Louisville faces huge challenge at Rutgers

Third-ranked Louisville (8-0, 3-0) faces a great challenge on the road Thursday night against No. 15 Rutgers (8-0, 3-0) in another showdown of Big East unbeatens.

Four more game separate No. 3 Louisville from a likely date in the BCS national title game. Thursday night's road showdown against No. 15 Rutgers is the most immediate roadblock for the undefeated Cardinals journey to Glendale, AZ.

Coming off a huge 44-34 win last Thursday at home against West Virginia, Louisville now must become the first team in 62 years to beat two undefeated teams in back-to-back games in November to keep their BCS championship hopes alive.

Louisville will be looking for a fast start to quiet what is expected to be a raucous sold-out Rutgers crowd. Rutgers is also 8-0, and the game is being billed as the biggest in Scarlet Knight's history, much like the game Louisville played one week ago against the Mountaineers at home.

"I'm sure it's going to be a tight game and come down to the fourth quarter," Louisville's Bobby Petrino said. "And hopefully our experience will help us."

Louisville wants to get an early lead and force Rutgers sophomore quarterback Mike Teel to have to throw the ball down field to catch up. Boasting one of the country's top rushing attacks and a nationally-ranked defense, Rutgers wants to play ball control with running back Ray Rice, the third leading rusher nationally, and keep Brian Brohm and the explosive Cardinals offense off the field.

Which ever team wins that battle and is able to exert their will on the style of play likely will come out the winner of game.

"We need to try to get ahead of Rutgers and force them to throw the ball because they've made a big commitment to the run this year," Petrino said. "They use a lot of the power game. Rice is very powerful and built low to the ground and has the speed to go the distance. That's the major concern. We've got to try to slow him down in the first three yards. I think that's the key."

Rutgers enters the game with one of the nation's best defensive units. They've allowed only one team – USF – to score 20 points this season, and they've been outstanding against the run and the pass.

"Our offense has a tremendous challenge in front of them," Petrino said. "Defensively, they're very fast and play a very unique style. It will be a great challenge for us."

Amobi Okoye and the Louisville
defense must stop Rutger's
potent running attack.

After struggling through the month of October, Brohm and the Louisville offense seemed to find their groove last week against the Mountaineers. Brohm threw for more than 350 yards and one touchdown, while Kolby Smith and Anthony Allen provided a solid ground attack. Wide Receivers Mario Urrutia and Harry Douglas both had more than 100 yards receiving against West Virginia.

"I've always played better as the season goes on and hopefully I can continue that," Brohm said. "We know we have a lot to play for and that provides us motivation to go out and practice hard. We'll definitely be ready for this game and know that last year's game really doesn't matter."

Brohm said there's no chance Louisville will be overlooking Rutgers, a team the Cardinals defeated 56-5 last season. There is simply too much on the line for the Cardinals not to be ready for the challenge, especially coming from an undefeated team away from home.

"This is a huge game for both teams and the conference," Brohm said. "We're going to go into a hostile environment. I think there's always something to prove. We've got a couple big wins this season and this would be another one to get a huge road win at Rutgers. I think beating another undefeated team would prove a lot to a lot of people."

Louisville has been heavily scrutinized nationally since beating West Virginia, but Brohm said the Cardinals don't need any extra motivation against Rutgers.

"I don't think we need any extra motivation (because) the opportunity ahead of us to go undefeated provides plenty of motivation to our team," Brohm said. "There is still a lot of football to be played and we need to go play it. We've got to stay focused to finish this off the right way."

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