LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (1-0) vs. EASTERN KENTUCKY COLONELS (1-0)
Game Time: Noon
Location: Papa John's Cardinal Stadium: Louisville, Ky.
Announcers: Dave Weekley (play-by-play), John Gregory (analyst) and Rontina McCann (sidelines)
Favorite: Louisville by 40.5
All-Time Series: Louisville leads 17-8-1
Last Meeting: The Cardinals defeated Eastern Kentucky 23-13 on Sept. 11, 2010 in Louisville
Schedule of Events:
If this were a contest between the two video departments, then the spread would be less than 40.5.
About Eastern Kentucky
In its first Thursday night season-opener in 13 years, Eastern Kentucky rolled to a 38-6 win over visiting Robert Morris (heh) last week. The 19th-ranked Colonels scored on four of their first five possessions to take a 28-6 lead at halftime. The Eastern defense began the second half with an interception in its own territory and held the Colonials on downs on their next two possessions to put the game away.
EKU lost a lot of experienced talent from an offense that might have been the most statistically balanced attack I've seen. The goal of their offensive system is to make sure that you can't key on one thing. They like to run the ball until you have to respect it, then they use play action and run formations to create favorable matchups for the passing game. Its how they won the OVC two years ago, and its why they are a popular choice to win it this year even though they only returned 4 starters.
Quarterback Jared McClain played in 6 games last year and his experience showed last weekend as he led the offense flawlessly. He is a perfect fit for an offense that likes to get the ball down the field with play-action bootlegs and deep drop backs. He has a big arm and he can make a defense pay with his legs in the open field. McClain has big shoes to fill with the departure of T.J. Pryor, but he looked the part last week.
McClain should expect decent protection with two of the best guards in the OVC in Justin Meredith and Travon Carter. The offensive line is the only group on the offensive line with any real experience and they will need it against a defense that looks to confuse and overpower with blitzes. The skill position players are all new and will have to take advantage of the opportunities that Louisville's aggression creates. Ohio had three big plays last week and I'm sure EKU's offensive coordinator noticed that Louisville only had one safety deep on each play. McClain has the arm to get the ball there and his line might be able to get him enough time to get the ball outside to outside to a playmaker.
KEY PLAYERS: QB Jared McClain, LG Travon Carter, RG Justin Meredith, RB Caleb Watkins
Louisville will face its second straight basic 4-3 defense. EKU returned a lot of experience on defense and they all but shutdown Robert Morris' offense last week. They aren't a pressure based defense persay, but they do make a good amount of plays behind the line with different blitzes and packages. The immediate thing that stood out to me was the size of the defense. They have the perfect blend of size inside with speed on the edges. They start two 300-pounders at tackle with two quick defensive ends that get up the field well. Their linebackers all held their ground well last week and can all run pretty well, also.
Louisville's passing game lit up Ohio's secondary from the word go last week and it will be up to the Colonels undersized corners to stay with their man to curb that this week. Both starters are 5-8 which is shorter than any receiver they will line up against Saturday. The pass defense was the weak spot of the defense at times last year, giving up 21 touchdown passes. However, it also had 16 interceptions and the defense as a whole pretty much shutdown everyone it faced outside of Purdue. The defensive system works really well with the offensive concept. They like to grind the ball on offense and sustain drives, while stifling people on defense by making you one dimensional.
KEY PLAYERS: OLB Anthony Brown, DE Shawn Shepard, MLB Ichiro Vance
Excitement Level: 7.8
Don't get me wrong, I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about being able to head back to the stadium, but I'm not going to act like there isn't a sizable drop in excitement from last week to this one. This should be the lowest the meter hits all season.
Pregame Meal: Bagels, breakfast casserole, hash browns, fruit, coffee and alcohol.
Game Attire: New Red Louisville Football shirt with old white and red Cardinal bird hat, shorts and U of L tennis shoes.
After one hell of a debut, it's on the 2013 wardrobe to prove it can perform without the proverbial spotlight. Just like the fans...and the team, I guess. There's the same type of pressure on New Red Louisville Football Shirt as there is on Teddy Bridgewater, is what I'm trying to say.
Bold Prediction: The Cards score more rushing touchdowns than passing touchdowns
I'd say that's sufficiently bold after what we saw last week.
Griffin Uhl Playing Alert Level: Wild Blue Yonder (stronger than Chane Behanan's calves).
TDs. Multiple TDs. Dom gon' Dom.
Motivational Opposing Player Tweet(s):
I swear to god I ain't nervous, nahhhhhh!— Patrick Graffree (@PatGraffree) September 5, 2013
To the girl that is wearing a UofL shirt today, you need to be slapped in the throat.— LaJuan Smith (@LaJuan_Smith17) September 5, 2013
--Louisville's 23-13 win over Eastern Kentucky in 2010 was Charlie Strong's first as a head coach.
