Louisville Cardinals at Rutgers Scarlet Knights (-3, 43.5)
The Big East has grown accustomed to strange finishes in recent years, but No. 18 Rutgers hopes to avoid any suspense for the second time in as many seasons when they host No. 20 Louisville on Thursday.
In addition to securing the school’s first BCS berth, the Scarlet Knights will get a chance to atone for last season when they missed out on an opportunity to forge a four-way atop the conference standings in the final week of the regular season. While a similar scenario could take place again this season, Thursday’s game will likely determine whether Rutgers or Louisville with represent the conference in a BCS bowl game.
Last Saturday, the Scarlet Knights had a chance to claim their first outright conference title, but appeared listless in a 27-6 loss to Pittsburgh. However, thanks to a triple-overtime loss by Louisville to Connecticut on the same day, Rutgers clinched at least a share of the Big East crown.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE: Rutgers has been bet up to a field-goal favorite after opening at -2.5. The total opened at 43.5 and has remained steady.
ABOUT LOUISVILLE (9-2, 4-2 Big East, 4-7 ATS): The Cardinals enter on a two-game losing streak and injuries to key players are beginning to pile up. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater broke his left wrist and sprained his right ankle against Connecticut, one game after the team lost leading rusher Senorise Perry for the season to a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Coach Charlie Strong expects Bridgewater to play through his injuries Thursday, but his ability to effectively lead the conference’s top scoring offense will be in question. Bridgewater is unable to handle snaps under center or play-action calls but is expected to manage the offense from the shotgun and pistol formations.
ABOUT RUTGERS (9-2, 5-1 Big East, 7-4 ATS): Despite rushing for only 14 yards on nine carries against Pittsburgh, Jawan Jamison became the seventh player in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. The Scarlet Knights have forced a turnover in 14 consecutive games – totaling 32 over that stretch – and have forced at least one turnover in 51 of their previous 55 games. Rutgers ranks among the top 25 nationally in most of the major defensive categories, including scoring (fourth), total (14th) and rushing (11th).
* Favorite is 5-0 ATS in their last five meetings.
* Over is 5-1 in the last six meetings.
* Home team is 5-2 ATS in their last seven meetings.
1. Rutgers has allowed only 71 points in conference play.
2. Louisville is 3-18 all-time on the road against ranked opponents.
3. A win would give the Scarlet Knights only their third 10-win season in the program’s 143-year history.