Wednesday Afternoon Cardinal News And Notes

Jordan, Jessica and friends are all smiles despite the growing number of experts picking Louisville to be upset by Pittsburgh this weekend.

Spread check: Louisville by 3.

Weather check: High of 63, low of 56, partly cloudy with a 10% chance of rain. Also a 10% chance of snow, raining frogs and an on-field volcanic eruption.

CBS joins the surprisingly robust list of folks picking Pitt to upset Louisville.

Magic number for Louisville: 3. The Cards will be looking for their third consecutive win away from home after beating Florida International and Southern Mississippi on the road.

Magic number for Pittsburgh: 4. The Panthers have beaten Louisville in four straight games, including last year's 21-14 victory at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

The game comes down to: Louisville. If the Cardinals show up Saturday ready to play a full game -- something they haven't done all year -- they win easily. The Cardis have looked sluggish to begin games, and they are going to get Pitt's best shot. Then again, this could be when Charlie Strong's team wakes up. It could go either way.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 21, Louisville 20

Steve Greenberg of The Sporting News also joins that list.

U of L says the Cardinal offense is looking for an identity heading into Saturday's game.

ESPN gives Louisville's non-conference schedule an 8 out of 10 on the toughness scale.

LOUISVILLE

Toughest: Battle 4 Atlantis (Nov. 22-24), at Memphis (Dec. 15), Kentucky (Dec. 29)

Next-toughest: Illinois State (Dec. 1), vs. Western Kentucky (Dec. 22 in Nashville)

The rest: Manhattan (Nov. 11), Samford (Nov. 15), Miami-Ohio (Nov. 18), at Charleston (Dec. 4), UMKC (Dec. 8), Florida International (Dec. 19)

Toughness scale: 8 -- The beauty in this schedule is what you don't see -- namely the Battle 4 Atlantis schedule after the first-round date with Northern Iowa. Missouri, Stanford, Memphis, VCU, Duke and Minnesota round out the field of heavy hitters, all of whom will give the top-5 Cards plenty to handle. And the date with Kentucky is always a nice friendly little waltz, too.

Pitt coach Paul Chryst on Louisville: "I don't think anyone will be intimidated by the fact that a ranked team is coming in."

Oh Ted talk Pitt. Ted talk Pitt very well.


A really good story from C.L. Brown on the man we call Pooda.

Andrell Smith was determined again. The more he thought about what Strong told him, the more he found his resolve.

"That was one of the hardest conversations to deal with 'cause he went at my head on that one," Smith said. "Just knowing the player I came here to be and who I can be, I just thought about it and said forget it, I'm just going to give it all I got."

Through five games, Smith leads the team with 189 receiving yards. He's already passed his production from last season with 14 receptions - second on the team behind Damian Copeland's 16. He's on pace to crush his personal bests from his sophomore season, when he caught 25 passes for 207 yards.

Through six weeks of the season, Louisville is one of just three teams in the country with two running backs who have rushed for more than 380 yards.

The Big East has moved ahead of the Big Ten and into the No. 4 spot in CBS' college football conference power rankings.

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U of L jumps a spot to No. 18 in this week's BlogPoll. The Cards were ranked as high as No. 9 (Bearcats Blog) and as low as No. 25. Rutgers (20) and Cincinnati (21) also continued to make appearances in the poll.

C.L. Brown has more on Jake Smith's defense of the Big East.

A quick reminder that there's going to be some hot and heavy soccer rivalry action tonight at Cardinal Park.

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I'm going to be at the Reds game so if someone can get me a rally towel, I'll probably take them on a date.

Eric Prisbell of USA Today is picking Louisville, Indiana, UNLV and NC State to crash the Final Four.

Pitt freshman running back Rushel "The" Shell "With Shoes On" missed last Friday's game against Syracuse because of back spasms, but says he expects to play against Louisville.

"I rested a lot towards the end of the week, and now I am feeling like I am back to 100 percent," Shell affirmed.

His back won't be sore from carrying the team, especially with Ray Graham conquering his own health issues to lead Pitt's running game for one more season, but Shell admits the experience of overcoming slow starts at Hopewell is helping him fight through present circumstances.

"There were times in high school we would start off by losing the first four games, and then have to win the rest of them to get to the playoffs," Shell said. "Now we probably have to win the rest of them to get to a bowl game. It's never over till the last game, so we'll keep working hard for our final goal, whatever it is."

Speaking of Pitt running backs, Cardiac Hill says Panther star Ray Graham has played better this season when he's been asked to carry less of the workload.

I've heard the movie is not so good, but I think we need to incorporate the noise from the Prometheus trailers/commercials into this year's U of L basketball intro somehow. It's just...I don't know, it's just cool.

James Young, the No. 8 player in the class of 2013, will announce his college choice tomorrow. James Young's college choice is going to be Kentucky.

Matt Ufford does the world a favor and introduces us all to "Extreme Michael Bush."

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CBS released its full coverage schedule for the 2012-13 season on Tuesday, which includes three Louisville games. CBS will be on the call when the Cards host Kentucky on Dec. 29, when they travel to Syracuse on March 2, and when they host Notre Dame in the regular season finale on March 9.

Interestingly, CBS will not be broadcasting Louisville's Dec. 15 game at Memphis as originally thought. That contest will be carried on Fox Sports Net, which is slightly disappointing since it should be one of the best non-conference games of the entire season.

USA Today says that the epicenter of college basketball this season will be around these parts.

Any reference to a geographical triangle usually brings to mind the Research Triangle in North Carolina. Make no mistake, North Carolina and Duke will be Final Four contenders once again. And North Carolina State, fresh off a Sweet 16 appearance and the recruitment of three McDonald's All-Americans, is well positioned to win its first ACC regular season title since 1989. There also are off-court issues at Duke and North Carolina. Investigations continue into a widening academic scandal that has ensnared the entire university at North Carolina. And at Duke, the NCAA is investigating an allegation that Lance Thomas may have received an improper loan from a jeweler in December 2009.

That said, the triangle connecting Bloomington, Ind., Lexington, Ky., and Louisville is where the best basketball will be found this season. Indiana, Kentucky and Louisville are all strong national championship contenders. The Hoosiers' Cody Zeller might be the nation's best overall player. Louisville returns Peyton Siva, Russ Smith and a healthy Wayne Blackshear. And the only thing Coach John Calipari knows how to do at Kentucky is reload: A star-studded crop of freshmen, led by shot blocker extraordinaire Nerlens Noel, bolsters the Wildcats' hopes of repeating as national champions.

Rick Pitino's Avare (named after his agent) makes an appearance in Las Vegas' updated future odds for Kentucky Derby 2013. No sign of Siva, Gorgui or Russdiculous.

Ray Graham is nearing elite company for Pitt.

Senior running back Ray Graham has only one 100-yard game this season (103 against Cincinnati last month), but if he reaches that mark Saturday against Louisville, it will mean another step up Pitt's all-time rushing list. Graham has 2,648 career yards and is in eighth place after passing Pro Football Hall of Famer Curtis Martin last week. The next target is Elliott Walker (2,748). Graham is averaging 84 yards per game, and if he reaches that standard over the final seven games (not counting a bowl), he will finish second to only Tony Dorsett (6,526). No. 2 on the list is Curvin Richards (3,192), followed by Craig Heyward, Dion Lewis, LeSean McCoy, Billy West and Walker.

Graham has never rushed for more than 75 yards against Louisville. He did not play in last season's 24-17 Panther victory.

And finally, a good story from Eric Crawford on former U of L track star Wesley Korir, who recently finished fifth in the Chicago Marathon.

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