Week 5 – Louisville at Southern Miss

Posted Sep 26, 2012

Week 5 CFN Fearless Prediction – Louisville at Southern Miss

-CFN Fearless Predictions
Louisville (4-0) at Southern Miss (0-3) Sept. 29, 8:00, CBS Sports Network

Here's The Deal: No. 19 Louisville is still the top-rated Big East team, but it suddenly has company in the conference penthouse. As the Cardinals have flashed soft areas in recent wins over North Carolina and Florida International, Rutgers has been beating South Florida and Arkansas to steal some of the thunder in league circles. Even in starting 4-0 for the first time in six years, the program has shown its youth at times, and has just one more game before conference play starts with a trip to Pittsburgh in two weeks. Southern Miss has been a dramatic disappointment so far, starting 0-3 for the first time in 36 years, and already dropping more games than it did all of last season. Very little has gone right in losses to Nebraska, East Carolina and Western Kentucky, a 25-point blowout, creating an early air of despair in Hattiesburg for first-year head coach Ellis Johnson.

Why Louisville Might Win: Special teams aside, Southern Miss has been a catastrophe across the board. Louisville will particularly enjoy putting another dent in the Golden Eagles D. USM can't get to the quarterback, and has allowed at least 560 yards in two of its three games. The Cardinals will move the ball at will with a balanced offense averaging 33 points a game. QB Teddy Bridgewater continues to be an accurate, mistake-free distributor, while backs Senorise Perry and Jeremy Wright might both contend for 1,000 yards on the ground. If the Cards commit to putting two helmets on Bandit Jamie Collins, Bridgewater will have all day to find an open man.

Why Southern Miss Might Win: Louisville has shown some cracks on defense, especially in the secondary, a byproduct of a necrotic pass rush. Whoever takes snaps at quarterback—three Eagles were employed last week—should be able to set his feet and locate one of his receivers. Running on the Cardinals' 16th-ranked run D figures to be considerably tougher. However, Southern Miss still has faith in a deep stable of running backs that includes Desmond Johnson, Kendrick Hardy and Jeremy Hester. If the Eagles can keep the game close, it'll alleviate some of the pressure from the erratic trio of quarterbacks.

What To Watch Out For: If Louisville is going to remain ranked and go on to represent the Big East in a BCS bowl game, it'll have to start getting to the quarterback real soon. Is this the week that the Cards finally heed head coach Charlie Strong's directive by making the other team's passer uncomfortable in the pocket? It could be. The Southern Miss O-line has been awful so far, yielding 10 sacks in three games, which could open the door for one of the underachieving linemen to make some noise.

What Will Happen: Southern Miss has become a Southern Mess that won't be cleaned up against visiting Louisville. No, the Cardinals have not been crisp of late, but their talent gap, especially at quarterback, is pronounced compared to this week's opponent. Bridgewater and his teammates will exploit a Golden Eagles defense that was lost a week ago against Western Kentucky. And the Louisville D won't be challenged by a one-dimensional offense struggling to find a viable option under center.

CFN Prediction: Louisville 37 … Southern Miss 17
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Louisville -10.5 O/U: 49.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Ryder Cup 2012, 1 – SNL Thursday Weekend Update): 2