No. 25 Pittsburgh (6-2, 2-1) is led by sophomore tailback LeSean McCoy, second in the Conference in rushing, while the Cardinals (5-3, 1-2) have fifth-rated redshirt freshman Victor Anderson leading the way.
The 5-foot-9, 182-pound Anderson has 840 yards (6.2 average) and seven touchdowns this season. Louisville also has senior Brock Bolen, a 6-foot, 238-pound bruiser with 366 yards (4.2) and five scores.
"Anderson is quick,'' Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. "He makes a lot of guys miss. He's got exceptional speed, and he's a lot stronger than what you might first anticipate. He's a very good back. He can play for anybody in our conference. There's no question about that.''
In previous years, in particular with quarterback Brian Brohm at the helm, Louisville was more of a passing team. Wannstedt noted that while the Cardinals are more likely to run the ball under second-year coach Steve Kragthorpe, they won't hesitate to take a shot down field when necessary.
And at 6-5, 236 pounds, senior quarterback Hunter Cantwell can get the ball as far as he wants. Cantwell has completed better than 58 percent of his passes for 1,579 yards and 12 touchdowns, but he has been picked off 10 times and really isn't that mobile.
"Their quarterback came in and contributed a year ago when Brohm got hurt,'' Wannstedt said. "He came in and didn't miss a beat on offense. He can make all the throws, and he's an accurate passer. They've changed a little bit because of the coaching change.
"But as far as throwing the ball down the field they love to throw the ball deep and love to use the play-action pass. They have a lot of skill and speed on their football team. They have good athletes at every position. This will be a big challenge for our defense.''
Sophomore Doug Beaumont, a 5-9, 176-pound speedster, is Louisville's leading receiver by far with 37 catches for 443 yards with no touchdowns. Redshirt freshman Josh Chichester (6-8, 224) is next with 20 catches for 223 yards and one score, while senior tight end Johnnie Burns (6-3, 245) has 13 for 122 yards and one TD. Running backs Anderson and sophomore Bilal Powell have 10 catches each. Anderson also has one touchdown.
"I really look forward to these games when we go against a team with a good running back and a quarterback who likes to stay in the pocket,'' Pitt defensive tackle Mick Williams said.
"That way, we can go out and do our thing against them, and it makes us look a lot better when we play well. Their O-line is huge, just like Notre Dame, so we should have a good carryover from playing against them.''
Louisville has a relatively veteran offensive line with sophomore right tackle Jeff Adams the most imposing at 6-8 and 318 pounds. The remaining lineman have good size as well with senior left tackle George Bussey (6-4, 306), sophomore left guard Mark Wetterer (6-5, 315), senior center Eric Wood (6-4, 309) and junior right guard Abdul Kiyateh (6-2, 296).
The Cardinals are extremely experienced on defense with all upperclassmen except for sophomores Johnny Patrick and Latarrius Thomas at field cornerback and strong safety, respectively. Senior corner Woodny Turenne is the glue in that secondary, however, with four interceptions.
Junior weak-side linebacker Jon Dempsey is the leading tackler with 47 stops, including 34 solo, while junior free safety Dan Covington has 30 unassisted tackles and six assists. Junior middle linebacker Chris Campa, senior free safety Bobby Buchanan and Turenne also are among the biggest hitters.
Up front, Louisville is a veteran group with three seniors and a junior. Senior defensive tackle Adrian Grady (6-2, 305) is the top run-stuffer.
"Defensively, they are a 4-3 team,'' Wannstedt said. "They're pressuring a little bit more this year than they have in the past. Right now, their defensive line, in my opinion, is the most improved position.
"They return three players from a year ago, and they're playing good. Two weeks ago they were leading the conference in rushing defense (until Syracuse shredded them). They're doing a nice job.''
Louisville's return game also is dangerous, as kick-returners Trent Guy and Beaumont average 34.9 and 26.2 yards, respectively, per runback. Guy has a 95-yard touchdown return. Anderson also is a solid returner. Beaumont also averages nearly 11 yards per punt return.
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