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at Cincinnati 25 … Louisville 16

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Oct 15, 2011


Week 7 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Louisville at Cincinnati


2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 7 - Louisville at Cincinnati

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Oct. 15 at Cincinnati 25 … Louisville 16
CFN Analysis: It might have taken a little while to get the offense moving, but Louisville’s attack couldn’t stick it in the end zone and the Bearcat D tightened up in the second half. Zach Collaros was accurate, but he couldn’t come up with any deep plays and only managed 152 yards and a 26-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Woods. Isaiah Pead took control of the attack with 151 yards and a brilliant 50-yard run to all but put the game away. The punting game continues to be a major strength with Pat O’Donnell averaging close to 41 yards per kick and keeping the struggling Louisville offense pinned deep. With four of the next five games on the road, UC couldn’t blow the Big East opener.

The Cardinals had to convert drives into touchdowns instead of field goals when they had the chance. The attack is averaging just 16.4 points per game going into this weekend, and while Chris Philpott came up with a great game in the breezy conditions, hitting three field goals, the only touchdown came on a pick-six from Mike Evans. Teddy Bridgewater was solid, throwing for 195 yards with a pick, but the offense was stagnant in the second half and the defense hit a wall. There were chances to take control of the game, but Bridgewater couldn’t move the chains. With three of the next four games at home, starting with Rutgers, the season might hinge on a win next week.

(AP) CINCINNATI -- Isaiah Pead made two quick cutbacks and ran 50 yard for the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter Saturday, rallying Cincinnati to a 25-16 victory over Louisville in the Big East opener for both teams.

Cincinnati (5-1) got its first victory in three games at the stadium of the NFL's Bengals. The Bearcats overcame four fumbles, which they all recovered, and a costly interception thrown by Zach Collaros. Mike Evans returned an interception 63 yards for a touchdown to give Cincinnati a 16-7 lead with 6 seconds left in the half.

Collaros ran 1 yard for a touchdown on a fourth-and-goal, and Pead scored for the sixth straight game, sending Louisville (2-4) to its third straight loss. Pead had 151 yards on 20 carries against the Big East's top defense.

Louisville's offense struggled again, managing only three field goals despite trying two quarterbacks.

The game drew 40,971 fans -- 171 fewer than the Bengals had for their last home game.

Louisville came in with the Big East's top defense, allowing no more than 24 points in any game. The problem: Louisville hadn't scored more than 24 in any game, either.

The Cardinals stalled in the last two games after quarterback Will Stein went down with a shoulder injury. Freshman Teddy Bridgewater took over and led them to only 20 points in two losses. Plus, running back Victor Anderson missed a second straight game Saturday with a sprained ankle.

That wasn't all. Chris Philpott had made only 2 of 5 field goal attempts this season, missing two during a 14-7 loss to North Carolina a week earlier.

Philpott made field goals of 42, 51 and 18 yards on a blustery afternoon, putting the Cardinals up 9-7 late in the half. The last field goal was set up by Bridgewater's perfect throw down the sideline to Eli Rogers for a 58-yard gain.

The Cardinals then got their first defensive touchdown of the season when the interception return made it 16-7 at halftime. Collaros shook it off and led the Bearcats back.

He made a gamble pay off in the third quarter. The Bearcats went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1, and Collaros took it in off a draw play, cutting the lead to 16-14.

Louisville self-destructed, piling up two false starts, an illegal formation and a holding penalty on one series that set up a third-and-38 and led to a punt. Two plays later, Pead was off on his decisive 50-yard touchdown run. Collaros completed a pass for the 2-point conversion.

Bridgewater finished 17 of 28 for 195 yards with an interception and four sacks. His fourth-and-3 pass at midfield fell incomplete with 3:05 left, ending Louisville's last chance to catch up. Pead had runs of 21 and 12 yards, setting up the clinching field goal with 1:21 to go.

Louisville (2-3) at Cincinnati (4-1) Oct. 15, 12:00, Big East TV Network

Here’s The Deal … Louisville and Cincinnati meet this weekend at Paul Brown Stadium in the 51st Battle for the Keg of Nails. The Bearcats will enter the rivalry game confident and well-rested after sitting out last weekend with a bye. Winners of three consecutive games, all by at least 27 points, the program is enjoying a peak in confidence under second-year head coach Butch Jones. Cincy has begun to show glimpses of the Brian Kelly teams that won back-to-back Big East titles in 2008 and 2009. With an upcoming four-game stretch versus South Florida, Pitt, West Virginia and Rutgers, the Bearcats can ill-afford any loss of momentum at this stage of the season.

The Cardinals are still feeling their way through the first half of 2011, a painful process associated with playing so many inexperienced players. Louisville has dropped three of the last four games for its own second-year leader, Charlie Strong, including an uninspired 14-7 effort in Chapel Hill to North Carolina last Saturday. If the Cards drop too far below .500, hopes for a second-straight bowl berth will go dim.

Why Louisville Might Win: As the program as a whole struggles, the defense seems to be getting better. The Cardinals lead the Big East in total D, yielding less than 300 yards a game, and are giving up just 16 points a game. Built in Strong’s image, the attacking unit is especially solid against the run. It’s going to force the issue with an aggressive front seven featuring linemen Greg Scruggs and Roy Philon, and linebackers Dexter Heyman and Daniel Brown. How effective is the Louisville pass rush? Heck, sophomore DE Marcus Smith came off the bench last Saturday to register three sacks against a usually solid Carolina O-line.

Why Cincinnati Might Win: Louisville has no chance of matching the offensive firepower of the Bearcats, which is fueled by QB Zach Collaros, RB Isaiah Pead and an improving corps of receivers. The Cards are an unadulterated mess on offense, replete with in-season staff gyrations, a raw rookie quarterback and a Big East-low 16 points a game. The Cincinnati defense, on the other hand, has been one of the league’s big surprises this season. The D has given up just 28 points over the last three games, and continues to make a slew of game-changing, money plays. A flimsy Louisville O-line will have a particularly hard time containing linemen Derek Wolfe and Dan Giordano.

What To Watch Out For: If a shoulder injury to Louisville QB Will Stein keeps true freshman Teddy Bridgewater on the field, it’s going to be a recipe for turnovers on Saturday afternoon. Now, he has a great future with the Cardinals, but he’s also inexperienced with his reads and his decisions. And Cincinnati has been making other teams pay as well as anyone in the league outside of Rutgers. Third nationally in takeaways behind South Carolina and the Scarlet Knights, the Bearcats have nine picks and nine fumble recoveries in five games. While J.K. Schaffer has a team-high three picks, the disruption has been a team effort, with a multitude of participants.

What Will Happen: Two teams traversing completely different paths will continue down those roads this weekend. Cincinnati is playing well on both sides of the ball. Louisville is not. While the Cardinals defense will keep this game from getting out of hand, their offense will prevent anything more than just a moral victory. Collaros and Pead will work hard for their yards, but will also provide enough key conversions to get separation, and help the Bearcats to a fourth straight win.

CFN Prediction: Cincinnati 28 … Louisville 13
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Cincinnati -17   O/U: 49

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