--This is the 14th straight year that EKU has squared off against an FBS program. Eastern Kentucky is 4-18 against FBS programs since 1978 when the Colonels joined the ranks of the FCS. EKU's last win against an FBS school happened in 1985 when they defeated Louisville, 45-21.
--Eight FCS teams defeated FBS teams in the ﬁrst week of the season including the OVC's Eastern Illinois which defeated San Diego State, 40-19.
--Teddy Bridgewater has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 13 straight games.
--After ranking eighth in the country in third-down conversions last year at nearly 50 percent, Louisville converted 13 of 16 opportunities against Ohio.
--Eastern Kentucky has a wide receiver named Ben DeLa Cruz, making this likely the lone college football showdown featuring opposing DeLa Cruz's this season.
--EKU has won two national championships, one in 1979 and the most recent in 1982.
--Eastern Kentucky, the No. 19 team in FCS, was picked second in the preseason OVC poll behind defending league champion Eastern Illinois.
--A friend of mine went to Western and wears an "EKU has STDs" undershirt to almost every Louisville home game. He's approaching 30.
--Louisville has posted a 71-25 (.739) record in home games since the program moved into Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in 1998.
--EKU was second nationally (FCS) in turnover margin last year at +19. The Colonels were +2 against Robert Morris on Thursday.
--When scoring 20 points or more in a game under the direction of Charlie Strong, the Cardinals' record is 25-6. Louisville also held the Bobcats to just seven points, raising its record to 15-3 when holding opponents to 20 or fewer points.
--A win Saturday would give Louisville its seventh 2-0 start in 11 seasons.
--Eastern Kentucky held Louisville scoreless for the entire second half when the teams last met in 2010.
--A few years ago, some elected official said he was going to make me a Kentucky Colonel and he never came through. I don't remember his name, but I'm still pretty upset about it. Makes me not like EKU.
--Two Cardinal freshmen have changed numbers: wide receiver Richard Benjamin is now No. 81 and defensive back Chucky Williams is now wearing No. 22.
--The Cards are 12-6 in non-conference games under Charlie Strong.
--U of L is 9-3 in September games under Charlie Strong.
--Dating back to 1980, Louisville is 136-14 when scoring 30 or more points in a game.
--"I don't necessarily think we have any concerns. If we go out and play our style of football, which is run to the ball, make big hits and get turnovers, then we will be fine." --EKU DL David Carter
--"The players look at tape, and they know with the type of team that we have now we feel that we're pretty good. The biggest concern) is the letdown, and that's what we can't have is the letdown." --Charlie Strong
--"It's a difficult thing to do, but I think our guys have confidence in the fact that this is the way we prepare, we are going to prepare for this game the same way we prepare for every other game. And if we play our best and some things happen, then anything is possible." --EKU coach Dean Hood
--"It's exciting, but it's just another game for us. We've got to prepare the same way. Have the same intensity all week and come out ready to play." --EKU OL Justin Meredith
--"If you're here with Coach Strong, he takes care of that. We keep our guys in check. We're going to work hard in practice; we're going to get after it in practice. They understand it doesn't matter what happened yesterday. You've got to worry about today." --Vance Bedford
--"We can't approach a game like that. Like Coach Strong tells us, we treat every opponent the same way and work the same way towards every opponent." --Roy Philon Philon Philon
--"(Bridgewater)'s for real. A lot of time there's a lot of media attention around someone who just had one good year. This isn't the case. This kid is legit. They are saying that he will be the first quarterback taken and there's nothing that you watch on film that says that that's not true. He's phenomenal." --EKU coach Dean Hood
--"We're really locked in on defense. We're trying to have the best defense in the nation." --James Burgess
--"Our defense, we fly around to the ball. We pride ourselves on making big hits and getting turnovers. Ohio's defensive line and linebackers didn't put as much pressure on Bridgewater as we plan to. Overall, they are a good offense, but if we play sound defense and play to our abilities then hopefully we will be able to get some sacks on Bridgewater and stop the run." --EKU DL David Carter
--"Preparation's going to be key, coming off a short week. But we're going to attack this game just like we attack any other game. What's key is how we improve from game one to game two." --Charlie Strong
--"We know what it's like to be close to (pulling an upset). Now seeing these other schools doing it, we feel like we can do it, too. We know what we need to do extra to get the job done." --EKU OL Justin Meredith
--"We are going to give them a fight." --EKU DL David Carter
CC Prediction: Louisville 48, Eastern Kentucky 10
And it's not nearly that close.