Cardinals hoping to remain road warriors

MIAMI - The University of Louisville football team has been at home for the first three weeks of the season. Now the Cardinals won't return to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium for a month. But the road has been good to U of L in recent years.

Most of the time in college football, home-field advantage is a big-time advantage for programs each Saturday.

But in recent years, the road has been better for the University of Louisville football team. The Cardinals have played better on the road in the first two years of the Charlie Strong-era.

"I'm not going to make any excused as to why we've been better on the road than at home, but I'm going to take it," senior center Mario Benavides said. "I really don't know what it is, but that's the way it's been."

And the Cardinals' hope it continues.

Louisville, which has won three consecutive home games for the first time since 2009, takes a 3-0 record on the road to face Florida International on Saturday night. The game will kickoff at 7 p.m.

"Football is football, no matter if you are at home or away," Andrew Johnson said. "Its football and it's all the same. We just have to go play."

The Cardinals are 8-5 under Strong on the road, including 1-1 in bowl appearances. U of L ended last season with three straight wins on the road, including at West Virginia, Connecticut and South Florida.

Strong said his team must continue to have success on the road and noted the team will have to be solid in every phase of the game.

"What's going to be critical for us is when we go on the road, we have to pack our defense," Strong said. "Defensively, we're going to have to play well. We have to play well in the kicking game. The thing the kicking game does is it changes the field position for us. We have to be disciplined and do what we're coached to do.

"Anytime you're on the road, it's all about your togetherness. It's us against them, so as a team, you have to play together. It's going to be a great challenge for us. The next month is going to be a really good challenge for us. We're going to see how strong of a football team we are and how well we can play away from home."

Louisville had better get used to life on the road.

The Cardinals play at Florida International on Saturday before traveling to Southern Mississippi the next week. U of L will then have a bye week before the Big East Conference opener at Pittsburgh on Oct. 13.

Louisville and Georgia are the only teams currently ranked in the top 25 that will play three consecutive weeks away from home.

"It's going to be a challenge for us," Strong said. "What's going to be critical during this time is that we maintain our focus, we maintain our emotion and we're going to have to play with confidence and compete. Every second has to count."

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