Louisville-Pitt: Key Matchups

Louisville hasn't lost a game to Pittsburgh at home since 1983. If the Cardinals plan to keep that streak alive they'll have to win these key matchups.

Louisville OL vs. Pittsburgh DL

Louisville's offensive line struggled to open holes in the running game or protect quarterback Justin Burke in its last outing against Utah. The Cardinals averaged a porous 2.3 yards a carry and allowed four sacks against the Utes. They'll be tested by a strong Pittsburgh defensive front tonight. The Panthers rank first in the Big East in sacks per game (4.0), ninth nationally, and eighth nationally in tackles for loss. If Louisville doesn't do a better job up front against the Panthers it could be a long night for a Louisville offense that has struggled at times this year.

Louisville WR's vs. Pittsburgh Secondary

If Louisville's line can provide Burke enough time to find his receivers the Cardinals could find huge success against Pittsburgh's struggling defensive backfield. The Panthers rank 87th nationally in pass defense, giving up 239 yards per game through the air. Earlier this season, Buffalo passed for 433 yards against Pittsburgh. Last week, NC State threw for 322 yards. If given time, Burke has enough weapons with Scott Long, Doug Beaumont and Trent Guy to create huge problems for the Panthers defense.

Louisville DL vs. Pittsburgh OL

Louisville's defense hasn't been particularly successful stopping the run or applying pressure to opposing quarterbacks this season. The Cardinals rank dead last in the Big East against the run, allowing 133 yards per game, and in sacks. That could be bad news against a Panthers offense that averages 154 yards on the ground and is first in the league in sacks given up. Pittsburgh ranks first nationally in sacks allowed, giving up just two sacks in their first four games this season. The Panthers also boast an outstanding freshman RB in Dion Lewis, who has eight rushing touchdowns to lead the league in scoring.

Louisville special teams vs. Pittsburgh special teams

Both teams possess dangerous return men in Trent Guy and Cameron Sadler. Guy averages 33.8 yards per kickoff return, tops in the Big East and 11th best in the nation. He's returned two kicks for touchdown in his career and had a 65-yard return that set up a field goal against Kentucky. Sadler, a speedy 5'8 freshman, is equally as dangerous. He averages 30 yards per kickoff return and had a 47 yard return against NC State.

If the game is tight, field position could become an important battle. Both teams boast solid punters. Corey Goettsche leads the Big East and is sixth nationally in punting average at 45.06 per punt. He punted seven times against Utah for a 49 yard average. Dan Hutchins is also solid for the Panthers. He's averaging 42 yards per punt and also handles the kicking chores. He had a 47 yard average against Youngstown State and pinned NC State inside the 20 yard line three times last week.

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