An Early Look At Louisville

Louisville enters Saturday's game with Pitt on a three-game winning streak in Big East play. The Panthers are coming in, hoping to just secure a bowl bid.

Louisville and West Virginia were widely reported to be the two teams under consideration by the Big 12 Conference for expansion. It chose the Mountaineers, and WVU is suing to get out of the Big East as soon as possible.

The Cardinals just all but assured that the Mountaineers wouldn't be taking the conference title with them when they depart, and announced themselves as contenders in their own right with a 38-35 victory in Morgantown.

Charlie Strong's squad was a double-digit underdog heading into the day, with good reason. Louisville hadn't beaten West Virginia since 2006, hadn't won in Morgantown since 1990, and its latest win over any ranked team away from home came in 2008.

But Strong's team has also played well on the road all year, so he may be telling the truth when he said after the game that he wasn't surprised at the outcome.

"I was not surprised at all to come into this venue and for us to go and play well," Strong said. "We knew we had to play well. It was all about us coming in here to win the football game. We didn't come here to lose or to play it tight. We came in here to win."

That leaves Louisville with a 5-4 record, but a 3-1 mark in the Big East. It's a game behind Cincinnati in the league, in sole possession of second place. Not bad for a team with a freshman quarterback and heavily reliant on freshmen and sophomores.

"We have overcome adversity all year long, and I just told them before the game it is not so much about playing hard, playing smart or playing with emotion, it's about you yourself going out and doing your job. If you yourself do your job, and your teammate does his job, then we have the confidence and trust that we will get it done," Strong said.

--Saturday's game was a statement of how far freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has come. He completed his first 10 passes, and finished 21-27 for 246 yards and a touchdown.

--Louisville won on Saturday despite being outgained by nearly 200 yards. The Cardinals finished with 351 yards of total offense to the Mountaineers 533.

--The victory gives the Cardinals its first three-game winning streak in Big East play since the 2006 season. Its longest winning streak in Big East play ever is five, accomplished by the 2005 squad. This team would likely need to beat that mark to win the conference title.

KEEP AN EYE ON: QB Teddy Bridgewater -- The more Bridgewater plays, the more comfortable he looks in the pocket and the smoother the offense runs. The Cardinals looked better on offense than it has all season, and it looks like the program is in good hands at the quarterback position for years to come.

LOOKING GOOD: It was a huge victory for the Cardinals, who showed an ability to go into a hostile environment and knock off a top opponent. The offense took advantage of its opportunities, while the special teams produced a critical fourth-quarter touchdown. It was only flagged three times all game, and forced a pair of turnovers without committing any of its own.

STILL NEEDS WORK: Louisville was outgained by nearly 200 yards, and did give up 35 points. The defense allowed West Virginia to convert on eight of its 14 third down opportunities, while Geno Smith threw for 410 yards. A win is a win, but the defense won't like watching the game tape.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It just shows how great we can be. People say we're a young team, we don't have this, we don't have that. We just have coaches; once you trust your coaches, age doesn't matter." -- Freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater told the Louisville Courier-Journal.


--CB Andrew Johnson had six tackles, but made the play of the day while on special teams. He returned a blocked field goal 82 yards for a touchdown to start the fourth quarter, which took the energy out of the stadium in Morgantown.

--CB Mike Evans had a career day against the Mountaineers, with nine tackles. It's the most the senior has ever had in a game as a Cardinal.

--WR Eli Rogers caught his first career touchdown pass in the final seconds of the first half. He finished with five catches for 63 yards, both team highs.

--TE Chris White got his first career catch when he grabbed a seven-yard pass from Teddy Bridgewater in the first quarter. He finished with two receptions for 25 yards.

--S Shenard Holton was out for the third consecutive game for undisclosed reasons.

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