Louisville Cardinals at Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Date – Friday, November 26, 2010
Location – Rutgers Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey
Time – 11:00 am
TV – ESPN2 Mike Gleason (play-by-play), John Congemi (color)
Radio – 840 AM WHAS. Paul Rogers (play-by-play), Stefan LeFors (analyst), Doug Ormay (sidelines)
Series: Rutgers leads 7-2
It’s another 11:00am Black Friday game to wrap up the regular season for Louisville, this time however the Cardinals will be playing to extend their season instead of to get it over with. The Cards will become bowl eligible with a win and likely return to post-season play for the first time since the Petrino era. This has proven to be a difficult feat for the program, as Louisville has dropped their last seven games when attempting to become bowl eligible. In 2008, the Cardinals were 5-2 before dropping five in a row, and have lost their last two attempts to become eligible for post-season play this season.
Something will have to give as an anemic Louisville offense meets a porous Rutgers defense. The Scarlet Knights are coming off a game in which they gave up 69 points to the Bearcats of Cincinnati in the highest scoring game in BIG EAST history. The Cardinals just put up whopping season-low totals of 171 yards of total offense and 26 yards on the ground at home against West Virginia.
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Since the start of conference play, the Louisville offense has been MIA. The Cards are averaging just 19.2 points per game after scoring at a 31.4 clip in non-conference action. They’re also averaging a meager 296.0 yards of total offense and just 4.6 yards per play. In their five out-of-conference games, the Cardinals were unstoppable, posting 461.4 yards of total offense per contest and 6.9 yards a play.
Louisville’s defense on the other hand, has been solid all year long and has continued to improve with each passing week. They held the Mountaineers to 261 yards of total offense, their fifth strait game holding an opponent under 300 yards of total offense. The Cards also scored their first defensive touchdown last Saturday courtesy of Rodney Gnat’s team-high eighth sack. Louisville has now allowed only 302.4 yards of total offense a game on the year, including just 160.8 yards through the air.
Rutgers, one of only four programs to win a bowl game for the past four consecutive seasons, will not be going for five unless they can get a win on Friday and another the following week in West Virginia. The Scarlet Knights are led by true freshman quarterback Chas Dodd, who has started the last six games. Against Cincinnati Dodd threw for 325 yards and four TADAT!s. He also surpassed 300 yards in the Connecticut game, going for 322 and two TADAT!s.
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Dodd’s favorite target is sophomore WR Mark Harrison. Harrison just missed the single game record in Rutgers history against Cincinnati, catching 10 passes for 240 yards and four touchdowns vs. the Bearcats. He is averaging 34.4 yards per touchdown reception, and has caught scores from three different QBs.
The Knights most dangerous threats via the ground are courtesy of Sophomore WR and Wild Knight QB Mohamed Sanu and freshman WR Jeremy Deering. Deering gets most of his touches out of what Jersey Shore folk have dubbed the “Wild Knight” formation. He rushed for 166 yards on 29 attempts against Syracuse.
Sanu is an all-purpose beast. The South Brunswick native leads Rutgers in rushing yards (309), tied for the lead in rushing touchdowns (4) and receptions (41). Sanu is also 6-of-9 passing for 160 yards and three touchdowns out of the Wild Knight.
On the defensive side of the ball, Rutgers is led by Jim Thorpe Award Semi-finalist Joe Lefeged. The defensive back and special teams guru is second on the squad with 68 tackles and leads Rutgers with five pass breakups. He has also forced a team-best three fumbles and in one game, the Scarlet Knights win over FIU, the senior strong safety blocked two punts, forced two fumbles, recorded one interception, broke up a pass and had six tackles.
Senior DE Alex Silvestro leads Rutgers in TFLs (11.5) and sacks (4.5) – with 3.5 of those sacks coming in the past two contests. Senior linebacker Antonio Lowery leads the team in tackles (86) and ranks third in the BIG EAST with 8.6 tackles per game. He has also recovered three fumbles and forced two of them this season.
While Louisville’s offense has no-showed in the conference, they should be able to move the ball – on the ground at least – against the Scarlet Knights. The Cards will punch the ball into the endzone enough to give Louisville a shot at landing a spot in a meaningless bowl game.
Louisville 28, Rutgers 20