Preview - UConn vs Louisville

It's make or break, put up or shut up, do or die --- a virtual cliche-lover's paradise --- time at Rentschler Field tonight as UConn faces 16th-ranked Louisville in the game that ends the regular season from coast to coast. A UConn victory would not only be its first ever over a ranked team in seven tries, but it would make the Huskies (5-5) eligible for a bowl.

A loss by South Florida to Big East champion West Virginia would set the stage for UConn, with a win, to play in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., on New Year's Eve. But a high-powered Louisville team (8-2) stands in the way. How can the Huskies pull this off?

 

HUNTER CANTWIN

Brian Brohm, the second-most efficient passer in the land, according to the NCAA's stats, is gone for the season after tearing the ACL in his right leg last week against Syracuse. In his place is Hunter Cantwell, a redshirt freshman walk-on making his first career start. How good is Cantwell? Well, he completed 8 of 11 passes against the Orange a week ago and looked the part in doing so. But your overweight uncle could have completed 8 of 11 passes against Sad Excuse --- uh, make that Syracuse --- this season, especially with the athletic behemoths the Cardinals use to protect their quarterback. So we ask again: How good is Cantwell? UConn shouldn't wait to find out. Get in his face, knock him down, rattle his confidence and his rib cage. Louisville has a rare weakness in its offense. UConn must exploit it, or die.

 

LINE SMACKERS

Everyone, from coach Randy Edsall on down to the guy who left with 8:00 left in the first quarter because he was too cold and uncomfortable, loved the way UConn's linebackers played last week in a 15-10 victory over South Florida. Taurien Sowell's return to middle linebacker after missing three games with an ankle injury united the defense and revitalized its sense of purpose. Sowell played so well, but his partners were even better. James Hargrave intercepted a tipped pass and, as always, managed to zip into the opposing backfield untouched to stop a running play before it started. Best of all was Danny Lansanah, who may have had the most dominant game of any linebacker at UConn since Alfred Fincher left (OK, that was only last year, but you get the point). Guess what? For all the good the linebacking trio did last week, it will have to do even better if it wants to stop the Cardinals. South Florida had one main weapon in Andre Hall. Louisville boasts an arsenal of trouble and it's aimed right at the UConn end zone.

 

FREEZE 'EM OUT

If you thought last Saturday was cold, you haven't felt anything yet (especially your toes). A Saturday night game in December is about as un-fan friendly as it gets, but at least the fans at Rentschler on Saturday will be there because they want to be. How do you think Louisville feels about playing an essentially meaningless game --- the Cardinals already are signed, sealed, and delivered to the Gator Bowl on Jan. 2 --- in such miserable conditions? The Cardinals have no incentive to win this game, at least nothing as inspiring as a potential bowl bid, like UConn does. Louisville won't just be flat, it will be flat-out freezing. The Huskies should kick snow in their face and completely demoralize the Cardinals right from the start, before the visitors warm up to the task at hand.


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