Sheriff Preview: Florida International vs. Louisville

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Last Year’s Florida International Trip 

I made the trip to Miami for last year’s FIU vs. Louisville game.   The experience was EXTREMELY interesting.  I wanted to make the trip in particular because the Panthers had beaten the Cards in 2011 and this was a revenge game.  FIU also had SOLD OUT the game & many Louisville Cardinals are from the Miami area.

I drove myself from Louisville to Miami and really was enjoying the vibe of Louisville’s first road game.  I even spent the day (because it was a night game) watching college football while moving about South Beach.  It rained intermittently where I was…..but at FIU’s campus the skies were falling.  When I arrived the campus was virtually inaccessible.  Parking & Campus security directed me towards the area to park, when I nearly drove into a 4-foot deep puddle.  The van in front of me that showed me the actual depth of this massive water trap unfortunately stayed in there until after the game.

Planning on being in the press box for the game I didn’t want to arrive in shorts & sandals. So it was jeans and dress shoes. But the shorts and sandal option would have been much better.  The area the entire stadium (literally the entire stadium) was surrounded by an 18-inch depth or more moat.  Carrying 2 cameras and a computer I removed my shoes, rolled up my pant legs (along with Jody Demling, Pat Doney, & Eric Crawford) and navigated the waterway to enter the stadium.  (The things I do for you guys….).

So I rode up the elevator to the “Press Box” with my shoes in my hands, pant legs rolled above my knees, and bags over my shoulders. PRO.  At that point I could have passed for a Weather Channel reporter.   The “Press Box” actually didn’t exist at FIU.  Instead it was a very cluttered box that big-donors typically would obtain for games, and it was ‘converted’ into a Press Area.  This “Press Box” only sat about 12 people.  The rest of us sat outside under a tent (it was still lightning & raining when we arrived).  It was almost as if Florida International built their stadium and forgot that maybe it would be a good idea to have the press cover their events.

The expected sellout crowd decided to stay dry.  They missed a very good game.  And that’s the thing about Louisville vs. Florida International……everyone always expects for Louisville to win BIG against the Panthers, but history tells us otherwise.  In 2011, TY Hilton & the Panthers SHOCKED the Cards in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium 24-17.  Then last year, the Cards benefited from a late roughing the punter penalty to seal the victory 28-21.  The Cards & Panthers have met twice in history and the score is 45-45.  You can read about both games here:

2011 FIU Sheriff REVIEW

2012 FIU Sheriff REVIEW

Coach Strong Press Conference

This Year

Louisville opened as a 41.5 point favorite and that has climbed to 42.5 points.  So if the game is within a TD again clearly there is something wrong.  The Cards are the #6/#7 team in the nation and are hoping to continue to win and hang around the National Championship discussion (kind of like being on standby at the airport).  FIU has lost 43-10 to Maryland, 38-0 to UCF, and 34-13 to Bethune-Cookman.  Also the Panther’s QB Jake Medlock suffered a concussion vs. Bethune-Cookman and is day-to-day.  Personally, I thought back-up E.J. Hilliard (Teddy Bridgewater’s HS back-up) was better vs. the Cards than Medlock.  Medlock is not as mobile as Hilliard and made several throws thanks to his feet.

Because this game is not expected to be hotly contested I thought I would save my time (and yours) and do a quick rundown of the Panthers rather than my usual in-depth preview.

Louisville Offense vs. Florida International Defense

Louisville Offensive Performance vs. Opponents

The Cards in their two games against FBS schools have bested their opponent’s average allowed yardage.  UofL has gained at least 125+ yards more than either opponent and is performing at a rate of 132%.  Meanwhile the Panthers are actually doing pretty well within teams’ averages on Defense.  The difference really is in the FIU Run Defense.  FIU gives up 242.33 yards per game on the ground.

Florida International does do a nice job of getting into the backfield & they are not terrible against the run.  But this is a defense that Louisville CAN & SHOULD EXPOSE in just about every way on Saturday.  Big mismatch here.

Total Defense Louisville Gained vs. Deviation from Avg. % Gained of Avg Allowed
Ohio 465.3 615 149.7 132.17%
Kentucky 367 492 125 134.06%

Florida International Defensive Performance vs. Opponents

Total Offense FIU Allowed vs. Deviation from Avg. % Gained of Avg Allowed
Maryland 554.7 576 21.3 103.84%
UCF 457.7 390 -67.7 85.21%

Florida International Offense vs. Louisville Defense 

If the FIU Defense is bad. The FIU Offense doesn’t exist.  I’d like to call it abysmal. But that would be an insult to the word ‘abysmal’. FIU is 2nd to last in Scoring & Total Offense, and rank in the Bottom 20 in nearly every statistical category for offense.  Meanwhile the University of Louisville Cardinals rank in the Top 30 of every statistical category for Defense. This is set to be a LONG day.

