Louisville, Memphis set to renew rivalry

Louisville (2-2, 0-1) and Memphis (3-3, 1-2) haven't faced each other on the gridiron since 2004, but the Cardinals and Tigers will renew their longstanding rivalry Friday night at the Liberty Bowl.

The last time these two old rivals met sparks flew. That game was played in Memphis four years ago and the Cardinals came away with an exciting 56-49 win. Following that season, Louisville moved into the Big East while Memphis stayed behind in Conference USA. Tonight at 8:00, the two teams will renew a rivalry before an ESPN2 audience.

"It was one of the most fun college football games I've been a part of so far," Eric Wood said. "56-(49) I think it was. It went down to the wire. Kerry Rhodes stole the ball from DeAngelo Williams and there were NFL players running all over the field that game. It was fun to watch and I'm excited to be a part of it."

Both teams enter the game with .500 records. Louisville is coming off a 26-21 loss to UConn two weeks ago – a game the Cardinals felt they should have won. Memphis, after dropping their first three games of the season, has ripped off three straight wins, including a 33-30 victory over UAB in their last outing.

Two weeks ago, Louisville dominated the game statistically against UConn but blew an 11-point second half lead because of costly turnovers and penalties. Eric Wood, Louisville's starting offensive center, says the Cardinals have the talent to win games if they can eliminate their mistakes.

"The fact that we lost both of those games without getting manhandled on the stat sheet – it's tough," Wood said of losses to Kentucky and UConn. "Those are two games we felt the outcome could have been different if we would have eliminated our mistakes. Now it's just about not making those mistakes."

Johnny Patrick and the UofL defense
will have their hands full
with Memphis' balanced offensive

The Cards hope to eliminate those mistakes tonight so they can take advantage of an aggressive Memphis defense that has given up some big plays this season. The Tigers gave up a combined 83 points in losses to Ole Miss and Rice to open the season.

"They're very aggressive," said Kragthorpe. "They use multiple fronts and they're doing a nice job out of their four man stuff. There's a lot of corner and safety blitzes. They do a good job playing man coverage."

Louisville hopes to use Memphis' aggressive approach against the Tigers.

"They could be vulnerable to the big plays if we catch them in the wrong stunt," said Wood. "That's something we've got to game-plan to get us into the right situations."

Louisville will attack Memphis on the ground with a trio of backs that have been strong since being shut down by Kentucky in the opener. Victor Anderson has run for 100 or more yards in each of his last three games, while Brock Bolen and Bilal Powell are averaging 48.2 and 52.2 yards per contest, respectively. All three are averaging more than 5.7 yards per carry. Memphis ranks 86th nationally in rushing defense.

"We're going to come out and establish the run game," Wood said. "We've got three great running backs and we're playing well up front."

Defensively, Louisville will have to contend with Memphis quarterback Arselon Hall and a slew of talented wide receivers and running backs. Hall, a junior college transfer, has played well of late. He has plenty of weapons surrounding him, including 6-8 wide receiver Carlos Singleton and running backs Curtis Steele and Charlie Jones, a Miami transfer.

"Arselon Hall is really playing good football for them right now," said Kragthorpe. "He's making some plays with his feet and throwing the ball down the field with great accuracy. They've got a great group of wide receivers and they're running the ball well on offense."

Hall has thrown for more than 1,400 yards and five touchdowns but has been vulnerable to turnovers. He's thrown eight interceptions this season, and, Louisville, who has made four interceptions and recovered five fumbles, hopes to capitalize on a few of Hall's mistakes.

Singleton and Steele provide Memphis offensive balance. While Singleton has 522 receiving yards, Steele has 578 yards on the ground. The Tigers average 462 yards total offense and 28 points per game. So Louisville's improved defense figures to be challenged tonight in Memphis.

TIME: 8:00 TELEVISION: ESPN2 LOCATION: Liberty Bowl, Memphis, Tenn.

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