Week 4 - Louisville at FIU

Posted Sep 19, 2012

Week 4 CFN Fearless Prediction – Louisville at FIU

Louisville (3-0) at Florida International (1-2) Sept. 22, 7:00, ESPNU

Here's The Deal: Louisville, the emerging face of the Big East in 2012, earned an important victory over North Carolina this past weekend to rise to No. 20 in the latest AP poll. While the score was close, 39-34, the Cardinals were actually dominant before letting down their guard in the final quarter. The program heads out on the road for the first time this year, a business trip to Florida, where a lot of Charlie Strong's recruits and current players call home. Florida International began the season with such high hopes, but has been a disappointment through the first three games. While the Sun Belt Conference has improved its reputation this month, the Golden Panthers have stumbled with losses to Duke and UCF, and a narrow escape of lowly Akron in overtime.

Why Louisville Might Win: Fueled by the play of young quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, the Cardinals offense has improved each week. Defense has been at the core of Florida International's slow start, and Louisville is going to pepper it with different looks. Bridgewater has operated like a surgeon through the first three games, rarely making a mistake as he spreads the ball to his receivers and tight ends. The Cards can also move the chains with a heavy dose of power. The O-line is capable and experienced, creating plenty of daylight for physical running backs Senorise Perry and Jeremy Wright.

Why Florida International Might Win: No one has been running successfully on Strong's defense. But the Golden Panthers sure are going to try this Saturday evening. Florida International will have to establish the run in order to have a legitimate shot at the upset in Miami. Its best talent is clearly in the backfield. Jake Medlock is a dual-threat behind center, running for 141 yards in the team's only win. Behind No, 12, all-star Kedrick Rhodes and Darian Mallary form a solid one-two punch in the running game, with the latter already scoring five touchdowns from off the bench.

What To Watch Out For: Louisville has got to start causing a little more disruption on defense, or else the better passing quarterbacks on the schedule are going to shred the secondary. The Cardinals are 99th nationally in sacks and 115th in tackles for loss, which is a huge reason why Carolina QB Bryn Renner went berserk against them in Week 3. With Big East play just around the corner, Louisville needs to use this week to locate someone on the front seven who can get off the blocks and into opposing backfields with a lot more regularity.

What Will Happen: Strong has his Cardinals focused and slowly creeping north in the polls. The offense is playing very well around Bridgewater, while the D still needs to plug a few holes. Louisville will build an early behind its overall edge in physicality, this time holding on without having to hold its breath in the waning moments. While the Golden Panthers of the last two years would have been dangerous in this spot, the 2012 edition has played as if it's been declawed.

CFN Prediction: Louisville 41 … Florida International 17
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Louisville -13 O/U: 57
Must Watch Rating (5 – Ray Lewis: A Football Life, 1 – Frankenweenie): 2