Petrino, who went 41-9 in four seasons at U of L, never beat the Bulls on the road, falling in overtime in 2003 and getting blown out in a major upset in 2005. Louisville has never won in Tampa against South Florida. The Cardinals need a win this time to keep their bowl hopes alive.
South Florida appeared on the verge of a breakout season. The Bulls started the season 6-0 with wins over Auburn and West Virginia. But after rising to No. 2 in the national polls, South Florida dropped three straight games before righting the ship last week with a 41-10 road victory over Syracuse.
"We're a little bit banged up but that is to be expected this time of year," Kragthorpe said. "I think South Florida is a team that has played consistently this season. They had a stretch where they didn't win games but they were still playing good football against good football teams."
Cards to win against USF.
"George is a tremendous player," Kragthorpe said. "They are physical and very fast upfront. George has got 14 sacks on the season and he's a guy that collapses the pocket. He's a high effort player and makes a lot of plays. Moffitt is a very good linebacker. He's kind of the captain of the front seven and gets everybody lined up. And they're good in the secondary."
Louisville's offense will be challenged by South Florida's tough and stingy defense. The Cardinals have become one-dimensional in recent weeks and have been unable to establish any sort of effective rushing attack. They'll need to find one quickly against the Bulls or it will be a long night, especially with Selvie applying pressure. South Florida's defense knows how to force turnovers, too, as they come into the game with 31 on the season.
"Certainly you don't want to be one dimensional in any phase of the game," Kragthorpe said. "We don't want to be one dimensional on offense. We want to present challenges to the defense running the football and throwing the football. Certainly when you're running the football well a lot of the facets of your passing game come to life."
Injuries – and a key suspension - will play a major role for Louisville Saturday night. U of L sophomore defensive end Peanut Whitehead won't play after suffering a career-ending injury last week at West Virginia. Senior defensive end Brandon Cox is also questionable after being helped off the field against the Mountaineers. And the U of L defense will be without its best cornerback – Rod Council, who is suspended for tonight's contest.
"We're a little big chewed up on defense," Kragthorpe said. "We've gotten beat up a little bit on the defensive line. Hopefully Aundre Henderson could be back this week and provide us a little more depth inside. Outside, I think Maurice is getting more healthy and we played Malik a little bit at defensive end with our lack of depth there we moved him around a little bit. And we'll probably do a little more of that this week."
South Florida's offense has scored 30 or more points five times this season. Quarterback Matt Grothe leads the Bulls attack and is a dangerous runner/thrower. South Florida also had two running backs top the 100 yard mark against the Orange last week.
"I think Matt is playing very consistently right now," Kragthorpe said. "He's a dual-threat quarterback. He can run the ball. He can throw the ball. He can improvise and make plays with his feet. They like to throw the ball down the field out of their four wide receiver sets, which is their main personnel grouping."
"Mike Ford is rushing the ball well," Kragthorpe added. "They had two rushers over 100 yards against Syracuse last week."
Kick-off is slated for 8 p.m. and the contest will be broadcast live on ESPNU.
"We've got a big challenge going to Tampa this Saturday night," Kragthorpe said. "But I know our guys are excited to go down there and play again."