Cincinnati at Louisville (+3.5, 48)
Line opened with the Bearcats as a 3.5-point favorite and has not moved significantly. Ditto for the total, which has been hanging around 48 since opening.
Here's the Situation
Louisville is desperate. The Cardinals are coming off two ugly losses, including 28-21 to Syracuse (Yikes) and need one more win to become bowl eligible.
Coach Steve Kragthorpe’s seat isn’t hot yet, but it’s warming quickly in his second up-and-down season since succeeding Bobby Petrino. A disappointing performance on national TV would not please an increasingly listless fan base.
It’s a big game for Kragthorpe, and you expect everything the Cardinals have.
Cincinnati is much more stable under hot-commodity coach Brian Kelly. After last week’s impressive upset at West Virginia, the Bearcats control their destiny in the Big East and have visions of South Beach in January.
Kelly has won championships at each level of his coaching career. A BCS bowl berth would almost certainly punch his ticket to one of the premier job openings around the country.
The beginning of a strong cold front will bring rain and freshening winds to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium sometime during the night. A second glance at the forecast closer to 8 p.m. EST kickoff should reveal just how much a factor the weather will be.
The Running Game
Louisville is superior at running back, with emerging freshman Victor Anderson. The Cardinals average 178.7 yards on the ground.
They’re also better than UC at stopping the run. UL ranks seventh in the nation against the run.
Louisville’s Hunter Cantwell: At 6-5, 236 pounds, Cantwell has all the tools to be an NFL prospect. But the senior hasn’t played like one. He’s completing less than 58 percent of his passes and has a 13-to-11 TD-to-INT ratio.
He’s not a threat to scramble and has thrown at least one interception in six consecutive games.
Kragthorpe inserted backup Matt Sims, son of Phil, into last week’s game for a few series.
Cincinnati’s Tony Pike: A 6-6, 211-pound junior, Pike has started all but two game since opening day starter Dustin Grutza went down in Week 2. His non-throwing arm is still heavily bandaged from surgery, but it has not affected his play too dramatically.
Like Cantwell, Pike’s numbers won’t blow you away, and he’s not a threat to scramble.
For the first time since the injury, Grutza is expected to be available, if needed.
During the Oklahoma-Cincinnati game, an ABC announcer said an NFL scout was on hand looking at least 10 Bearcat players.
This is an athletic team with a defense that starts 10 seniors.
The Bearcats have two game-changers in receivers Dominick Goodman and Marshwan Gilyard, who have combined for 12 touchdowns this season.
Gilyard is also extremely dangerous on kick-off returns, as both Oklahoma and West Virginia have found out.
Cincinnati hung with Oklahoma in the fist half, until Grutza was knocked out.
This will be Louisville’s second game without top receiver
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