Game day: U of L vs. North Carolina

The University of Louisville football team is just a few hours away from its biggest test of the young season. The Cardinals (2-0) will host North Carolina at 3:30 p.m. in Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium. The game will be televised on ABC. Be sure to come to Cardinal Authority before, during and after the game for all of the latest.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Louisville (2-0)

So, far it's been a solid start for the Cardinals.

U of L dominated Kentucky in the opener and rolled over Missouri State 35-7 last week with sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater playing sensational. The offense is averaging 470.5 yards a game, including 175 on the ground.

Bridgewater is completing 81.7 percent of his throws and is averaging 288 yards through the air. He has two touchdown passes and no interceptions.

"This is a great test for us," U of L coach Charlie Strong said. "We have an outstanding challenge coming up this weekend, and what we need to do is keep improving as a football team."

It's the third consecutive game the U of L defense will be facing a team that runs a no-huddle offense. The Cardinals are allowing just 10.5 points a game.

Safeties Calvin Pryor and Hakeem Smith lead the Cardinals in tackles, while linebacker Preston Brown has come up huge. U of L only has three sacks for a loss o 24 yards because of the hurry-up offensive attacks.

North Carolina (1-1)

The Tar Heels are coming off a 28-27 loss to Wake Forest and head into the game against the Cardinals without All-ACC running back Gio Bernard. He did not make the trip with the team and will miss his second straight game with a knee injury. A.J. Blue and Romar Morris will try to carry the load against a U of L defense that hasn't allowed over a 100 yards rushing in either game.

North Carolina will boast one of the best offensive lines in the country. The line has allowed only two sacks this season and has a combined 101 career starts. Guard Jonathan Cooper will be making his 38th career start, which is the most of any active offensive lineman in the ACC. Tackle James Hurst has made 27, guard Travis Bond 19, tackle Brennan Williams 16 and center Russell Bodine four.

Quarterback Bryn Renner has completed 37 passes and hit 13 different receivers during the first two games of the season.

The Tar Heels will play and up-tempo, no-huddle offense. The defense is allowing 298 yards a game, including just 53 yards rushing.

THE SERIES

The Cardinals and the Tar Heels will meet for the seventh time on Saturday, including North Carolina's 14-7 win last season in Chapel Hill, N.C.

The series is tied at 3-3 but U of L has won two of the last three meetings.

The Cardinals are 1-1 in Louisville, including 69-14 in 2005.

QUICK FACTS

LOUISVILLE

**The Cardinals are now 38-18 against non-conference foes since the 2002 season, including 8-6 during the Charlie Strong-era.

**U of L was just 6-7 in the first two years of the Strong-era at home but back-to-back wins to open the season makes the Cardinals' now 8-7.

**The Cardinals have won back-to-back home games for just the second time since Strong took over. The first was last year against Rutgers and Syracuse.

**U of L is looking to go 3-0 for the first time since 2006. The Cardinals opened the season 8-0 during that season.

NORTH CAROLINA

**On special teams, the Tar Heels rank first in the ACC in punting (42.0 net) and second in punt return average (24.0). Casey Barth has made all four field goals and all 11 extra points. Punter Tommy Hibbard is second in the league with a 44.4 yard average and Roy Smith is second with a 17.2 yard punt return average.

**North Carolina leads the ACC and is sixth nationally with 20 tackles for a loss, totaling 55 minus yards. Kareen Martin has the most on the team with three.

**Tailback A.J. Blue has 145 yards rushing through the first two games, including 106 against Wake Forest. He had 171 career yards going into the season.

**North Carolina had ten different that were named to a national award watch list during the preseason.

KEY INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

LOUISVILLE

**QB Teddy Bridgewater (49 of 60 passing, 576 yards, 2 TDs).

**RB Senorise Perry (35 rushes, 180 yards, 2 TDs).

**RB Jeremy Wright (32 rushes, 148 yards, 3 TDs).

**WR Damian Copeland (8 catches, 92 yards).

**S Calvin Pryor (17 tackles, 1 interception).

NORTH CAROLINA

**QB Bryn Renner (37 of 60 passing, 507 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs).

**RB A.J. Blue (28 rushes, 145 yards, 2 TDs).

**WR Erik Highsmith (8 catches, 115 yards).

**CB Jabari Price (13 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, 1 INT, 3 break ups).

WHO WILL GET THE WIN

LOUISVILLE WINS IF . . .

The Cardinals continue to show balance on offense and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has another one of his games. The defense also has to limit North Carolina from making many big plays and keep the up-tempo, no-huddle attack from the Tar Heels from getting on track.

NORTH CAROLINA WINS IF . . .

The Tar Heels do a better job that it did last week on defense but more importantly control the game with their up-tempo, no-huddle offense. If the Tar Heels uses the screen game to set up a few shots down field – and they do connect – then it could be a long day for the U of L defense.

FRIENDLY FOES

U of L coach Charlie Strong and UNC coach Larry Fedora not only played against each other – the 2010 Beef O'Brady's Bowl – but coached on the same staff.

The two coaches worked together at the University of Florida in the early 1990s. Fedora was at Southern Miss two years ago when U of L won the bowl game.

"Dan Disch, their defensive coordinator, was also with me at the University of Florida and does a great job," Strong said. "They are very aggressive on defense and very solid in the kicking game, so this will be a great test for our program."

BOTTOM LINE

U of L head coach Charlie Strong: "When you have a nationally ranked team, you like to say that you are a junior-senior team. When you have a team you think is going to compete for championships, you would like to have a junior-senior team. We have only nine seniors, so we are still young, still maturing, and still growing. I really do not know what we are right now. If you look at us from week to week we still have a lot of growing up to do."

JODY DEMLING'S PICK

Louisville 31, North Carolina 21

ENJOY THE GAME!


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