GAME EIGHT: Louisville at South Florida

The Louisville Cardinals visit South Florida for a noon kickoff at Raymond James Action. U of L looks to rebound following the team's first loss of the season.

Who: No. 18 Louisville Cardinals (6-1) vs. University of South Florida (2-4)
When: Saturday at Noon
Where: Raymond James Stadium
Series: Tied at 5-5

About each team

The No. 18 Louisville Cardinals are coming off their first loss of the season as they fell to Central Florida last Friday night. After building a 28-7 third quarter lead, the Cardinals failed to hang on as the Knights came back to score 24 unanswered points, and had their way with the U of L defense as they scored a touchdown in the last minute of the game to win 38-35. The defense looks to rebound from their disappointing second half performance as they gave up 446 total yards to the Knights. U of L hopes to improve to 3-1 in AAC play on Saturday with a much better performance this week.

The University of South Florida is coming of their second victory in a row as they defeated the Huskies of Connecticut 13-10 last Saturday. The Bulls (2-4, 2-0) currently sit atop the conference standings, tied with UCF and Houston. A victory over Louisville would make USF 3-0 in conference play for the first time in program history.

Louisville head coach Charlie Strong is now 31-15 overall at Louisville, and looks to bounce back after seeing the teams eight-game win streak snapped last weekend.

USF head coach Willie Taggart is entering his first season as the head coach of the Bulls. Taggart came from Western Kentucky, a place that lost 20 straight games before his arrival. After one year at WKU, Taggart managed to lead the Hilltoppers to two consecutive winning seasons that culminated in the school's first bowl appearance since rising to the FBS level. Taggart also played a key role in rebuilding the Stanford Cardinal into a winning program. In his first season as the Bulls head coach he looks to relish the role of the underdog as the No. 18 Cardinals come to town.

Inside the numbers

8 - The number of consecutive games the Cardinals had won going back to last season, before it was snapped by UCF.

10 - The number of spots the Cards fell in both USA Today and The Associated Press after losing their first game of the season.

14 - The original 14 members of USF's football program back in 1996 will be honored during the second quarter of Saturday's game.

89 - The rank of USF's defense in points allowed. They are allowing up 30 points per game.

125 - Both The University of Louisville and The University of South Florida have a combined 125 players from the state of Florida on their respective rosters.

1 - The number of turnovers the Bulls have committed in each of their first two conference games.

2 - The Cardinals are still only giving up eleven points per game which ranks them number two in the country.

20 - The number of passing Touchdowns University of Louisville junior Teddy Bridgewater has this season.

What to watch for

The Cardinals are coming off their first loss of the season after a giving up a season high 446 total yards of offense against UCF. The coaches and players have vowed all week how they are ready to turn the page on the loss, and look to only improve from here on out. This will be the Cardinals third road game of the season, having scored victories at Kentucky and Temple. It will be interesting to see how the defense responds after such a poor performance in their last outing. U of L needs to win out to keep stay within one game of the league leaders and BCS contention. That makes this game all that more important.

For the Bulls will need improved play from their defense if they want to pull off the upset. It's a defense that once ranked last in terms of turnovers, but have improved to 37th in recent weeks. Senior Bobby Evled will get the start this Saturday for the Bulls, as he has been applauded by the coaches for the way he has kept the bus on track during conference play thus far.

The Cardinals shouldn't struggle to put up points against the USF defense as they are giving up 30 point per game. U of L's talented group of receivers will help the offense stretch the field vertically. The running game should find success, too. The Bulls are giving up an average of 120 yards per game on the ground. Junior Dominique Brown, who is expected to get the start on Saturday, along with senior Senior Senorise Perry and junior Michael Dyer all could be in for a big day.

Keys to the Game

Louisville defensive coordinator Vance Bedford stressed that the UCF game is out of his mind and the quickly turned its attention USF. Junior defensive end Deiontrez Mount said that the defense is ready to make amends, and knows they have a true road test ahead of them as they prepare to head to Raymond James Stadium. The Cardinals are certain of one thing, and that is the Bulls will run the ball. It will be up to defense to prove they can stop it, which is something they struggled with against UCF.

Turnovers proved to fuel the comeback that was put together by UCF, as the Cardinals coughed up the ball twice, both leading to UCF touchdowns. The Cardinals must win the turnover battle to regain their winning ways.

Now that the offense is back at full strength they should be able to have success against the Bulls, considering they give 30 points per game. Look for DeVante Parker to continue playing well coming off of his recent injury. Starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater looks to spread the ball around to other receiver's as well like Sophomore Robert Clarke, and Senior Damian Copeland, and junior Kai De La Cruz to go along with Junior tight end Gerald Christian. The Cardinals come into this contest putting up 40 points per game.

Final Word

The Cardinals are now more than half way through the season, and must approach every game as a must win from here on out. The Cardinals must show their maturity, and the veteran leaders like Heisman candidate Teddy Bridgewater, must take charge of this team. It's crucial that last week's performance is behind them and that they come out energized and ready to play.

"We still have five to go, so let's go see how well we can come back and this game is behind us. We got to put this game to rest. There's no bingos in this game, so we can't go replay it and go re-do it, so let's go move on."

The defense did not fulfill it's part of the agreement last week against UCF, giving 38 points to go along with 446 total yards. Even though the offense still managed to put up 35 points, that proved not to be enough. The Cardinals must continue to improve in all phases of the game.

Staff predictions

Jody Demling - Louisville cruises in Tampa. Cardinals win 34-13.

Michael McCammon - Louisville rebounds in a big way. Cardinals dominate both sides of the ball. 38-7.

Ryan Marchand - The Cards bounce back strong with the team clicking on all cylinders both offensively and defensively and they get their second shutout of the season 42-0.

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