BCI Fearless Predictions Louisville

The Bearcats look to earn the Keg of Nails with a new high power offense and tough defense. Here is our "Fearless Prediction" for the clash against Louisville.

Game 7: October 13th vs. Louisville at Nippert Stadium


This is the game that more than any other on the schedule will gauge development of the UC program. Louisville has elevated itself over the past 3 seasons onto the national stage, yet last year UC was 16 yards away from an upset. The "Battle for the Keg of Nails" is a rivalry game that is almost always a tight hard fought game with an unpredictable outcome.


Last season found the Bearcat's knocking at the door at the end of the game with a chance for a huge upset, the Cards held on their own 16 yard line and walked out with the win and the keg. Brian Brohm was back after missing the previous 2 games with a thumb injury; he threw for 324 yards and 1 TD. The Bearcats stayed in the game by holding the U of L rush attack to 105 yards on the day while grinding out 212 themselves. Most of the yardage came from Greg Moore and scrambling by Dustin Grutza. In the air the Bearcats only completed 10 passes, but 2 were for touchdowns.


The biggest change for U of L since last year is the departure of Head Coach Bobby Petrino who left for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons. Taking over is Steve Kragthorpe who guided Tulsa to 3 bowl games in 4 seasons. When Kragthorpe took the job at Tulsa he inherited a team that had gone 2-21 the previous two seasons. He showed he could get the job done quickly by going 8-5 in his first season with a trip to the Humanitarian Bowl. At U of L the scene is much different, the Cards are 41 – 9 over the past 4 seasons fresh off a 12 – 1 2006 campaign and an Orange Bowl victory. By October any growing pains from the coaching transition should be in the past.


Louisville is loaded on offense, headed by Heisman trophy candidate Brian Brohm back for his senior seasons. Brohm will have one of the deepest and most talented groups of wide receivers in the country to throw to led by All Big East receiver Harry Douglas who caught 70 passes a year ago. The other big play receiver is Jr Mario Urrutia, at 6-6 he is a load who hauled in 66 receptions for 973 yards in 2006.


The running game will likely be a committee again in 2007. The leading rusher from last season Kolby Smith is gone but there are several capable backs led by George Stripling who rushed for 459 yards and five touchdowns. Sophomore Anthony Allen is also in the mix, he crossed the goal line 13 times.


The defensive line lost Amobi Okoye to the NFL along with DE Zach Anderson. In the back 7 the Cards will have to find replacements for 2 starters at linebacker and 3 from the secondary. The secondary loses includes superstar William Gay.


Why U of L will win this game?


Doug Goodwin: Louisville has done a great job in the recruiting department the last few years; they are a legitimate top ten team and have earned that recognition on the field. U of L lost several key players but should have the depth to fill in those gaps. No one can question U of L's ability to score points, but both UC and Rutgers help the Cards in check last year. This year Louisville will have to take care of the ball and keep pressure on the Cincinnati defense.


Defensively they will see a very different Bearcat team, the back 7 will need to step up and show they can do the job against the UC passing attack.


Dave Berk: While Mark Dantonio and his players carried nails in their pockets for two years wanting to win the Keg, it never happened.  This year will bring a possible air circus to Nippert Stadium and don't be surprised if this game is a sell-out.  As Doug stated the loss of several players from the Cards depth chart will have to be addressed early in the season.  It's too bad this is the seventh game of the season because the Cards should have any and all kinks ironed out.  The Cards will have to establish a running game that will make their passing game even more dangerous.  If yards are gained on the ground the talented pass catchers for the Cards are even better and the Bearcats defensive backs will be greatly tested.  Use the ground to set up the air is the key for a Cards on offense to win.


On defense the Cards will have to apply pressure to the quarterback and instead of stopping the ground game.  The play from the linebackers and defensive backs are the key as the passing attack of Brian Kelly will look take advantage of lapses from the db's.


What does UC have to do to win?


Doug Goodwin: Every season there are big upsets, this would be a huge one and the setting is right. Road conference games are tough for any team and Nippert will likely be sold out for this one. In the past U of L fans have made claims that 50% of the crowd are Cardinal fans, while Louisville travels well those statements have been greatly exaggerated and the crowd will be filled with Bearcat faithful looking for a win. Look for U of L to get their Big East mandated 4,000 tickets plus about 2000 more purchased thru UC.    


To get the upset the Bearcats must have a great day on defense like they did last year, Brohm was rusty in the 2006 game and it showed but he will be ready this time. Stopping the running game and getting in Brohm's face are mandatory. On offense 129 yards passing again won't get it done, expect UC to come out throwing to try and take advantage of the Cardinal secondary. If UC is to win this game look for Conner Barwin to have huge game, the match up with strong side LB Malik Jackson could make the difference.


Dave Berk: Play smart and keep the chains and clock running are the keys to a Bearcat victory in this one.  Yes, Louisville did lose a lot of talent but Bobby Petrino did a great job of recruiting and built a solid foundation for Kragthorpe to take over.  If the Bearcats want to win this game they've got to keep Brian Brohm off the field and standing on the sidelines looking at the cheerleaders.  Entering this game the Cardinals will have been tested and ready for Big East battles.  While many look at wide receiver Mario Urrutia as the key Brohm will look to, I feel tight end Gary Barnidge is a must to control as he can keep an offense on the field.


On defense the Bearcats must match what they did last year and keep pressure up front and limit the number of big plays deep.  Mike Mickens will be tested again and like last season he'll win more than he'll lose.


Doug's Prediction: This will be an exciting game with several big plays, but the U of L firepower will win out 38 – 31


Dave's Prediction: As many have said the best thing to happen to the Cards this past year is Brian Brohm staying for another season.  The Cards have talent with size and speed and this is the reason many feel they'll be playing in a BCS game at season's end.  The Bearcats will out pass the Cards but come up short on the scoreboard 48 – 34.


Bonus for Game 7:


Doug: As stated in the opening of this story, this is the perfect game to gauge for how much the Cincinnati program has improved under Coach Kelly both on the field and in the eyes of greater Cincinnati. UC will be very tough by week 7 and an upset isn't out of the question. Talent wise UC is probably a year away from having a team with the full Brian Kelly stamp on it but by now the fan base will be waking up to what the Bearcats are capable of and that is at least half the battle.


Dave: Will the Cards enter Nippert Stadium undefeated?  Many feel Kentucky will give the Cards a run for their money this year.  I don't see it happening and fully expect the Cards to enter having won hard fought games against North Carolina State and Utah while defeating the Cat's for the fifth straight time.  While many talk about the skill on the Cards roster it's the play they've received up front that has been the biggest improvement over the past few years.  Finding a replacement for offensive tackle Renardo Foster is the biggest question entering camp.

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