HIGH NOON: Shootout at Papa John's Stadium

Two of the highest-flying passing attacks meet for a 9 a.m. showdown this Saturday as the Oregon State Beavers travel to Louisville, Kentucky to test their mettle against top 10 ranked Louisville.

National rankings aside, both teams boast a sophisticated passing attack and both feature a former Elite 11 quarterback who is averaging a 70% completion ratio, and both feature a relatively young and inexperienced secondary, so it won't be a surprise to see the scoreboard light up.

The biggest difference between the two teams in the running game. While Oregon State did improve on their running game in the contest against Boise last week, questions about their ability to run the ball linger. Louisville has more answers than questions: At 6-3 and 240 pounds, Michael Bush looks the part of an NFL back and has the skills to thrill, and is one of the reasons why the Cards are looked at as possible dark horse contenders for the national title in their inaugural campaign in the Big East.

The Cardinals rushed for 209 yards against in-state rival Kentucky in their opener, en route to piling up 388 yards of offense - which was only the third time in the past 26 games that Louisville failed to eclipse the 400 yard mark. Of those 388 yards of offense, an eye-popping 220 came on just 6 plays - yet UL coach Bobby Petrino would like to see more big-play production from his offense.
"We threw for a very high percentage (against Kentucky), but we need to get more big plays," Petrino said. "We've been working hard on running after the catch, breaking tackles, and throwing it down the field a little bit more."

Quarterback Brian Brohm is a threat to score with his legs as well as his arm, rushing for 2 scores against the Wildcats.

Oregon State will call on their linebackers to make big plays, after the trio rolled up a combined 36 tackles last week against the Broncos. They will have their work cut out for them with the Cardinal rushing attack. The secondary will likely get a workout as well, as Louisville will look to again test out the young corners at Oregon State.

No doubt Louisville defensive coordinators have spent the week scheming to control Oregon State wide receiver Mike Hass. A player who is often described by weary defenders as "sneaky fast" has been a nightmare to cover so far this year, and holds a 6 game streak of 100 yard games. He and Oregon State quarterback Matt Moore have quickly developed a chemistry that has been critical to the production of the Beaver offensive machine.

"You bring a guy in, he ends up starting, and you worry about chemistry," Oregon State coach Mike Riley said. "By the end of the year last year, I think Mike and (former quarterback) Derek (Anderson) were on that proverbial same page. They could reach each other very, very well. I worried about missing that. I don't pretend we have it (back), but Matt and Mike have come a long way in a short time." Moore has come on strong, throwing for 323 yards per game, five touchdowns and just one interception, completing 53 of 76 passes.

Louisville's defensive weakness so far has proven to be the secondary, and they will certainly face a stern test this week. Star defensive end Elvis Dumervil will need to have an impact to slow down Oregon State's passing attack and get pressure on Matt Moore. The senior standout notched Big East and school records with 6 sacks against Kentucky, and will be a load for Oregon State to contend with. First year starting free safety Brandon Sharp will need to improve quickly after an uneven performance against Kentucky in the opener, allowing a 4th quarter touchdown that nearly let the Wildcats back in the game.

The game will kick off at an eye-opening 9 a.m. on ESPN. Break out the Bloody Mary mix (or the coffee, whatever your fancy) and settle in - it should be a good one.

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