Game Day: Louisville vs. Marshall

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.

Television: WHAS/ESPN3.com

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.

Statistics

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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.

Titus Teague 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.

NOTABLE

--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.

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--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.

Quotable

--"I feel like we're going to have some excitement because of the Kentucky win, and now we're coming back to our stadium. We have to play better at home. We haven't played very well here and we need to do that." --Charlie Strong

--"They finally found their identity against Kentucky. Our team's going to be ready to go down to Louisville and just do what we like to do, and that's play football." --Marshall DE Vinny Curry

--"I expect the fans to come out in full force. The first games were Thursday and Friday nights and people have things to do. I understand that, the world doesn't stop for football. It's a Saturday afternoon; hopefully, people will come out and support us and enjoy the show. We bust our tails every week to come out and put on a show for fans, so hopefully they'll come and appreciate and enjoy that." --Greg Scruggs

--"Louisville is going to be aggressive - (coach Strong) was when he was at Florida and he's going to come after us. Last Saturday, the pressure by Virginia Tech hurt them at the end of the half because (quarterback Rakeem Cato) made some things happen. Charlie isn't going to change and I expect him to bring the pressure." --Marshall head coach Doc Holliday

--"They're going to try run early. If they don't have success I think they'll go to the pass game right away. So what we have to do is contain the run. If we can do that and make them throw the ball then our defensive line can have a great day." --Vance Bedford

--"Anytime you beat a rival it's really good for your program and your players. We needed to make a move in our program and go into Commonwealth and beat them there. It was big and it should have been big. I'm glad we didn't play last week because I think they would still have been thinking about beating Kentucky and would have forgotten about their opponent. Now we can put that behind us and move forward." --Charlie Strong

--"They (Cato and Bridgewater) both can make all the throws. The only difference I see at this point is that Bridgewater was there for spring ball and that does make a difference. He is probably three months ahead of Cato on the learning curve." --Doc Holliday

--"If the football stadium is anything like the basketball arena, I'm sure it will be an awesome place to play." --Marshall kicker Tyler Warner

--"I don’t know if we can beat Kentucky right now. They return ten starters on defense. Their whole offensive line is back and that is the nucleus of their football team right now. They’ve beaten us four straight years. They’ve been to five straight bowl games. We’ve been to one bowl game in four years. They have out-recruited us. We still have a ways to go. We have to go catch that program because within this state right now, Kentucky leads the series. We have a long ways to go." --Charlie Strong

-- "Stein is still their starter. He’s not going to get beat out just because of an injury. I know we’ll see both of them. They play them both all the time. Bridgewater came in and did a nice job in that Kentucky game. I’m sure we’ll see Stein, but I’m sure we’ll see Bridgewater also. There isn’t much difference. They don’t change things when either are in there." --Doc Holliday

--"We definitely play better in hurry-up. So I guess that’s going to be part of our game plan from now on." --Marshall WR Aaron Dobson

--"It's a big part of the offensive side of the ball. We need it. We've got to get the run game going." --Marshall QB Rakeem Cato

--"I see us being 1-3 is not as bad as it looks because of our schedule. At the same time, we feel like those were games we could have won." --Marshall safety Omar Brown

--"The main thing that sticks out to me on their defense is they fly around, they like to blitz a lot. We have to be able to pick it up and slide which way the blitz is coming, and be aware of what's going on." --Marshall OT Ryan Tillman

--"Just from watching the film on (Louisville) the last couple of days, it's like they are still trying to find themselves right now. They have a lot of talent like we do, but they are trying to put the pieces together just like us." --Omar Brown

--"You can’t take (any)body lightly. We see what happened when we took FIU lightly they came in here and got a win in our home stadium. Everybody’s got to stay on task and really just keep the focus." --Adrian Bushell

--"We talked about (UK) being a statement win now every game becomes a statement. We have to hone in on that and appreciate that and not buckle under the pressure." --Dexter Heyman

Card Chronicle Prediction: Louisville 28, Marshall 10

GO CARDS.

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