Preview: Rutgers at Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Rutgers travels to the house of cards tonight in an attempt to win a fifth straight game and become bowl eligible. The 2-4 Louisville Cardinals stand in the Scarlet Knights' way. previews the action.

Rutgers (5-1, 2-0) at Louisville (2-4, 0-1)

Time: 8:05 p.m., Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, Ky.
TV/Radio: ESPN2, 710-WOR, 1450-AM, 97.5 FM, 88.7 WRSU
Series: Rutgers leads 7-3
Last meeting: Nov. 26, 2010: Louisville won, 40-13
Coaches: Rutgers – Greg Schiano (11th season, 64-64); Navy – Charlie Strong (2nd season, 9-10)


  • True Freshmen. Gary Nova vs. Teddy Bridgewater. Nova, a three-star quarterback last year, is 2-0 as a true freshman starter. Bridgewater, a four-star quarterback and the No. 6 rated passer in last year's class, has 709 passing yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions for 2-4 Louisville. The two true freshmen quarterbacks face off tonight on ESPN2 with Nova trying to limit mistakes and the Rutgers defense trying to cause as many as possible against Bridgewater.

  • Bowl Eligibility. Louisville became bowl eligible against Rutgers last season in the Scarlet Knights' house. The Cardinals have a chance tonight to return the favor. At 5-1, one more win for Rutgers means a return to bowl eligibility after a 4-8 performance last season.

  • Block that Kick. Rutgers has two wins this season because of blocked field goals late in the game. In a battle of two struggling offenses, special teams could yet again be the difference-maker.

Scouting Louisville

Offensively, the story for Louisville is true freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Like Nova, Bridgewater took the starting quarterback job midseason and has struggled with some freshman mistakes. Bridgewater is 0-3 as a starting quarterback, but his mobility and strong arm are a threat. This season, the former four-star quarterback has four touchdown passes to five interceptions. Former freshman star running back Victor Anderson takes a backseat to two other running backs this year. Dominique Brown leads the team with 211 rushing yards and Jeremy Wright is second with 176 yards.

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater
Defensively, Louisville does not surrender many points at home. In three home games, though two were losses, Louisville gives up just 16 points per contest at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Linebacker Dexter Heyman leads the Cards with 46 total tackles.

Matchup to Watch
Rutgers WR Mohamed Sanu vs Louisville CB Mike Evans. Evans plays nickel cornerback for the Cardinals and returned an interception 63 yards last week against Cincinnati. With the way offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti moves Sanu along the line of scrimmage pre-snap, the two are bounded to go head-to-head multiple times.

What Rutgers Must Do Offensively
Protect the ball. Turnovers nearly killed Rutgers against Navy last week and nearly won the game for Louisville against Cincinnati. Rutgers needs to make smart decisions in the passing game and keep the ball from hitting the ground in the red-zone.

What Rutgers Must Do Defensively
Force Turnovers.Teddy Bridgewater has not seen anything like the Rutgers pressure defense. Schiano needs to blitz from everywhere and have his defense keep Bridgewater from getting to comfortable at any point in the game.

Three keys for a Rutgers win
Khaseem Greene
1. Swarm. Rutgers is the best turnover team in the Big East. Going into a hostile, Friday night environment, hard hits and turnovers can even the playing field.

2. Don't abandon the run. The Cardinals have not given up 300 passing yards yet this season, but are pedestrian in run defense. Louisville gave up 178 rushing yards to Cincinnati last week and 148 to Murray State to start the year. Though it was with the Wildcat, the running game won the game for Rutgers at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium two years ago.

3. Focus. Many outside factors surround tonight's game. From conference re-alignment to a potential top-25 battle against West Virginia next week on ABC, none of it matters if Rutgers falls to 2-4 Louisville.

Three keys for a Louisville win
1. Protect a Lead. Louisville blew a 16-point lead in its Big East opener against Cincinnati.

2. Control Bridgewater. The true freshman quarterback is the real deal, but he makes enough mistakes to overshadow his great plays. The Louisville offensive game plan needs to prevent Bridgewater from trying to do too much.

3. Use Home-Field Advantage. Louisville coach Charlie Strong is just 4-6 at home and 1-2 this season. With the ESPN lights on tonight, however, expect a stronger crowd than usual to pack Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

Rutgers, 16, Louisville 10

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