Cards in search of first Big East win

Saturday at noon the Keg of Nails will be on the line when rivals Louisville and Cincinnati meet for the 45th time

Prior to the start of the 2005 season, first-year Big East Conference members Cincinnati and Louisville were picked at the opposite ends of the league's preseason poll. The Cardinals garnered 23 of 24 first place votes and was the clear favorite to win the conference crown, while Cincinnati was picked to finish last.

However, six games into the season and Louisville (4-2,0-2) finds itself looking up at Cincinnati (3-3,1-1). While the Cardinals play at home has been impressive, it's performance on the road has been less than desirable.

"We need to concentrate on the Cincinnati game and win the Cincinnati game and not think about one other thought," said U of L head coach Bobby Petrino about the urgency of claiming the team's first league win.

Despite being on the road, the Cardinals enter Saturday's noon matchup at Nippert Stadium as a 22-point favorite and face a Bearcat squad that has improved each time out.

"They looked good," Petrino said about Cincinnati's 28-17 win over UConn last Saturday. "They ran the ball well. They have three good running backs and two of them we played last year."

The Bearcats, who have won six consecutive home contests, are averaging just over 150 yards on the ground per game, while also gaining 195 yards through the air.

"They are going to try to run the ball at us. They like the full back that they have and they like their big running back. They are a physical team, so we are going to have to shut down their run and try to force them to throw the ball."

Montrell Jones had two TD
receptions against UC in '04

Defensively, Cincinnati is young, but improving.

"They have some young guys on defense," said Petrino. "They played much better last week and made a lot of plays against Connecticut."

Last weekend the Bearcat defense, which currently ranks last in total defense among conference members, registered 6 sacks and forced four turnovers in the win.

However, Petrino said the key to Louisville's success on Saturday is for the offense, which is currently tops in the Big East Conference, to continue to produce both on the ground and through the air.

"Offensively we are going to have to do both - run the ball and throw the ball," he said. "We are down a few guys and that's the thing that is a concern to me."

Louisville has won six of the last seven meetings between the two programs, including a 70-7 win at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium last fall.

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