On Thursday evening, the eighth-ranked Louisville Cardinals (5-0, 1-0) will welcome the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (4-1, 1-0) into Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium for an AAC contest, and what may also be their first true test of this season.
Already having their schedule criticized, Louisville knows that when they do face a credible opponent such as Rutgers, they’re going to need to make the victory look impressive enough so as to not get written off even more than they already have been. This will be their first chance to do so.
Rutgers comes in at 4-1 on the year, including coming off its second 50-point effort of the season in last week’s OT win over SMU. The Knights have been a tough-go for Louisville lately, with the last six meetings between the two being decided by three points or less, which includes Louisville’s 20-17 victory last season.
QB Gary Nova has been more than this team could ask for, with his 13 TD passes on the season being second only to his opponent on Thursday night, Teddy Bridgewater.
This game is huge for Bridgewater, personally, because this gives him the national spotlight all to himself to sway some Heisman voters in his favor with his ability on the field, rather than having them focus on the competition.
But, as far as the team overall goes, they’ll need to almost certainly make sure that this is not another three-point affair, as they need to have a very convincing victory to help ensure that they have a legitimate shot down the road of appearing in the BCS Title Game, should they end up running the table.
Odds: Louisville -21 (via Bovada)
Prediction: While this is a very stout Rutgers team, they are also having some issues finding any sort of consistency in the defense. Bridgewater should indeed have that national breakout performance, and I can see the Cardinals making a statement in this one that they’re ready to contend for that title.
Louisville 31, Rutgers 20