2011 Prediction & Game Story
Week 10, Louisville at WVU
Big East Fearless Predictions &
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Nov. 5 Louisville 38 … at West Virginia 35
CFN Analysis: So, you don’t want Louisville, Big 12 and ACC? Take this. Big East, at least for the parts planning on sticking around, get ready to enjoy Teddy Bridgewater for another three years. 21-of-27 for 246 yards and a touchdown with a pick he outplayed West Virginia’s Geno Smith, even with his 410 passing yards. The Cardinal special teams were an equalizer with a key blocked field goal for a score, while the UofL punters put it inside the 20 three times. The defense got bombed on, but Bridgewater was up to the task, spreading the ball around well and keeping the mistakes to a minimum. The loss to Cincinnati a few weeks ago is still an issue for the Big East title hopes, but if the Cardinals can find a way to get by a team as good as WVU, they’re good enough to beat Pitt, UConn, and South Florida while hoping for the Bearcats to lose twice.
For once, West Virginia didn’t stink out of the gate and it didn’t need to mount a massive comeback until the fourth quarter, but the defense couldn’t stop Teddy Bridgewater and a key special teams breakdown turned out to be the difference in the shootout. Geno Smith threw for 410 yards and three touchdowns in a brilliant effort, and the team’s two turnovers shouldn’t have been too much to overcome, but there was never a time in the second half when the team could get control after getting down ten. The BCS hopes aren’t gone even after losing two of the last three games, but the defense has to quickly figure out how to bother an opposing quarterback again after getting torched the last few weeks and with Cincinnati’s Zach Collaros up next.
(AP) MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Teddy Bridgewater threw for one touchdown, Andrew Johnson returned a blocked field goal for another score and Louisville shocked No. 24 West Virginia 38-35 Saturday.
Not expected to be a factor in the Big East this season, the surprising Cardinals (5-4, 3-1) won their third straight in a tight race and dealt a severe blow to West Virginia's title chances.
Louisville also got a payback of sorts after being overlooked in the recent Big 12 expansion sweepstakes, a bid that went to the Mountaineers.
Geno Smith threw for 410 yards and three scores but couldn't bring the Mountaineers (6-3, 2-2) back from 10 points down in the fourth quarter.
West Virginia will likely need to win its final three games against Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and South Florida and get some help to have a shot at the league's BCS berth.
Despite being outgained 533-351, Louisville converted all four scoring chances inside the 20-yard line after failing on half its attempts all season.
Three different backs scored rushing touchdowns for Louisville, which broke a four-game losing streak in the series.
Louisville scored a season high and at times it looked as though the Cardinals had the conference's best offense -- not West Virginia, which had trouble at times against the league's No. 1 defense. And the Mountaineers' special teams had another awful day.
Tyler Bitancurt missed one field goal try and had another short one blocked by Adrian Bushell on the first play of the fourth quarter. Johnson picked up the loose ball and went 82 yards to put the Cardinals ahead 31-21.
Smith, who completed 31 of 44 passes but was sacked three times, fumbled the ball away on the next series near midfield. He made up for it on the ensuing 96-yard drive with a 46-yard pass to Ivan McCartney that set up Shawne Alston's 8-yard scoring run with 9 minutes left.
But Louisville ran seven minutes off the clock on a 76-yard drive that included Dominique Brown's 2-yard run on fourth-and-1 at the West Virginia 43. Brown capped the drive with a 3-yard TD run for a 38-28 lead.
Stedman Bailey, who caught eight passes for 118 yards but had two critical drops, scored on a 1-yard pass from Smith with a minute left. But Louisville recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock.
Bridgewater, a freshman, completed 21 of 27 passes for a season-high 246 yards.
He provided a spark just before halftime after an 11-yard punt by West Virginia freshman Michael Molinari. Bridgewater went 5 of 6 on the drive, completing a left-handed shovel pass under pressure before hitting Eli Rogers from 4 yards out to tie the game at 21.
West Virginia went scoreless in the third quarter for the first time all season. Bitancurt missed a 33-yard field goal try after Najee Goode intercepted Bridgewater's first pass of the second half.
A fumble by freshman Andrew Buie at the West Virginia 15 set up Chris Philpott's 39-yard field goal to put Louisville ahead entering the fourth.
Louisville (4-4) at West Virginia (6-2) Nov. 5, 12:00, Big East Network
Here’s The Deal … It’s been a wild past week in Morgantown. On Friday, West Virginia declared its intention to join the Big 12, with the timing of the school’s lift-off date being very much in the air. On Saturday, the Mountaineers overcame a snowstorm and plucky Rutgers in Piscataway, rallying in the second half for a crucial 41-31 victory. With the escape, the program stays in the thick of the Big East race, one of four members that have suffered no more than one league loss at this juncture of the campaign.
You can accuse Charlie Strong’s Louisville squad of a lot of things; lacking fight is absolutely not one of them. Young and offensively challenged, the Cardinals have battled back to the .500 mark with consecutive gut-check wins over Rutgers and Syracuse at home. The team now heads out of town, looking to remain an unlikely contender for league supremacy. They, like the ‘eers, are in the trio of schools just one game in the loss column behind front-running Cincinnati.
Why Louisville Might Win: Defense. Few staffs have done more with less this year than the one in Louisville. The Cardinals continue to excel on D without a lot of obvious star power, ranking no lower than No. 14 nationally in run defense, sacks, tackles for loss, total defense and scoring D. The group has yet to allow more than 25 points in a game in 2011, using an attacking and fundamentally sound unit to stifle opponents. The Mountaineers attack is going to get frustrated by the range and intensity of back seven defenders, such as linebackers Dexter Heyman and Preston Brown, and S Hakeem Smith. The way the Cards slow down a game, and deliver the payload will get in the heads of high-flying West Virginia.
Why West Virginia Might Win: The Mountaineers won’t score as much as they normally do. It won’t matter to the outcome since Louisville is home to one of the lowest-scoring teams in America. The Cards are still feeling their way through with rookie Teddy Bridgewater behind center, putting up only 17 points and 329 yards a game. West Virginia, on the other hand, can counter with a prolific, quick-strike offense that’s scored at least 41 points in three of the last four games. Where the visitors will have Bridgewater, the hosts will boast Geno Smith, who has thrown 20 touchdown passes to only five picks. The junior is surrounded by a swath of exciting playmakers, such as receivers Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin and Ivan McCartney.
What To Watch Out For: Welcome back to a feature role, Shawne Alston. West Virginia’s junior running back, who showed flashes of being an every-down player late last fall, played an integral role in last weekend’s victory. Without much warning, he earned a season-high 14 carries for a career-high 110 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. The powerful 5-11, 221-pounder gives the Mountaineers another dimension on offense, and a very different look than the quickness and stop-and-start moves of true freshman Dustin Garrison.
What Will Happen: Louisville sure is a plucky, well-coached bunch, but it’s not quite ready to go on the road to beat West Virginia. Oh, it’ll make the Mountaineers earn everything they get on Saturday afternoon, but it just won’t have enough pop on offense to win a third straight game. The ‘eers will need to employ all of their balance and weapons on this day, leaning on the broadening shoulders of Smith to escape the upset-minded Cards. Although West Virginia has been erratic of late, most of its shoddy play, especially on defense, has been reserved for road trips. In Morgantown, it’ll feed off the home crowd to stay in the hunt for a Big East crown.
CFN Prediction: West Virginia 28 … Louisville 17
Click For Latest Line From ATS: West Virginia
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