I believe Louisville will beat Houston tonight.

I think that the Cougars are probably a better team than they will ever get correct for. They have a high-powered offense that can score on a lot of teams in College Football and a defense that never gets the credit they deserve. They are good. On Saturday night, Louisville will be better. Why? Because of it’s defense, the only thing that can stop a shootout is a talented defense that refuses to let it happen — that’s Louisville’s.

Louisville’s Defensive Line vs Kenneth Farrow:

How much has Louisville learned from it’s loss against Central Florida? Kenneth Farrow will find out tonight. Knight RB Storm Johnson rushed for 188 yards against Louisville on what misdirection runs nearly each time he touched the ball. He set the blueprint for how to beat Louisville’s stingy defense. Run to one side, break the seal the other, cut back and Louisville’s defense has been to aggressive to the wrong side. Even if a play like this wasn’t in the Houston Cougar playbook before this week, I’m sure it will be now. Why wouldn’t be? It was so effective for Central Florida.

Farrow will easily be the second best RB that Louisville has seen this year. He was out of action for the first two games of the season for the Cougars, but since coming back he’s accounted for 42% of their rushing yards. He’s averaged 9.1 yards per carry which tops the AAC. Louisville will need to count on stopping Farrow at the point of attack, because once in the open field he’s been hard to stop. Look for DT Brandon Dunn – who the Coaching Staff has praised heavily for his rapid improvement – to come up big tonight.

Turnover Battle:

This could be the one key that decides if Houston pulls the upset tonight. The Cougars don’t win if they can’t turn their opponent over. The statistics prove that. If Louisville can take care of the ball tonight, I don’t think Houston has any chance. That will surely be a tall task.

The Houston Cougars rank #1 in the Country in the turnover game, averaging a +2 advantage each time they take they field. Louisville, not to be outdone, is #2 in the Country averaging a +1.5 average per game. Either something gives tonight or will see a lot of angry coaches. Odds are a heavy favorite that it’s a little of both of those things.

Houston generally does it through the air rather than relying on fumbles. They have 18 interceptions on year and 14 fumbles. Teddy Bridgewater hasn’t exactly been friendly to opposing defenses and has thrown only 3 interceptions on the year. The Freshman QB John O’Korn for Houston has been a bit different and thrown 3 more this season but 2 last week against Central Florida. Louisville’s defense has had 13 interceptions on the season. Name a time that Bridgewater has thrown multiple interceptions in a game?

I’ll give the advantage to the Cardinals here.

Teddy Bridgewater will need to bring it [and have time to do so]:

One would expect that Teddy Bridgewater will be on his ‘A’ game tonight but he’ll need to be. There have been a few times in his career, where Teddy has had games where he’s been just ‘off’. Granted in those games he’s still putting up better numbers than the average QB. He’ll need to simply be the Teddy Bridgewater that he has been through his career tonight.

This game has the potential to be a shootout. It features two high-powered offense. One offense in Louisville that is 18th in the Country in scoring averaging 38.4 points a game and the other in Houston that is 20th in the Country averaging 38.1 per game. If the defenses have little success tonight, it could very well come down to who has the ball last. I like my chances with Teddy Bridgewater – the likely  #1 overall pick in 2014 NFL Draft – as opposed to Houston Cougar QB True Freshmen John O’Korn.

Perhaps what is more questionable than Teddy Bridgewater ‘bringing it’ is if his offensive line can do the same. The youthful group has gone through ups and downs this season. At times, Bridgewater has taken some hits. Even against the lowly South Florida Bulls, Bridgewater was sacked 3 times in the first half and pressured numerous times. The offensive line has also had their moments against talented defensive lines like Rutgers. Louisville will need that type of play from it’s offensive line tonight to take care of business.

Special Teams, Special Teams, Special Teams:

If I say it three times does Louisville’s Special Teams problems disappear? Probably not. If you were writing a how-to guide to beat Louisville Football in 2013, you’d probably include exploiting their special teams defense. Cards fans know how abysmal it has been. You don’t need stats to tell you, but I’ll give them to you anyway. Louisville has had 4 kickoff returns go for over 40 yards, that’s third worst in the Country.

Houston may have the tools to exploit this. Actually, they do have the tools to exploit this.

They boast a talented return group in the from of True Freshman Demarcus Ayers and Junior transfer Markeith Ambles. Ayers is the one has presumably caught the attention of the Louisville coaches. He is quick. I mean really quick. He’s the leader in the AAC in kickoff return averages, with 27.2 averaged per return. That’s also good for 18th nationally. He’s took two all the way to house this season and constantly proven that he is a valuable threat each time he touches the ball.

Louisville’s special teams as appeared to improve somewhat coming into this game, we’ll sure found out tonight, that is if the Cardinals just don’t lobby to kick the ball out of bounds each time (see Central Florida).

My Prediction: Louisville 42 Houston 28 (Louisville doesn’t cover -16 spread)

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Chris Hatfield

Residing in Louisville, KY (via Bardstown, KY). I write things about Louisville Sports. Sometimes you'll like them. Follow me @_ChrisHatfield Email me at chatfield60@gmail.com

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