2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 2 - FIU at Louisville
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Sept. 9 - FIU 24 … at Louisville 17
CFN Analysis: The offense might not have worked all that well outside of two big plays from T.Y. Hilton, and the running game went absolutely nowhere, but with defense and home runs, FIU came up with its first win over a BCS team. It doesn’t matter how it happened; this is a Sun Belt team beating an FBS squad, and it was a huge moment for Mario Cristobal’s program. While the team came up with the win, and the defense was tremendous, highlighted by the Winston Fraser 71-yard pick six in the first quarter, this was Hilton’s day with seven catches for 201 yards and scoring grabs from 74 and 83 yards away. While UCF might not be an FBS team, if FIU can win next week’s battle, then it’s Game On for a truly special season with the two tough remaining game – Duke and Troy – at home.
This is a major embarrassment for Louisville, but after the way it played against Murray State, it wasn’t shocking. The defense held FIU to nine first downs, and 157 of the 293 yards allowed came on two plays to T.Y. Hilton in the second quarter, but the Cardinal offense didn’t do enough to take advantage of the opportunities. This isn’t a team built to make big comebacks, and while it did its best late, and while the O held on to the ball for over 36 minutes, the running game wasn’t there to balance out a 349-yard passing game from Will Stein, and the points were too hard to come by. The team is really, really young, and there are still too many big mistakes.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Winston Fraser returned an interception 71 yards, and T.Y. Hilton scored touchdowns on his first two catches as FIU upset Louisville 24-17 on Friday night, the Panthers' first win in six tries against the Big East Conference.
The Panthers (2-0) never trailed as Fraser stepped in front of a pass by Will Stein and ran up the left sideline for the TD midway through the first quarter. Hilton had a school-record 201 yards receiving, and the Panthers had five sacks and two turnovers in the big win for the defending Sun Belt Conference champs.
Louisville (1-1) had never played FIU before, and the Cardinals had been 25-8 against nonconference opponents since joining the Big East in 2005.
But these Cardinals are very young in coach Charlie Strong's second season, and he had no one who could keep up with Hilton, let alone stop the receiver.
Will Stein threw for a career-high 349 yards and two touchdowns, the last a 26-yarder to DeVante Parker with 1:49 left to cap an 80-yard drive to try to rally the Cardinals. Louisville tried the onside kick only to see FIU recover the ball. The Panthers couldn't pick up a first down to run out the clock and had to punt the ball back with 38 seconds left and 97 yards to go.
Facing fourth-and-1, Stein completed a pass to Scott Radcliff who fumbled and FIU recovered to clinch the upset.
Hilton, the do-it-all senior being promoted for the Heisman Trophy, didn't touch the ball on offense until early in the second quarter. Hilton only needed two quick catches, the first off a slant from Wesley Carroll on third-and-4 as the receiver easily beat defenders for a 74-yard touchdown and a 14-3 lead.
Hilton did it again on the next drive, this time on third-and-11. He got behind the defenders, caught the ball, and no one came close to him as he finished off an 83-yard TD catch putting the Panthers up 21-3 with 9:28 left in the second quarter.
Louisville cut down its turnovers from an opening win over Murray State, and the Cardinals held the ball for more than 36 minutes, rolling up more yards in total offense (446-293). The Cardinals couldn't match the quick-strike offense of FIU and Hilton as they bogged down near the end zone.
Sam Miller and Tourek Williams had two sacks apiece for FIU with Williams' two coming on the same drive late in the fourth as the Cardinals tried to rally.
Stein capped a drive with a TD pass to Josh Chichester, but the 6-foot-8 sophomore's left foot landed on the end line out of bounds before they settled for a 30-yard field goal from Chris Philpott to pull within 7-3. Strong put in freshman Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback for a series before going back to the 5-10 Stein.
The junior managed to drive Louisville 89 yards and tossed a 6-yard TD pass to Michaelee Harris just before halftime to pull the Cardinals within 21-10.
FIU led 24-10 in the fourth quarter when Louisville drove 80 yards downfield before bogging down with fourth-and-1 at the FIU 7. The Panthers stuffed Jeremiah Wright for a 4-yard loss to stop another Cardinals' drive short of the end zone.
© 2011 The Associated Press
Florida International (1-0) at Louisville (1-0) Sept. 9, 7:00, ESPN
Here’s The Deal … After beginning the year with double-digit victories, Louisville and Florida International are targeting a 2-0 start as the schedule gradually begins to improve. The Cardinals started quickly before tapping the brakes in a pedestrian 21-9 victory over Murray State. They went the final 43 minutes without scoring a single point, a level of futility that cannot turn into a trend.
Head coach Charlie Strong is looking for the kind of week-over-week improvement that he can carry into the Week 3 Governor’s Cup showdown with rival Kentucky. The Golden Panthers picked up where they left off last season, routing North Texas, 41-16, in an easier-than-anticipated Sun Belt Conference game. Mario Cristobal’s kids were in midseason form on Thursday night, scoring four first quarter touchdowns and never looking back. Since Louisville’s roster is littered with Florida kids, there could be a little extra chatter on the field when the two meet on Friday night.
Why Florida International Might Win: Considering it was an opener on a wet night, the Golden Panthers were surprisingly sharp in all phases of Week 1. The offense was balanced, getting 193 yards passing from Wesley Carroll and 208 evenly-dispersed yards on the ground. Backs Darriet Perry and Kedrick Rhodes each scored twice, and versatile WR T.Y. Hilton will make plays in a multitude of different ways. The Florida International D actually pitched a shutout, holding Mean Green star back Lance Dunbar to 43 yards on 18 carries. If the Louisville offense is going to snap out of its funk, someone will have to get a hat on DE Greg Hickman, LB Winston Fraser and S Jonathan Cyprien.
Why Louisville Might Win: A suspect Florida International O-line will struggle to withstand the pressure and intensity of Strong’s defense. The Cardinals like to get after their opponents, rotating liberally and attacking whenever possible. Murray State managed just one touchdown, while getting picked off three times. Louisville plays with a swarming mentality, generating heat out of the back seven from linebackers Preston Brown, Dexter Heyman and Daniel Brown. The trio combined for 31 stops in the opener, making its presence felt all over the field. The Cards don’t allow many big plays, wrapping up and preventing yards after contact.
What To Watch Out For: This game will be won on the offensive line, a concern area for both programs. Establishing the running game and protecting the pocket will be crucial in order to make life a little easier on Carroll and Louisville QB Will Stein. The Cards broke in five new starters up front, citing C Alex Kupper and rookie RG Jake Smith for their work in the Murray State game. The Golden Panthers’ challenge will be to free up Rhodes and Perry, while keeping linemen Greg Scruggs and William Savoy out of Carroll’s face.
What Will Happen: The Cardinals better be on upset alert because Florida International is looking for more than just a paycheck when it comes to Papa John’s Stadium. And it possesses the talent to stay with an average Big East team for all four quarters. In a low-scoring game dictated by the defenses, Louisville will survive a hard-fought, at times sloppy contest on the strength of its D and special teams. When the offense stalls, PK Chris Philpott will step up to provide the needed points.
CFN Prediction: Louisville 22 … Florida International 19
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