Louisville v Houston: Game Preview

Cardinal Authority provides a closer look at Louisville's home-opener against Houston on Saturday

Louisville (0-1, 0-0 ACC) vs. Houston (1-0, 0-0 AAC)
Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 • Noon
Papa John's Cardinal Stadium (55,000)
Series History: Louisville leads 8-7

TV: Fox Sports
Play by Play: Tom Werme
Analyst: Ovie Mughelli
Sideline: Niki Noto

About the Cardinals & Cougars:

  • The former conference foes will be meeting for the fi rst time since the Cardinals defeated the Cougars 20-13 at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in 2013.
  • Bobby Petrino is 2-0 as a head coach against Houston, winning 66-45 in 2003 and 65-27 in 2004.
  • Head coach Bobby Petrino is 5-0 in home openers during his career with the Cardinals.
  • Entering the 2015 home opener versus Houston, the Cardinals have won seven-straight home contests against non-conference opponent.
  • Houston is under the direction of first year head coach Tom Herman.  Herman arrived in Houston after spending the past three seasons serving as the offensive coordinator at Ohio State.
  • Houston defeated Tennessee Tech 52-24 in its season-opener last weekend.  The Cougars offense gained 621 yards, including 266 on the ground, in the win.
  • The Houston offense is led by Greg Ward, a dual-threat quarterback. He opened the season with his first career 100-yard rushing game with a team-high 107 yards and two TDs on 13 attempts vs. Tennessee Tech. He also threw for 275 yards and one TD on 21-of-28 passing.
  • The Cardinals offense will be led by its own dual-threat quarterback in freshman Lamar Jackson.  Jackson also led his team in rushing in week one, gaining 106 yards and a touchdown.  He also threw for 100 yards.
  • The Louisville receiving corp is a bit banged up, with Jamari Staples, James Quick and Alphonso Carter all out against Houston.  Freshmen receivers accounted for 70 percent of the team's receiving yards in the season-opener.
  • Safety Josh-Harvey Clemons leads the Cardinals with two interceptions and 14 tackles.
  • The Cougars rush attack features a duo - Kenneth Farrow and Ryan Jackson - that helped Houston to its most rushing yards (2,391) since 2007.
  • Houston was narrowly picked to finish second in the west division of The American Athletic Conference in a poll of the league's media.

For Houston to win...

  • The Cougars will need Greg Ward to be effective with both his legs and arm.  Ward, who has spent time as both a quarterback and receiver during his time in Houston, ranked ninth nationally in completion percentage in 2014, completing 67.3 percent of his passes, or 177-of-263 attempts.
  • Houston struggled on third down in its season-opener, converting just 31 percent (4 of 13).  The Cougars will need to improve.

For Louisville to win...

  • The Cardinals defense will need to remain focused.  The Houston offense likes to move fast and mix things up, so the Cardinals linebackers will be key to the team's defensive success on Saturday.
  • Houston allowed just 29 yards rushing in its opener, so the Cardinals will need to control the ground game early.
  • This appears to be an opportunity for Jackson to show off his throwing ability.  Houston gave up 312 passing yards to Tennessee Tech, including 12.9 yards per completion.

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