Louisville will begin the 2016 season as big favorites. The No. 19 Cardinals a 39-point favorite against their Thursday night opening foe Charlotte, which is in just beginning its second season as an FBS program.
LOCATION: Papa John's Cardinal Stadium (55,000)
DATE: Thursday, September 1
KICKOFF: 7:04 p.m.
RADIO: 840 WHAS AM; 790 WKRD; SIRIUS Ch. 132; XM Ch. 194
Play-by-Play: Matt Devlin
Analyst: James Bates
Reporter: Jenn Hildreth
- This is the first meeting between the programs.
- This is the first Thursday home-opener for Louisville since the Cardinals defeated Murray State 63-10 to begin the 2007 season.
- U of L is 31-4 all-time at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium while under the direction of Bobby Petrino.
- On game day, only two full-time U of L assistants will spend the game in the press box. Special Teams Coordinator/Inside Linebackers coach Tony Grantham and Secondary assistant Keith Heyward will track the game from upstairs while the rest will instruct from the sideline.
- Louisville returns 17 starters; 10 on offense, 7 on defense.
- Louisville, which has won four of its last five openers, is 53-38-6 all-time in season openers, including a 12-4 record since 2000. Petrino is 5-1 in openers at U of L. The Cardinals have won their last four home openers.
- U of L was a member of Conference USA for nine seasons (1996-2004) and have complied 61-54-1 record against current league members. Bobby Petrino was 17-3 against C-USA foes during his first tenure at Louisville.
- Head coach Brad Lambert has guided the Charlotte program since its inception in 2011.
- This is the first season in which Charlotte can be bowl eligible.
- The 49er's returns 17 starters from last season's 2-10 squad; 9 on offense, 8 on defense.
- Senior running back Kalif Phillips and senior defensive lineman Larry Ogunjob were both All-Conference preseason selections.
- Louisville is the first ACC and nationally-ranked opponent that Charlotte has faced.
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QB Lamar Jackson: Sophomore established new school rushing records for a quarterback in 2015, will look to throw more in 2016 and it'll start on Thursday night.
RB Brandon Radcliff: The Cardinals will look to establish a running attack early and Radcliff should get the first look. Radcliff led all U of L backs in 2015 with 634 yards and seven touchdowns.
DE Devonte Fields: The senior defensive end became more of a game-changer as the 2015 season and finished as the team's leader in tackles for a loss (22.5) and sacks (11). He's poised to surpass those numbers this fall and the Charlotte offensive front may not have the ability to contain him much.
S Josh Harvey-Clemson: Key figure in the U of L secondary who has the ability to move into a linebacker spot at times to play the rush.
DL Larry Ogunjobi: The senior has started all 34 games in school history and holds career records for tackles, tackles for loss and sack. He was second in C-USA last season with 14.5 tackles for a loss.
QB Kevin Olsen: First-year starting quarterback is a transfer from Riverside (Calif.) City C.C. He won the competition during spring drills.
RB Kalif Phillips: Senior running back has rushed for over 3,000 yards during his 49er's career.
Offensive Line: A number of veterans return and they'll need to have their best effort to date to slow down an aggressive U of L defensive front.
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Charlotte offensive lineman Jamal Covington: “We’re the guys who laid the foundation, and we’re looking to leave a legacy that’s going to last for the rest of this program’s history.”
Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino on Charlotte QB Kevin Olsen: "I can remember watching his video in high school, and talking to him on the phone recruiting. He’s a kid that I have a lot of respect for because I watched him so much in high school, and his ability."