LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (0-0) vs. MURRAY STATE RACERS (0-0)
Game Time: 6:02 p.m.
Location: Papa John's Cardinal Stadium: Louisville, Ky.
Announcers: Rob Stone/Danny Kannell/Allison Williams
Favorite: Louisville by 29.5
All-Time Series: Louisville leads 11-6
Last Meeting: Louisville won 73-10 in the 2007 season-opener for both teams.
Excitement Level (1-10): 8.7
A 6 p.m. start time and a season-opener against a team other than Kentucky aren't ideal, but the fact that the Louisville Cardinals are getting this entire season underway is pretty cool.
Game Attire: Grey Louisville football shirt
Even when you have an abundance of young talent (Carmody jersey/pair of U of L Adidas polos), it's still best to send a wiley veteran to the bump on opening day. Grey Louisville football shirt produced a better record than any other piece of clothing last season, and he'll take care of business this evening. Plus, he's going to be accompanied by a fresh hat, so we're not totally stifling the youth movement.
Pre-Game Meal: Buffalo chicken wraps/assorted finger foods/beer. The good life has made a triumphant return.
Predicted Star of the Game: Jeremy Wright
The talk coming out of camp leads me to believe we may have drastically underestimated the type of sophomore season this kid is capable of having.
Bold Prediction: Teddy Bridgewater scores a rushing touchdown. And Card Nation swoons.
Quick Look At Murray State:
Murray State enters the season with one of the most prolific offenses in the FCS. Last season, the Racers ranked fourth nationally in passing offense (313.55), fifth in total offense (449.73) and fifth in scoring offense (36.09).
Quarterback Casey Brockman is one of 20 players named to the Walter Payton Award Watch List. In six starts last season, Brockman threw for 2,442 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also rushed for 292 yards and seven scores. With Brockman as the starter, the Racers averaged 549.7 yards a game of offense, including 364.7 yards through the air, and 44.0 points per game.
Murray State returns all five starters from an offensive line that was considered one of the top five offensive lines in the FCS last season. The unit allowed just 18 sacks in 515 pass attempts, while helping the Racers to average 449.7 yards of offense per game. The line includes junior center Brock Rydecki, junior guard Andy Mahoney, senior guard Elbert Ojendis, senior tackle Raymond Hopson and junior tackle Roderick Tomlin.
The Racer defense is...not as good as the offense.
Head Coach Chris Hatcher became the fifth youngest coach in college football history to record his 100th victory. At the time, Hatcher was 37 years, 274 days. He falls just behind Pop Warner and just ahead of Amos Alonso Stagg.
--Louisville is 29-17-1 all-time against current members of the Ohio Valley Conference. Louisville last faced a school from the OVC last season when the Cardinals beat Eastern Kentucky 23-13 at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Head coach Charlie Strong is 1-0 against OVC teams after last season’s win over EKU. Here is a look at Louisville’s series records against current members of the OVC: 16- 8-1 vs. Eastern Kentucky, 11-6 vs. Murray State, 0-2 vs. Tennessee State, 2-1 vs. Tennessee Tech.
--The Racers are 6-12 against teams from the Big East, with all but one game coming against Louisville. The only other Big East team the Racers played was Connecticut in 2004.
--With 21 red-shirt and true freshman listed on the two-deep going into the Murray State game, there will be plenty of Cardinals seeing their first collegiate action in the season opener. A quick scan of the depth chart shows that as many as seven could be getting their first collegiate start against the Racers. Last year, 10 true fresh- men saw action for the Cardinals.
--Murray State enters the 2011 season with more anticipation than in recent years. The Racers are receiving votes in both the FCS Coaches Poll and The Sports Network poll. MSU is 32nd in the coaches poll and 29th in the TSN poll.
--There will be some familiarity from across the field in the opener as Louisville boasts a former Hatcher assistant. Cardinals wide receivers coach Ron Dugans spent three seasons as the wide receivers coach under Chris Hatcher at Georgia Southern. Also, defensive line coach Kenny Parker played for, and later coached along side Cardinal head coach Charlie Strong. He played for the Gators from 2000-04, before joining the staff as a graduate assistant and an assistant strength and conditioning coach.
--MSU Senior kicker Kienan Cullen is returning home in the 2011 season opener. Cullen, a native of Louisville, played his high school ball at Butler High School. Cullen grew up a fan of the Cardinals, but was not offered a scholarship out of high school. Kienan is the second Cullen kicker to not attend U of L, and return to face the Cardinals. Desi was a punter for Connecticut for four years.
--"This is a young team still searching for an identity, and we're nowhere near where we need to be. We understand that. What's going to be key for us is how quickly we can take this young talent, develop it and with the limited number of seniors we have, provide the leadership necessary to take this program and move it forward." --Charlie Strong
--"We should, hopefully, be dynamic like we were last year. We got guys returning. … We’re excited about the offense. We’re excited about the defense, too. They should be a lot better. But, hopefully, we can put up as big numbers as we did last year." --Murray State QB Casey Brockman
--"It's the same offense. You got a different guy calling the plays which, he has his own way of doing things, but it's the same offense we've run for a long, long time, so that's not even an issue as far as that goes, it's exactly the same." --Murray State head coach Chris Hatcher
--"That's why I say I'm so anxious to get out there on the field and see how we're going to play and how we're going to react because the ball's going to be thrown. We're a pressure team. We love to pressure, so can we hold up and go cover against a good-throwing team." --Charlie Strong
--"I think I can extend plays pretty well. With my size you've got to have different qualities about you as a quarterback. You can't just sit back in the pocket all day, so I can move around, I can make plays. I think I'm an overall smart quarterback. I don't want to sound egotistical or anything, but I know how to manage the team." --Will Stein
--"Murray State will shock Louisville." --Pat Forde
CC Prediction: Louisville 35, Murray State 13
Not the complete thrashing we'd prefer, but it will certainly do.