Temple (3-4) at (12) Louisville (8-0)|
Saturday, Nov. 3, 12 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Phil Neuffer, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: Even though they have been teetering on the edge in the last
couple of weeks, the No. 12 Louisville Cardinals have kept their perfect
season rolling and will try to keep it up this week when they host the
stumbling Temple Owls in a Big East matchup at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
Two weeks ago, Temple was riding high with a perfect mark in Big East play and
a record above .500. The Owls have since been in free fall with two straight
blowout losses. The first was a 35-10 beating from Rutgers and the second a
47-17 rout at the hands of Pittsburgh last weekend. Temple is now 3-4 overall
this season with a 2-2 split in conference play.
Cincinnati kept Louisville on the ropes all game last weekend but the
Cardinals showed a ton of resiliency in rallying for a 34-31 win in overtime.
The win moves the Cardinals to 8-0 on the season, the first time they have
done that since 2006 when the team went 12-1 and made a trip to the Orange
Bowl. The Cardinals are also 3-0 in Big East play which trails only 4-0
Rutgers in the conference standings.
Head coach Charlie Strong was proud of his team's tenacity in rallying from
deficits of 17-7 and 24-14 but still thinks his team has its best days ahead.
"I just told them that. We're 8-0, but still we can go play so much better,"
Strong said. "We have yet to put together a 60 minute game. When is that going
to happen? We need that to happen."
Temple might be the perfect team for Louisville to try to move to 9-0
against. The last time these two teams faced the Cardinals absolutely
dominated in a 62-0 win in 2006. The Owls do have a 3-2 series edge, but the
last of those wins came in 1983.
The Owls just don't seem to be able to get anything going offensively, at
least with any consistency, this season. The Owls are last in the conference
in total offense (294.4 ypg) and second to last in scoring (23.1 ppg). The
issue has been that Temple has no real semblance of a passing game. The Owls
are not only the worst passing team in the Big East, but the fourth worst in
the entire country (132.7 ypg).
The lack of passing has put extra pressure on the run game. In the past four
weeks Montel Harris has played well. Harris has rushed for 428 of his total
463 rushing yards in the last four weeks, although he struggled for only 72
against Pittsburgh, the lowest total during that stretch. Harris has taken
over the feature back role, but will be called on even more with Matt Brown
out with an injury.
No change at the quarterback position seems imminent, but Chris Coyer still
needs to improve. He has thrown for eight touchdowns and only three
interceptions, but only has 870 yards passing and a 55.0 percent completion
percentage. Head coach Steve Addazio utilizes his quarterback in the run game,
as Coyer has 354 yards rushing this season.
In terms of pass catchers, Jalen Fitzpatrick (22 receptions, 291 yards) and
Cody Booth (12 receptions, 108 yards) are the only players with double-digit
receptions this season.
The defense has been no better for the Owls, who rank last in the conference
in total defense (407.7 ypg) and second to last in scoring defense (27.7 ppg).
The Owls don't create many negative plays, tied for last in the conference in
tackles for loss (36).
Tyler Matakevich has risen to the top of the roster in tackles as he has led
the team for four straight weeks in the category. He how has 56 stops this
season, which along with Nate D. Smith's 51, accounts for the only Owls
players to have reached the 50-tackle plateau this season. John Youboty is the
team's best pass rusher with team-highs in sacks (3.0) and 4.0 tackles for
Teddy Bridgewater has been the steady hand that has kept Louisville going this
season. The sophomore quarterback has completed a conference best 70.7 percent
of his pass attempts, for 2,110 yards and 13 touchdowns with only four
interceptions. Bridgewater was sensational in the Cardinals' comeback against
Cincinnati, throwing two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter and leading
the game-winning drive in overtime.
DeVante Parker caught both of those touchdown passes in racking up 120 yards
through the air, his second game with 100 yards receiving this season. Parker
has been electric, turning just 20 receptions this season into 457 yards and
four touchdowns. Damian Copeland has been the more reliable receiver with a
team-high 28 receptions for 358 yards.
"They believe in one another. When you look at our offense; when you have a
quarterback like Teddy Bridgewater and you have the receivers like Andrell
(Smith), DeVante (Parker), and you look at (Damian) Copeland; we have players
that can make plays," Strong said about his offense.
Passing the ball hasn't been all the Cardinals have succeeded in this season.
Senorise Perry and Jeremy Wright have been a solid rushing tandem. The pair
have been slowed in recent weeks but have combined for 1,175 yards and 19
touchdowns this season. Perry is the leader with 624 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The two have helped power a Cardinal rushing attack that has accounted for the
most touchdowns (21) in a season since 2007.
Despite being at the top of the conference in terms of wins and losses,
Louisville has been an average defensive squad. The Cardinals are the fourth
ranked unit in total defense (340.8 ypg) and fifth in scoring (23.0 ppg).
Turnovers have been even less of an issue for the Cardinals with the team
second in the conference in turnovers margin (+five).
Safety Calvin Pryor and the rest of the secondary have been the strength of
the unit. Pryor has a team-high 61 tackles this season and has also collected
a pair of interceptions. Fellow safety Hakeem Smith is third on the team with
43 tackles. Marcus Smith (5.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks) and Lorenzo Mauldin
(5.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks) are the team's top defenders up front.
Strong has demanding standards for his Louisville team which seems like an odd
thing to say for a coach whose squad is one of just six unbeaten teams left in
the country. With Bridgewater and the Cardinals at home against a Temple team
that has played poorly in the last two weeks, Louisville should live up to
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisville 30, Temple 14
10/31 10:44:10 ET