FIU is allowing under 60% of offense vs. what their opponents have averaged allowed on Defense this year.  Meanwhile, Louisville is allowing under 78% of what opponents average.  Big time mismatch.

Louisville Defensive Performance vs. Opponents

Total Offense Louisville Allowed vs. Deviation from Avg. % Gained of Avg Allowed
Ohio 350 273 -77 78.00%
Kentucky 490 376 -114 76.73%

Florida International Offensive Performance vs. Opponents

Total Defense FIU Gained vs. Deviation from Avg. % Gained of Avg Allowed
Maryland 296.3 171 -125.3 57.71%
UCF 292.7 173 -119.7 59.10%

Statistical Comparison

Louisville Florida International
Scoring Offense (ppg) 40.0 (31st) 7.7 (124th)
Total Offense (ypg) 527.3 (20th) 191.0 (124th)
Passing Offense (ypg) 354.3 (9th) 126.0 (119th)
Rushing Offense (ypg) 173.00 (67th) 65.00 (121st)
Scoring Defense (ppg) 9.0 (4th) 38.3 (116th)
Total Defense (ypg) 285.0 (12th) 438.3 (97th)
Passing Defense (ypg) 168.3 (20th) 196.0 (41st)
Rushing Defense (ypg) 116.67 (29th) 242.33 (111th)
First Downs (per game) 23.0 (48th) 9.3 (124th)
Opponent First Downs (per game) 14.0 (6th) 20.3 (70th)
Turnover Margin (season) +4 (9th) -2 (101st)
Time of Possession 33:41.67 26:54.67 (104th)
Sacks (per game) 2.00 (49th) 1.67 (63rd)
Sacks Allowed (per game) 0.67 (5th) 3.67 (117th)
Tackles for Loss (per game) 6.67 (38th) 7.33 (27th)
Tackles for Loss Allowed (per game) 4.00 (21st) 8.00 (114th)
Interceptions (season) 3 (32nd) 1 (94th)
Passes Defended (per game) 6.67 (15th) 2.0 (112th)
Fumbles Recovered (season) 3 (19th) 2 (48th)
Fumbles Forced (season) 6 (2nd) 3 (32nd)
Fumbles Lost (season) 1 (16th) 3 (90th)
3rd Down Conversions (%) 61.90% (7th) 22.73% (120th)
Opponent 3rd Down Conversions (%) 24.39% (5th) 35.14% (48th)
Red Zone Conversions (%) 91.67% (33rd) 66.67% (107th)
Opponent Red Zone Conversions (%) 55.56% (8th) 92.86% (89th)
Field Goal % 83.3% (47th) 50% (96th)
Opponent Field Goal % 50% (16th) 80% (70th)
Punt Returns (ypr) 5.63 (84th) 16.67 (19th)
Kickoff Returns (ypr) 17.00 (115th) 23.46 (37th)
Opponent Punt Returns (ypr) 3.33 (23rd) 6.4 (47th)
Opponent Kickoff Returns (ypr) 27.13 (115th) 17.57 (20th)
Punting (ypp) 47.22 (12th) 36.58 (119th)
Kicks/Punts Blocked (season) - 1 (6th)
Penalties (ypg) 58.3 (93rd) 35.0 (24th)

My Prediction

I think the Cards win this one easily and do it mostly on the ground.  Louisville has been stubborn with its run game and I think they do the same thing against the Panthers.  I do think Teddy Bridgewater has a big day, but I think the story is the running game.  Louisville 49 Florida International 0.

Attending, Listening, Watching

-The Game is SOLD OUT.  But there are tickets available in the secondary market, including good deals on StubHub.

-Paul Rogers, Chris Redman, & Doug Ormay will call the game on the Nelligan Sports Radio .  In Louisville the call can be heard on 840 WHAS.

-Satellite Radio: Sirius Channel 98, XM: 199.

-On Television the game will be broadcast live on WHAS-11 and also on WATCHESPN.

Game Notes

-With a win Louisville will be 4-0 for just the 9th time since 1946.

-Series is tied 1-1, FIU won only game in Louisville.

-Louisville currently owns the most recent win vs. EVERY SCHOOL PLAYING FBS IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA.

 

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