by Frank Martin
Louisville will have had two weeks to dissect its first loss of the season when Connecticut Huskies visits on Saturday. The 18th-ranked Louisville Cardinals lost both a game and leading rusher Senorise Perry to a season-ending knee injury at Syracuse on Nov. 10, but still control their own destiny to a BCS Bowl with two victories. Louisville can’t look ahead to a showdown at Rutgers five days later because the Huskies have played solid defense all season and are coming off their first victory since September.
Connecticut will have deal with Louisville’s versatile offense led by quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who is fifth in the nation in pass efficiency. The Huskies must run the ball like they did against Pittsburgh in the 24-17 victory on Nov. 9 and avoid turnovers, which have plagued them, if they are to pull the upset and keep their bowl hopes alive.
Connecticut Huskies (4-6, 1-4 Big East): The Huskies have lost four straight on the road, averaging 6.3 points in the last three. Running back Lyle McCombs, who rushed for 1,151 yards last season, has averaged 98.3 yards rushing in UConn’s four victories and struggled in all but one of the losses that he has played. McCombs weaved his way for a season-best 120 yards against Pittsburgh, taking pressure off quarterback Chandler Whitmer, who completed 19 of 25 passes. Whitmer has been intercepted 14 times while throwing eight touchdown passes – five to tight end Ryan Griffin. The Huskies are ranked ninth in the nation in total defense.
Louisville Cardinals (9-1, 4-1): Jeremy Wright will get some additional carries with Perry out and he has been no slouch. Wright has rushed for 680 yards and nine touchdowns, just slightly behind Perry in both categories. Bridgewater can handle the extra work as well. The sophomore has thrown 21 touchdown passes and been intercepted only five times. He has five receivers who have at least 24 catches, led by DeVante Parker (six touchdowns) and Damian Copeland (team-high 37 receptions). If Louisville is to win its final two, its defense must step up. The Cardinals have allowed an average of 30.6 points the last five games.
1. Louisville is trying to reach double digits in victories for the fourth time in its history.
2. Connecticut has lost eight straight games against ranked opponents.
3. Louisville has won the last two meetings and leads the series 5-3.
NCAA Football Prediction: Louisville 31, Connecticut 17.
chandler whitmer - connecticut huskies - damian copeland - devante parker - jeremy wright - louisville cardinals - lyle mccombs - ryan griffin - teddy bridgewater