That, of course, is Louisville, which defeated Syracuse to remain unbeaten on Saturday. The Cardinals have continued to roll despite the loss of running back Michael Bush and quarterback Brian Brohm (since returned).
I think Louisville is still doing the same things. They are still very explosive," Rodriguez said. "Bush is a great player, but it hasn't slowed them down any. They have several backs that can do the same things. I think they have done a nice job of building some depth. They lost Brohm, but [Hunter] Cantwell has playing experience. He started for them in the bowl game. And the guys behind Bush had some experience too. I won't say I marveled at [the fact they are still undefeated], because they are one of the great programs in the country. Their defense has also played well.
"They have a lot of talent at other positions. They have skill guys all the way around [the field] that are great players. They have a lot of athletes on defense. They are very fast – in the Miami game, they were faster than Miami. Then they have a great kicking game with Carmody. We had a great battle with them last year, and will have another one next week."
In opposition to the opinions of some observers who think Louisville struggled in its last two games, Rodriguez instead pointed to the competition.
"I think Cincinnati and Syracuse are much improved. We know how tough it is to play at Syracuse. And I think Cincinnati has played defensively well against everybody. They played Ohio State very well for a long time, and Virginia Tech too.
The injury report remained much the same. Johnny Dingle and Pat Liebig are "still limping around" on ankle sprains, and Ridwan Malik is still hampered with the hip and quadriceps injuries that have kept him out of action for much of the season.
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Louisville is severely limiting access to its players and coaches in terms of interviews. There will be one conference call with a handful of players early this week, and head coach Bobby Petrino will appear only on the Big East conference calls.
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Rodriguez has ties to Petrino that extend beyond their first meeting last year.
"I knew his dad when he was coach at Carroll College. When I was at Glenville we played them in the [NAIA] playoffs. I have a lot of respect for him. And Bobby grew up around the game, being a coach's son and all."
Petrino played his college ball at Carroll, which is located in Montana. His father, Bob, coached the Saints from 1971-97.
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Rodriguez remained unconcerned over questions about his passing game. While he has several times noted that opportunities to call pass plays have gone by the wayside ("We didn't have to throw it, because we had the lead"), he expects that might change against the Cardinals.
"I guess we will find out when we see how teams defend us," Rodriguez said of the concern that his passing game might still be lacking. "We have a lot of confidence in our wide receivers and in our offensive line. Louisville runs a lot of blitzes, and we put in a lot of time in practice with our line working against the blitz. Hopefully we can execute when we need to."
Rodriguez also noted that balance between the run and passing game isn't a matter of yards produced, but rather in the way the offense reacts to the way foes defend it.
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The extra time to prepare also won't be a factor in the head coach's view.
"I think it helps from a health standpoint and maybe a recognition standpoint. But since [the time off] is the same for both teams, it's not much of a factor."
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Rodriguez took the day on Saturday to watch games with his family, but the coaching aspect still intruded. While he could watch the Clemson-Georgia Tech game as a fan and father, the same didn't hold true for games with Big East foes, as he watched both the Louisville-Syracuse and Rutgers-Pittsburgh tilts.
"Watching teams that you play, you analyze a little more," he said. "It harder to watch on TV, and do that, because you don't get the same angles. But it's tough not to watch as a coach. If you've already played them, it's a little easier to relax. But everyone you haven't played yet, you keep a closer eye on."