Cards v. Bearcats Preview

News, notes, quotes and stats previewing the Cardinals visit to Cincinnati.

Louisville at Cincinnati
November 28, 2003 | 11:00 a.m.
Nippert Stadium
espn 2 | 840 WHAS


Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino

Coach Petrino (ITV)

On Cincinnati:  "They look good on video. Defensively, their linebackers are very good. Their defensive front is real active. They have two defensive ends that are kind of light, but they're really active and real fast. We'll have to do a good job of covering up the linebackers. We're going to have to do a good job of blocking their defensive ends in the passing game. Offensively, they have had their struggles at times. Sometimes they look really good, but they've just been inconsistant. We're going to have to make sure that we shut them down, because I think it'll be a lot more difficult for our offense than it was [against Houston].  This week we are going up to Cincinnati and hopefully bring a Keg of Nails back."

Cincinnati head coach Rick Minter

On Louisville:  "Bobby Petrino is a heck of a coach. When he was at Louisville before, he used a one-back system. Then he was an assistant in the NFL and learned the value of protection. They use a multi-personnel system. They are a solid-looking group of skilled guys"

On the Bearcat defense:  "This is the best defense we have played since '97, but we didn't get any back-up with a smooth offense and a good kicking game this year. It's frustrating to know that we are playing this good and just not getting the job done offensively"

(Click here to read Coach Minter's entire weekly press conference.)



Cards carry the Keg of Nails 

Louisville and Cincinnati will be meeting for the 44th time in the history of the series.  The two teams will compete for a Keg of Nails, which symbolizes that the winning team is "tough as nails."  Despite falling to the Bearcats 24-14 last season, Louisville has won four of the last five meetings.  Cincinnati holds a 26-16-1 series lead.







  • With the 779 yards of offense last Saturday, the Cardinals are now sixth in the country in total offense, averaging 485.2 yards a game. The rushing offense, which was held to a season-low 57 yards against Memphis, stands 13th in the country at 219.45 after the 445 yards the Cards amassed on Saturday. The Cardinals rank in the top 20 nationally in two other categories — scoring offense (17th) and turnover margin (15th).

  • By securing its sixth win of the season with a 47-28 win over Tulane on October 17, Louisville became bowl eligible for a school record sixth straight year. Louisville is one of just 18 programs that have gone to bowls in each of the last five years.

  • Tight end Ronnie Ghent has now had at least one reception in 36 straight games.
  • J.R. Russell is having an All-American type season.  He leads the Cardinals in receptions (62 ) and yards (958). The 62 receptions are the ninth most in season at Louisville and the 958 yards are the sixth most.  He needs just 42 yards to become the sixth player school history to record 1,000 yards receiving in season.  He became the 12th player to record 100 career receptions. He has 100 receptions for 1,396 yards. He recorded his fourth 100-yard receiving game, which is tied for the fifth-most in a season and tied for the sixth-most in a career.  He has caught a pass in 22 straight games.
  • Louisville has been outstanding on its first drive of the game, scoring a touchdown on five occasions and kicking a field goal one other time. The Cardinals also have scored a touchdown or a field goal on the first or second drive of every game this season.

  • Lionel Gates (AP)
  • The Cardinals have rushed for 2,414 yards this season, which is the fourth-highest total in school history. The team is averaging a school-record 5.4 yards per carry and have their two primary running backs averaging over 5.0 yards a carry. Michael Bush has run for an average of 5.7 yards a carry, while Lionel Gates is averaging 5.2 yards a tote. Injured back Eric Shelton is just under the 5.0 mark at a respectable 4.8 yards an attempt.

  • Louisville has scored 379 points in 2003, which is the fourth-largest output in school history and the most since the 2000 team scored 388. The Cardinals need just 66 points to break the school record of 444 points during the 1998 season, which was Bobby Petrino's lone season as the team's offensive coordinator. The 34.5 points per game currently ranks as the fifth-highest in school history.

  • First-year head coach Bobby Petrino did something only one coach at Louisville has been able to do — win eight games in their first season. Petrino joins Tom King as the only other U of L coach to win eight games in their first year. King guided the Cardinals to a perfect 8-0 record in 1925.


  • UC is No. 18 in total defense, surrendering an average of 315.5 yards per game.
  • The Bearcats are ranked No. 33 in rushing defense, averaging of 128.9 yards per game.
  • Cincinnati has held six opponents to fewer than 300 yards in total offense this season. Army (138), Southern Miss (200), East Carolina (205), West Virginia (243), USF (268) and TCU (298).

  • Gino Guidugli (AP)
  • Every time Gino Guidugli throws a pass, he sets a new Cincinnati career record. The junior quarterback has broken all of the UC career passing and total offense records.

  • Cincinnati has been penalized 40 times for 414 yards over its last five contests.

  • The University of Cincinnati entered the season having recorded the 17th-most sacks since the 2000 season. Cincinnati recorded 106 sacks during that span, and has added 23 to that total this season.
  • The Bearcats had the 13th-most interceptions, from 2000 through the 2002 campaign with 69. UC has made 18 interceptions in 2003.

  • UC is 4-1 at home this season, while being just 1-5 away from Nippert Stadium.
  • Cincinnati is last in Conference USA is scoring offense.


Rushing Offense 219.5 161.6
Passing Offense 265.7 218.6
Total Offense 485.2 380.2
Scoring Offense 34.5 23.9
Rushing Defense 162.7 128.9
Passing Defense 240.6 186.6
Total Defense 403.3 315.5
Scoring Defense 24.7 25.1
Net Punting 35.7 32.2
Punt Returns 9.6 9.5
Kickoff Returns 20.4 18.8
Turnover Margain +9 -3


In addition to the external distractions that the players will most likely still hang ringing throughout their minds, the Cardinals will face a difficult test in the Bearcats.  It's Louisville's offense versus Cincinnati's defense.  Cincinnati plays well at home, with their only loss being a 2-point defeat against C-USA leader Southern Miss.

The Bearcat defense is strong against the pass, which will force Coach Bobby Petrino to be creative, in a similar fashion as the TCU game.  Expect the Cardinals to attempt to establish a ground attack to open up more passing lanes.  Quick out patterns to Russell and screen plays to Ronnie Ghent and Lionel Gates should occur frequently.  The Cardinal rushing attack may not have an individual rusher go over 100 yards in the game, but the team will accumulate enough rushing yards to keep the UC defense honest.

Offensively, the Bearcats have been very inconsistent.  Louisville increased pressure defensively against Houston and I anticipate that the trend will continue.  Bearcat quarterback Gino Guidugli could throw an interception or two if he feels consistent pressure from the Cardinal defense.

Louisville plays the spoiler on Cincinnati's Senior Day....Cardinals 31 Bearcats 17.

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