by Frank Martin
Louisville has a great chance to remain undefeated until its regular-season finale if it simply wins the games it should win, but the No. 14 Cardinals' toughest test of the season until then awaits Friday when they host Cincinnati Bearcats in the 52nd “Battle for the Keg of Nails.” All but one of Louisville Cardinals’s victories has come against teams under .500 and the only other opponent left on its schedule after the Bearcats that owns a winning record is No. 15 Rutgers – another of the 11 remaining unbeaten FBS teams.
In order to hold up their end of a potential showdown of undefeated teams on Nov. 29, the Cardinals will need to play better than they did in last Saturday’s 27-25 home victory over two-win South Florida. Cincinnati suffered its first setback last weekend despite not allowing an offensive touchdown in a 29-23 loss at Toledo.
Cincinnati Bearcats (5-1, 1-0 Big East): The Bearcats have eclipsed 425 yards of total offense in every game this season and enter this contest averaging a Big East-best 467.5 yards. Much of the credit for that mark goes to the conference’s best rushing attack that has generated at least 200 yards in all but one game and 250 yards four times. Running back Ralph Abernathy (6.6), running back George Winn (6.3) and quarterback Munchie Legaux (6.0) lead the conference in yards per carry. Winn also ranks second in the Big East with 607 rushing yards.
Louisville Cardinals (7-0, 2-0): A successful ground game will be important to protect a Cardinals' defense that has surrendered a conference-high 14 touchdown passes. Louisville, which ranks second in the conference in rushing, will undoubtedly try to enjoy the same success on the ground against Cincinnati that Toledo did when it gashed the Big East’s second-ranked rush defense for 229 yards. However, the Cardinals can also lean on quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who leads the conference in passer rating (165.2) and ranks third in the nation in completion percentage (73.4).
1. Cincinnati leads the all-time series 29-21-1 and has claimed each of the last four meetings.
2. The Cardinals are 4-0 in games decided by less than seven points.
3. The Bearcats have won five straight and nine of their last 10 against ranked conference opponents, including their last five away from home.
NCAA Football Prediction: Cincinnati 24, Louisville 20.
cincinnati bearcats - george winn - louisville cardinals - munchie legaux - ralph abernathy - teddy bridgewater