Louisville - West Virginia game notes

The battle of two top five and undefeated Big East Conference foes on Thursday night will match two of the hottest teams in the country. The Cardinals and Mountaineers both rank among the nation's leaders in most statistical categories.

#3 West Virginia (7-0, 2-0) at #5 Louisville (7-0, 2-0)

November 2, 2006 | 7:30 p.m.

Papa John's Cardinal Stadium

840 WHAS | ESPN

The game that everyone immediately circled when the 2006 University of Louisville football scheduled was released has finally arrived. The national pundits have been talking about the Louisville - West Virginia game since the preseason talk shows began months ago. More than 700 media credentials have been granted for Thursday night's game. The level of excitement for a college football game in the Derby City has reached new heights and rightfully so.

With both the Cardinals and Mountaineers in the top five of the latest Bowl Championship Series, Thursday nights game at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium not only has Big East title implications, but could also serve as a springboard into the BCS Championship game.

QUOTES

Louisville Head Coach Bobby Petrino

On keeping his players focused on the game and not the hype: "I think they know how to. They have been in big games already - last year against West Virginia, in the bowl game and this year's Miami game. It's not like it's new to us, because we have a lot of experience. I think our players know how to prepare for it."

On last year's game as a motivating factor: "You try to forget things that happen to you that you have no control over. Certainly our players understand what is at stake here. We just have to get ready for this football team, try to slow down their great players and try to score some points."

West Virginia Head Coach Rich Rodriquez

On the game: "It's obviously a big game with a lot of national and Big East implications. It's a very important game, but they are all important. They all count as one and we have always taken that approach since they day I got here."

NOTES

SERIES NOTES

  • West Virginia holds a 6-1 advantage in the series.
  • The first game between the two schools happened on September 8, 1984.
  • The last three meetings between the two programs have all been decided by two points.
  • Louisville's only win in the series came in 1990 when the Cardinals defeated the Moutaineers 9-7 in Morgantown.
  • STREAKING

  • The Cardinals own the second-longest home winning streak with 15 straight wins at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. USC leads the nation with 30 consecutive home wins.
  • Louisville's 7 game winning streak is tied for fifth longest in the nation, while West Virginia's 14 straight victories is the second longest streak in the nation. Ohio State has won 15 straight.
  • The two schools are also among the top five for conference winning streaks. West Virginia has won 9 straight Big East games, while Louisville has won 7 straight.
  • WVU has won 9 consecutive road games, which includes five conference wins.
  • EVEN MORE NOTES...

  • With each win U of L head coach Bobby Petrino has continued to climb the list of the nation's winningest active coaches. With a .818 winning percentage, Petrino is now tied with Florida's Urban Meyer for third and trails only USC's Pete Carroll (.845) and Miami's Larry Coker (.829).
  • U of L is 7-0 for the first time since 1925 when the Cardinals finished with a perfect 8-0 record.
  • LOUISVILLE

    • Junior wide receiver Harry Douglas is one of the smallest wideouts in the country, but he continues to be one of the most productive. With six more receptions against Syracuse, Douglas leads the Cardinals with 35 receptions for 520 yards, which is tied with Mario Urrutia for the team lead. He ranks 40th in the country in receptions per game and leads the BIG EAST Conference with an average of 5.0 per game. Douglas is also one of the most productive players in the nation in creating first downs, as 21 of his 29 receptions have gone for first downs. His 29 receptions are a new career-high and needs just 10 yards to reach a new careerbest.
    • Junior Gary Barnidge, who quietly has had a solid career, caught just one pass against Syracuse, but it did extend his streak of consecutive games with a catch to a team-best 14.
    • Louisville is the best red zone defensive unit in the Conference, allowing the opposition to score on just 52.9 percent of their attempts. Opponents have been inside the Cardinals' 20-yard line 17 times, but have scored just nine times and have been limited to just five touchdowns. Louisville has caused a league-high three fumbles in the red zone.

    • TE Gary Barnidge
    • Louisville is one of only three teams in the country averaging over 7.0 yards per play. The Cardinals are second in the country, averaging 7.41 yards per play, which is second to Hawaii, which leads the nation at 7.99 yards a snap and league-foe West Virginia is third at 7.26.
    • The Cardinals have been one of the most successful teams in the red zone this season, converting on 34-of-37 trips inside the opponents 20-yard line (91.9 percent). The Cardinals are second in the BIG EAST Conference in red zone offense and are first with 25 red zone touchdowns, including 21 on the ground. Louisville has gone 16-for-17 in the last two games, but have kicked six field goals.
    • Louisville is tops in the country in sacks per game. Louisville averages 4.14 sacks per game and is coming off a seven-sack performance in the 28- 13 win over Syracuse. Louisville has 28 sacks and 14 different players have contributed at least 0.5 sacks for the year.
    WEST VIRGINIA

    • The rushing trifecta of Steve Slaton, Patrick White and Owen Schmitt has rushed for a combined 1,859 of WVU's 2,233 total ground yards through seven games. Those three have accounted for 83.3% of the Mountaineer ground attack thus far this season. Slaton by himself has accounted for 47.4% of the Mountaineer rushing attack.
    • No quarterback in the country has rushed for more yards since the start of the 2005 season then WVU's Pat White.
    • Averaging 151.3 yards per game, Steve Slaton reached the 1,000-yard mark for a season faster than any back in Mountaineer history.
    • Through seven games, West Virginia has trailed its opponent for only 1:47 in 360 minutes of action.
    • For the 2006 season, the Mountaineers have converted 38-74 third-down attempts for a 51.3% average. Their opponents have converted on 39- 97 attempts for a 40.2% average. On fourth down, WVU is 3-4 (75%); the WVU opponents are 8-14 (57%) in that statistic.
    • West Virginia is outscoring its opponents in all four quarters in the 2006 season. The Mountaineers have scored 80 points in the first quarter compared to 14 for their opponents; it took until game four for an opponent to get on the board in the first quarter. The second quarter shows West Virginia with a 79-37 scoring advantage. WVU has a 65-10 lead in the third quarter, and the Mountaineers outscore their opponents 62-28 in the fourth. Overall, the Mountaineers are outscoring their opponents 286-89 for a 40.9-12.7 average.

     

    STATISTICAL COMPARISON

      Louisville West Virginia
    Rushing Offense 216.0 319.0
    Passing Offense 280.1 140.3
    Total Offense 496.1 459.3
    Scoring Offense 38.7 40.9
    Rushing Defense 74.9 89.3
    Passing Defense 209.7 182.1
    Total Defense 284.6 274.1
    Scoring Defense 12.6 12.7
    Turnover Margain -0.43 +0.86
    Sacks/Game 4.14 2.00

    ITV PREDICTION

    Looking at this game on paper and it has the makings of an instant classic. U of L and WVU both enter the game boasting of having a team that ranks among the nation's best in nearly every statistical category. Both programs can light up the scoreboard offensively, but they also have stingy defensive squads.

    Louisville, winner's of 15 straight at home, will have plenty of crowd support, making things difficult for the WVU offense which will be facing it's toughest challenge of the season.

    U of L head coach Bobby Petrino has the talent to run a balanced attack against WVU and if they can stop their recent turnover trend, the Cardinals will move the ball effectively against the Mountaineers. Defensively, the Cardinals will be the fastest squad the very dangerous Mountaineer offense has faced all season and it will be a critical factor in their attempt to limit Steve Slaton and Pat White.

    Just as it has the past three meetings, this game will come down to a late fourth quarter possession. Louisville wins a game that lives up to the hype.

    Cardinals 33 Mountaineers 31.


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