2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 1 - Murray St at Louisville
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Sept. 1 Louisville 21 … Murray State 9
CFN Analysis: The Cardinals came out effective with Will Stein coming up with a nice, effective game completing 17-of-32 passes for 226 yards and two sores, but the running game was mediocre as the revamped offensive line struggled to generate a push. And then the O fell totally flat. The four turnovers were a big problem and the ten penalties killed any semblance of consistency, but the big problem was the inability to finish off drives. The Cardinals put it away early with a 21-0 lead, and the defense did its part against a dangerous Murray State offense, but the mistakes have to be kept to a minimum against FIU next week. Star quarterback recruit Teddy Bridgewater was supposed to see plenty of time, but he only threw one pass and it got picked off.
By Beth Rucker
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Will Stein threw two touchdowns and 226 yards as Louisville beat Murray State 21-9 in season opener for both teams on Thursday night.
Stein was on the run when he hit DeVante Parker on a 39-yard pass for the freshman's first catch that gave Louisville a three-touchdown lead with 13:20 in the third quarter.
Stein also threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Scott Radcliff with 5:10 left in the first quarter. A botched punt by Murray State put the Cardinals right back in the red zone, and Vic Anderson ran 2 yards for a touchdown with 3:12 in the first.
The Racers had averaged 549.7 yards of offense and 44 points per game in Casey Brockman's previous six starts, but the Ohio Valley Conference preseason player of the year finished 17-of-34 for 148 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns. Mike Harris ran 26 times for 116 yards and a touchdown.
Murray State (0-0) at Louisville (0-0) Sept. 1, 6:00 ET, ESPN U
Here’s The Deal … Head coach Charlie Strong’s second season will take place under the bright lights of national television, with his Cardinals meeting in-state FCS foe Murray State in college football’s opening game of the 2011 season. The Cardinals return to the gridiron off of a surprising 7-6 record in the 2010 season, capped off with a win in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl against Southern Mississippi. With a fairly lax schedule in the early part of the season before facing Kentucky for the Governor’s Cup in Week 4, the Cardinals need a big game against Murray State to build confidence and gain experience for the younger players. This should not be a major task, with the Cardinals maintaining an all-time record of 24-7 against FCS opponents, the last loss coming to then Division 1-AA Marshall in 1987. However, for Murray State, the matchup against the Cardinals will be its only chance in 2011 to deliver an upset over an FBS opponent.
Why Louisville Might Win: If history is any indication, the Cardinals should not have an issue against the Racers on this night. Be that as it may, it seems like one or two FCS upsets occur each season, and the Cardinals do not want to be a part of one to open up 2011. The strong point of the Cardinals squad entering this year is undoubtedly the defense. Returning eight starters on defense is one thing, but when one of those players is S Hakeem Smith, the odds are tilted even more in the Cardinals’ favor. Smith led the defensive unit in 2010 with 88 tackles en route to being named the Big East Rookie of the Year. Should Smith continue his impressive play to debut his sophomore season, the Racers will have a load of trouble on its hands trying to develop a passing game. Offensively, the Cardinals are breaking in some new faces in many key positions, however, senior RB Victor Anderson is no stranger to the field. After sitting out most of the 2009 and 2010 seasons due to injury, the former Big East Rookie of the Year is healthy yet again and looking to pick up where he left off after his debut season in 2008.
Why Murray State Might Win: While the Racers may be a FCS program, they are no slouch. Murray State returns 19 starters from the 2010 season and has been ranked as high as No. 21 in preseason football publications, with many of its key position players landing on preseason All-American and Walter Camp Award watch lists. Starting QB Casey Brockman returns for his second season heading up the Racers after putting up a respectable performance in 2010 of over 2,400 yards passing and 23 total touchdowns, while RB Mike Harris looks to build off his 904 yards rushing performance in the 2010 season. The Racers also return a talented defensive backfield, led by Dontrell Johnson. While Louisville returns an experienced defensive unit, the Murray State offense could be the x-factor in deciding this contest. And with Louisville’s offense working in new players at the quarterback and running back positions, not to mention replacing nearly the entire offensive line, if the inexperience shows and the game is kept low-scoring, don’t be surprised to the Racers pull off the upset.
What To Watch Out For: In his freshman season, Louisville’s Anderson became the first Cardinals freshman to win the Big East Rookie of the Year award. Injuries in the previous two years, however, have hampered what looked then to be a remarkable career in-the-making. Anderson appears to be back in first-year form, with an impressive performance under his belt in both spring and fall practice. If Anderson remains healthy, he could be in the running for top running back in the Big East. However, don’t be so fast to anoint Anderson the best running back in this game just yet. Harris is coming off an impressive season where he notched 904 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. Both backs fit the bill well of tough, between-the-tackles runners, however, Harris has the key supporting cast which could make the difference in this game. While Louisville is looking to rebuild its offensive line, Murray State is returning most, if not all of its line among 10 returning offensive starters, for Harris to navigate behind.
What Will Happen: While it’s a matchup between FCS and FBS teams, the score on the field will not entirely reflect that disparity. The talent level of Louisville will eventually push it over the top in the contest. However, Murray State’s high-powered offensive attack will find tough going against the Cardinals defensive secondary. A Smith interception early in the fourth quarter, and strong running performance by Victor Anderson late in the game should seal the deal for Louisville, who’ll open 2011 with a hard-fought victory.
CFN Prediction: Louisville 24 … Murray State 14
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