U of L ranked higher; moving on to next foe

With the first game in the books after an impressive performance against Kentucky, the University of Louisville football program saw a rise in it's ranking this week. But the Cardinals are staying focused on Missouri State.

Sure, the University of Louisville opened the football season with an impressive 32-14 victory over rival Kentucky on Sunday in a game the Cardinals dominated.

But the 1-0 record and two straight wins against the Wildcats isn't what this U of L team is worried about. The Cardinals are focused on the future.

After bad losses to Marshall and Pittsburgh following big wins last season, U of L is trying to stay humble and hungry heading into this Saturday's game against Missouri State. The players left the locker room on Sunday with red and black shirts that said "Stay Hungry" on the front and "Stay Humble" on the back.

"We're hungry," sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said. "Like our shorts say, we're hungry but we also have to stay humble. It's a 24-hour thing after a win, when it's over we move on and get ready for our next opponent."

The Cardinals focus now is on Missouri State (0-1), a Football Championship Subdivision foe. The Bears lost to Kansas State 51-9 last week, allowing 324 yards.

The game is slated for 3:30 p.m. at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium and Strong said he's not going to let his team get too overconfident.

"You'd like to think we're more mature now," Strong said. "You'd like to think that now we've been through it, so we don't have to go through it again."

Senior center Mario Benavides, one of the teams leaders, said he believes the Cardinals are well aware of what can happen when you overlook a team, noting the loss to Marshall last season after beating UK.

"I think the guys are well aware of what can happen when you get too fat and happy," Benavides said. "I think everyone understands."

The victory did give the Cardinals a jump in the polls.

U of L went up two spots in the Associated Press poll to No. 23 and moved into the USA Today Coaches poll for the first time and is ranked No. 24.

But Strong said the focus is on improvement and moving on.

And the major improvement has to come on defense. UK had 373 total yards and converted on 7 of 13 attempts on third-down.

"I just expect more — maybe because I'm a defensive coach and I'm around the defense all the time, but we have to do a better job," Strong said. "I expect us to get off the field and to play better on defense. We have to get better at that."

The Cardinals head back to the practice field on Tuesday afternoon. Cardinal Authority will be on hand and have a full report from interviews after practice.

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