Thursday Night Football: Louisville at Rutgers
by Matt Severance - 12/04/2008
Charlie Weis and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will a have close eye on tonight's game, as a Rutgers victory over Louisville will give the Big East its full allotment of seven-win bowl-eligible teams and would send the 6-6 Irish scurrying to find another bowl. Also, if Rutgers wins, assuring it of a bowl berth, the Scarlet Knights would become just the seventh team in NCAA history to earn one after a 1-5 start. They are a 10.5-point favorite on BookMaker.
On the other hand, Louisville must win to get to .500 and get bowl eligible in what has been a disappointing season; in fact, a victory might not even be enough to earn a bowl invite, but it will keep UL from its first losing season since 1997. But if the Cards (1-5 on the road in the Big East the past two seasons) pull the upset, Notre Dame likely is headed to the Big East tie-in Sun Bowl.
If you go by recent results, this game should be an easy choice: The Scarlet Knights have won five games in a row by an average of 20 points, while the Cardinals have dropped four straight.
Rutgers QB Mike Teel has turned his season around and is first in the Big East in passing yards with 2,652 yards to go with 16 TDs and 12 interceptions. In fact, with 1,220 yards over Rutgers' last four wins, Teel has thrown for more yards than all but two passers in I-A since the last week of October.
"I guess it's good company to be in," said Teel, who trails only Texas Tech's Graham Harrell and Houston's Case Keenum in passing yards since Oct. 25. "It would be nice if it had gone on throughout the whole year."
He faces a Cards' defensive secondary that is very young and a pass defense that ranks 80th in the country. That could mean a big night for Teel and WR Kenny Britt (78 catches, 1,191 yards, five TDs), who is 42 yards shy of breaking the single-season school record for receiving yards. Over the last five games, Britt has 41 receptions for 727 yards and now leads the nation in receiving yards per game (119.1).
Louisville's strength is a ground attack averaging 175 yards per game, led by freshman RB Victor Anderson's 1,034 yards and eight touchdowns. QB Hunter Cantwell has been up-and-down this year, with turnovers really killing the Cards in 2008 - UL has turned the ball over six times total in its five wins compared to 22 times in six losses. Cantwell has as many TD passes (15) as picks. Louisville is 108th in the country in turnover margin and has had five turnovers in two of the past three games.
Rutgers leads the all-time series 5-2 but lost 41-38 to Louisville last year.
Bet on Louisville-Rutgers at BookMaker.