bridgewater out of situations where a forced pass leads to an interception as happened last Saturday.
On defense discipline needs to be enforced. Too many times big plays come from players flying in to make a tackle only to bite on a fake and leave the opponents receivers open for big gains or touchdowns. Southern Miss will use redshirt freshman quarterback Ricky Lloyd in his first start to run their offense. Just as other teams have found ways to exploit the Cardinal youth, this is the time for Louisville to do some exploiting of its own.
Most importantly, it's time for the Cards to show that they can finish games. North Carolina rattled them with their comeback. Florida International hung close. Now UofL must show their mettle. A 42-14 final score would do that.
Photo: Louisville.com/Tim Girton