#3 Louisville v. #14 Rutgers: Notes & Numbers

Big East Conference and Bowl Championship Series title hopes are on the line for the third-ranked University of Louisville Cardinals on Thursday night. No. 14 Rutgers (8-0, 3-0) will host the undefeated Cardinals.

#3 Louisville (8-0, 3-0) at #14 Rutgers (8-0, 3-0)

November 9, 2006 | 7:30 p.m.

Rutgers Stadium | Piscataway, N.J.

840 WHAS | ESPN

Fresh off it's impressive 44-34 win over a then third-ranked West Virginia last Thursday night at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, the No.3 Louisville Cardinals will have to perform on an even more difficult stage tonight when they face undefeated Rugters.

The Cardinals will square off against the second best defensive squad in the nation and an offense that has made a habit of running the ball over it's opposition, and will do so in front of a Scarlet Knights home crowd that is expected to set a new school attendance record.

Toss in the fact that the game will be played in front of an ESPN national audience and the stage couldn't get much bigger for a regular season game.

SERIES NOTES

  • Rutgers holds a 4-1 advantage in the series.
  • The Cardinals won the last meeting 56-5 at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in 2005.
  • U of L is making it's first trip to Piscataway, New Jersey since the 1984 season.
  • Rutgers is 0-1 when facing a ranked Louisville team.
  • NOTEWORTHY

  • Louisville is facing it's second-straight ranked opponent and third this season.
  • On the strength of an eight game winning streak, U of L head coach Bobby Petrino has rapidly surpassed a handful of coaches this season and is currently the second winningest active head coach in Division I. Petrino's 82.2 winning mark trails only USC's Pete Carroll's 84.7. Petrino has moved past Urban Meyer (Florida), Bob Stoops (Oklahoma), Larry Coker (Miami), Mark Richt (Georgia) and others during the current win streak.
  • The eight straight wins is the third longest in U of L history. The longest - 10 wins - was achieved in 1925-26, while the 2004-05 teams claimed nine consecutive wins. The eight game streak is the nation's fourth longest active winning stretch.
  • The Cardinals are attempting to become the first team in school history to begin a season with a 9-0 record.
  • Louisville's eight game conference winning streak is the nation's third longest such feat in the country, trailing only Texas (18) and Ohio State (10).
  • U of L is searching for it's seventh straight road win.
  • PLAYER NOTES

    LOUISVILLE

    • Running back duo Kolby Smith and Anthony Allen picked up a lot of the slack against West Virginia last Thursday. The duo rushed for 120 yards on 25 carries and two scores. Smith led the Cardinals with 13 carries for 73 yards and Allen ran for 47 yards and two touchdowns. Smith leads the Cardinals with 524 yards rushing, which is a new career-best.
    • Senior cornerback William Gay is making a push for first team All-Conference accolades and possibly All-America accolades. Gay recorded his team-leading third interception in the win over Syracuse. He's fourth on the team with a career-high 35 tackles and is tied for the team lead in pass break-ups with seven. He's also third on the team with six tackles for loss and a pair of sacks.
    • Junior quarterback Brian Brohm, in just 27 games, became the seventh U of L quarterback to throw for 5,000 yards in a career.
    • Junior Mario Urrutia produced his sixth 100- yard receiving game and third this season with six catches for 113 yards in the win over West Virginia. Urrutia is second on the team in receptions (33) and yards (633), but does have a team-high five touchdowns. The 6-6 Urrutia averages 20.4 yards per catch for his career, which is tops among active NCAA wide receivers.
    • The Louisville defense has been one of the best in the nation in red zone defense this season.

      LB Nate Harris had a season-high
      8 tackles against West Virginia
      The Cardinals have the best red zone defensive unit in the Conference, allowing the opposition to score on just 59.1 percent of their attempts. Opponents have been inside the Cardinals' 20-yard line 22 times, but have scored just 13 times, but have been limited to just nine touchdowns. Louisville has caused a leaguehigh three fumbles in the red zone.
    • 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 7.48 yards per play.
    • Louisville is No. 1 in the country in sacks per game. Louisville averages 3.88 sacks per game Louisville has 31 sacks and 14 different players have contributed at least 0.5 sacks for the year. Amobi Okoye and Malik Jackson lead the team with five sacks apiece.
    RUTGERS

    • In four of Rutgers eight games in 2006, the Scarlet Knight defense has held the opposition to under 200 yards of total offense.
    • Rutgers is outscoring its opponents 58-7 in the first quarter of play in 2006. The only team to score vs. Rutgers in the opening period of play was Ohio in the third game of the season. The Bobcats took advantage of a RU turnover deep in its own territory for the 17-yard scoring drive.
    • Ray Rice has quickly developed into one of the top running backs in the nation and has put himself into contention for the Heisman Trophy. Rice, who rushed for 1,120 yards as a true freshman in 2005 - the fifth-best mark among true freshmen backs in the nation last season - has recorded six 100-yard games this season, including three 200-yard performances.
    • Fullback Brian Leonard is second among active players in the NCAA in all-purpose touchdowns with 42. Leonard has 29 career rushing touchdowns and 13 receiving touchdowns.
    • The Rutgers defense ranks sixth nationally and second in the BIG EAST with 3.4 sacks per game in 2006. The Scarlet Knights posted a season-high seven sacks at Navy (Oct. 14). Since Greg Schiano took over as the team's defensive coordinator, RU has posted 77 sacks in 20 games. RU's defensive line has combined for 21 of the team's 30 sacks in 2006, led by sophomore DE Jamaal Westerman's six sacks.
    • Mike Teel has been consistent in the most important statistic for quarterbacks - winning games. As a starter at Rutgers and Don Bosco Prep, Teel is 33-1 as his team's starting quarterback. Teel was 23-0 at Don Bosco, including back-to-back state championships. At Rutgers, Teel is 10-1 as the Scarlet Knights' starting QB.

     

    STATISTICAL COMPARISON

      Louisville Rutgers
    Rushing Offense 203.2 193.4
    Passing Offense 289.4 128.1
    Total Offense 492.6 321.5
    Scoring Offense 39.4 29.2
    Rushing Defense 105.2 92.1
    Passing Defense 211.2 135.2
    Total Defense 316.5 227.4
    Scoring Defense 15.2 9.1
    Turnover Margain -1 +0.75
    Sacks/Game 3.88 3.75

    ITV PREDICTION

    In addition to facing a very stingy defense and potent running attack, the third-ranked Cardinals will also have to overcome the pressure of with BCS title implications on the line and the overflow crowd at Rutgers Stadium.

    Bobby Petrino still has plenty of plays in his book that have yet to surface during the 2006 season and he shouldn't have to introduce many of them against the Scarlet Knights. Despite facing the second-ranked defense in the country, the Cardinal offense has enough weapons that it shouldn't have too much trouble scoring enough points to win the ball game.

    The Cardinal defense will do it's part once again. This week it's task is to limit the success of standout Rutgers running back Ray Rice, as well as the always dangerous fullback Brian Leonard. The defense won't stop the 1,200-yard rusher, but they will limit his big yardage opportunities.

    Cardinals 37 Scarlet Knights 17.


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