Game Eleven: Louisville v. Memphis

The Cardinals close out their 2013 home schedule on Saturday when they host the Memphis Tigers on Senior Day.

Who: No. 21 Louisville Cardinals (9-1) vs. Memphis Tigers (3-6)

When: Saturday at noon

Where: Papa John's Cardinal Stadium

Series History: Louisville leads 23-19. Last meeting: 2010, 56-0 (Louisville)

About each team

** Louisville enters this weekend's game with on a three-game win streak, after defeating Houston last Saturday. Now ranked No. 21 in country, the 20-13 victory improved the Cardinals to 9-1 on the season. The team is currently second place in the American Athletic Conference.

** Winners of two straight, Memphis will travel to Louisville looking to pull the upset. The Tigers have struggled this season, picking up just one conference win in their five tries. The team has been competitive in their losses, though. Three of their defeats have come by seven points or less, including a 24-17 loss to No. 18 UCF on Oct. 5.

** 34-15 is the career record for Louisville head coach Charlie Strong entering the game with Memphis. A win on Saturday would give Strong his second consecutive season of double-digit wins.

** The Memphis football program is headed by Justin Fuente, who is in his second season as the Tigers' head coach. Memphis is the first stop for Fuente as a head coach. Before taking the job, he filled assistant positions at Illinois State and TCU. His career record as a head coach is 7-14.

Inside the Numbers

20.6 - Points per game allowed by the Memphis defense. The average ranks them in the nation's top 25.

41 - Yards allowed by the Cardinals in the second half against the Cougars. Houston gained 195 in all, but did next to nothing in the game's final two periods.

0 - Consecutive games with a touchdown pass for Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The junior's 21-game streak was snapped last week against Houston.

27 - Carries last time out for Louisville running back Dominique Brown. The Cardinals rode Brown's 137-yard, 2-touchdown performance to a third straight victory.

13-3 - Since 1990, the Cardinals have won 13 out of their 16 meetings with the Tigers. The teams were Conference USA foes until the Cardinals left for the Big East.

11 - The longest offensive scoring play this season for the Tigers is an 11-yard run by running back Jai Steib. The team has had plays of 63 and 45 yards that failed to reach the end zone.

20 - Saturday marks senior day for the Cardinals, who will honor 20 players before kickoff.

What to watch for

- The Cardinals picked up a win against Houston despite producing a season-low 20 points. The Cardinals leaned heavily on the run game, allowing the team to dominate time of possession (U of L's offense was on the field for 37:49 minutes, as opposed to Houston's 22:11). Earlier this week, offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said that the team isn't concerned with putting up impressive numbers, and likened their style of outscoring opponents to Alabama's Nick Saban. Watch to see if Watson and the Cardinals take a more aggressive approach this week.

- Memphis will undoubtedly enter the game with a replenished sense of confidence. After a winless October that saw the team drop four straight games to UCF, Houston, SMU, and Cincinnati, the Tigers have bounced back to pick up two straight wins. In the two wins against UT Martin and South Florida, the team has not trailed in seven quarters. Look for Memphis to attack Louisville with a "nothing-to-lose" mentality.

- Quietly, Memphis is as tough a defense as Louisville will or has faced this season. At 20.6 points per game, the Tigers are the No. 21 scoring defense in the country and are No. 12 in rushing defense. Memphis is allowing opposing backs just 3.2 yards per attempt, and has surrendered 13 rushing touchdowns on the season.

Keys to the game

- Because of Memphis' defensive strength, the Cardinals may be forced to throw the ball, which has rarely been Watson's preference this season. With the likes of DeVante Parker, Damian Copeland, Eli Rogers, and tight end Gerald Christian, the Cardinals have more than enough weapons to attack the Tigers through the air. But how long will it take this week until they're utilized? A solid run game is the engine to Watson's West Coast attack, but the Cardinals may need to change it up against one of the better run-stopping teams they've faced.

- Key for Louisville will be their defense, which, as the team's offensive point-production has sputtered, has carried them to victories. Although Memphis ranks 106th in passing yardage, the team has managed to find some productivity on the ground- rushing for 154.8 yards per game, which ranks No. 79 in the nation. In Brandon Hayes and Marquis Warford, the Tigers have a pair of running backs that have combined to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark on the season. Keeping Memphis from establishing a rhythm on the ground will help keep Louisville on the track to victory.

- During their current win streak, the Cardinals have been called for 27 penalties, resulting in a total of 256 yards. The penalties have been killers; stopping many U of L drives, and keeping many of their opponents‘ drives alive. Cleaning up the penalties will be key in helping the U of L offense score at a higher clip.

- Memphis' best shot to pick up a win on Saturday will be to score early against the Cardinals. So far, Houston is the only team this season to enter halftime with more than seven points against Louisville. For the Tigers to keep the game within reach, they'll have to capitalize on their early drives, as the Cardinal defense tends to stiffen as the game wears on.

Final word

Because of the Cardinals' lone loss to UCF, they are currently on the outside looking in on the BCS picture. Although the Cardinals still have an outside chance of making it to one of the country's most prestigious bowls, the coaching staff remains insistent that their focus is simply to win; regardless of style. "We're 9-1, so where we end up is our fault," coach Charlie Strong said after the team's win last week. We feel like we're (good enough to play in a) BCS (game) but if we don't get there we'll be comfortable wherever we go. If we end up with a great record, that's fine with me."

A win over Memphis on Saturday would give the Cardinals their second-straight 10-win season, which more than constitutes for a good record in the grand scheme of things. >{? Kickoff between the Cardinals and Tigers will take place at noon. The game will be broadcast locally by WHAS 11 and online via ESPN 3.

Staff predictions

Jody Demling: Cardinals get the win on Senior Day. 34-10.

Michael McCammon:The Tigers defense slows the Cardinals just long enough to make coaching staff open things up for a bit. Louisville wins going away 31-10.

Corey Goodlett: The Cardinals have the talent to route the Tigers, but expect the offense to stay conservative. Winning is all that matters to this coaching staff, and rightfully so. Cards win it, 27-7.


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