LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (2-1) VS. MARSHALL THUNDERING HERD (1-3, 1-0)
Game Time: 3:30 p.m.
Location: Papa John's Cardinal Stadium: Louisville, Ky.
Announcers: Drew Deener (play-by-play), Doug James (analyst).
Favorite: Louisville by 11
All-Time Series: Louisville leads 16-11
Last Meeting: Marshall won 38-15 in the 2002 GMAC Bowl.
Excitement Level: 8.4
At the beginning of the week, I'll admit it, I was about a 6.5-7. But as the week went on, the emptiness in my stomach grew larger and larger. It's been 14 days. That's at least seven too many.
We're coming off arguably the biggest regular season win in the past four years, the weather's going to be amazing, the game's in the middle of the day; there's really nothing not to be excited about.
Game Attire: Grey Louisville football T, red pullover, red/white Cardinal hat.
As far as the Art jersey is concerned, in the immortal words of Lady Antebellum: I don't want to mess this thing up. I don't want to push too far.
I'm the first to admit that I've brought a few other "hot shot" articles of clothing along a bit too quickly over the past five years, and we've seen what happened in nearly all of those instances (R.I.P., red orange bowl champions shirt).
Grey Louisville football T is Mr. Reliable at this point, and I trust that he'll handle bidness this afternoon.
Pregame Meal: The 3:30 Saturday time means the first grilling of the young season. Burgers, hot dogs, chips/dip, and of course the Mike Rutherford Special (Cookie Cake). Also, beer.
Bold Prediction: DeVante Parker makes it four-for-four with yet another TD grab.
Bonus Bold Prediction: Louisville leads by no more than one score at halftime.
It's going to be a slow start.
Playing Alert Level: Hot Magenta (even lower than last week)
Predicted Star of the Game: Josh Bellamy
The Thundering Herd are susceptible to the big play and JB1 is the most lethal big play threat on the team.
--The Thundering Herd average 88.3 yards rushing per game and rank 103rd in the nation. They do not have a rushing touchdown this season, and ran for a total of just six yards last weekend against Virginia Tech.
--Marshall is third in the NCAA in punt returns (25.5) and ninth in tackles for loss (8.25), but has sunk to 100th or worse in several areas: rushing offense (103rd, 88.3), total offense (112th, 286.8), scoring offense (113th, 14.0), total defense (102nd, 419.5), net punting (100th, 34.12) and passing efficiency (101th, 111.4).
--Louisville is second in tackles for loss (9.33), 11th in rushing defense (74.33) and 18th in sacks (nine in three games), but 100th in scoring offense (20.7) and 115th in sacks allowed (11 in three games).
--Louisville has dropped a pair of post-season appearances to Marshall, losing to the Thundering Herd 38-15 in the 2002 GMAC Bowl and 48-23 in the 1998 Motor City Bowl.
--Louisville is 8-2 all-time at home versus Marshall, but this will be the Thundering Herd’s first visit to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
--Marshall defeated Louisville 34-31 at Cardinal Stadium in 1987. Louisville’s last win in the series was a 36-0 victory at home in 1981.
--Louisville has a 26-9 (74.3) record in non-conference games overall since starting Big East play in 2005.
--Marshall has 31 players from the state of Florida on its roster, three more than Louisville's 28. Sixteen pairs of players from both sides list the same city as their hometown.
--Marshall head coach Doc Holliday is the worst smiler in major college football.
--Marshall freshman quarterback Rakeem Cato and Louisville freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater have been rivals for quite some time. The two squared off head-to-head on three occasions while playing high school ball in Miami. Cato walked away with a 2-1 record and won a state title as a senior, but it was Bridgewater who was named the first team quarterback for Florida's 6-A division.
--Under Charlie Strong, Louisville is 1-5 in games when it trails at halftime, and 1-6 when it trails after the third quarter. On the flip side, the Cardinals are 6-1 when leading after one, 7-2 when leading at the half and 8-2 when they have the lead after the third quarter
--In 1987, Marshall was 2-3 after five games before stunning Louisville on a last-second hail mary and winning eight straight to advance all the way to the I-AA National Championship game. Folks in Huntington have drawn comparisons to that game and this one.
--Marshall wide receiver Aaron Dodson has 35 percent of the Herd's receptions (20), 31 percent of the receiving yardage (245), and 80 percent of the receiving touchdowns (4).
--Through three games, Louisville has played 23 players who have made their first collegiate appearances.
-- Louisville's six-sack effort against Kentucky is the fourth time the Cardinals have had five or more in Strong's 16-game tenure.
--Today's crowd at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium will dwarf the 21,658 at old Cardinal Stadium on Oct. 10, 1987, when Marshall upended Howard Schnellenberger's Louisville team 34-31. The Cardinals averaged 25,986 over six home games that season.
--Kentucky native and recent Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer will be on-hand for the game.