In what should be the biggest challenge undefeated Louisville will be facing all season, Rutgers arrive to play at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, hoping that the close encounters of recent years in this rivalry will go their way this time.
In the last six meetings between the two teams, no one has won by more than three points, including Louisville’s 20-17 win last year, which pretty much ensured them winning the conference title, which led to the BCS Bowl game appearance and win, and leading to the huge expectations out of this season because of Teddy Bridgewater and the easy schedule, making it quite likely to finish the season undefeated.
Louisville were missing Teddy Bridgewater for one half of their crucial win over Rutgers last season, and this time might be playing without their best wide receiver, DeVante Parker, catching six touchdown passes already this season. However, Bridgewater is excellent at spreading the ball around, finding 7 receivers at least in each of the Cardinals’ games, and he has been the epitome of efficiency with 16 touchdown passes, one interceptions and a completion ratio of 71.7%.
It’ll be interesting how Rutgers’ high powered offense, averaging 40 points per game behind Gary Nove at quarterback and Paul James at running back (7.3 yards per carry, six touchdowns), matching up with Louisville’s defense, allowing only 6.8 points per game so far this season, by far the best in the nation.
Nova does make mistakes, throwing four interceptions so far this season, and Louisville, with or without Parker, have the better offensive numbers in pretty much every category, even if their ground game isn’t based on just one very dominant running back.
In the extremely weakened AAC, this is the best there is for those looking for some conference rivalry right now. Things will change in the future, as both schools head off to play in different conferences, seeing their rivalry end, while new ones will form among the newer members. However, for Rutgers, ending their Louisville rivalry by denying them any hope of making it to the National Championship game would be a perfect ending.
Prediction – If Rutgers had the defense of old, they would have a chance. But they’re outgunned at every position, and don’t have the defense to keep up with Teddy Bridgewater, who will overcome the toughest challenge thrown at him this season.