Thursday Night AAC College Football: Rutgers Scarlet Knights at #8 Louisville Cardinals

Rutgers Scarlet Knights at #8 Louisville Cardinals
Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium – Louisville, Kentucky

Thursday, October 10, 2013, 6:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Louisville -17
Current Line: Louisville -18 1/2
Opening Total: 55
Current Total: 54
Opening Money Line: Louisville -1400 / Rutgers +850
Current Money Line: Louisville -1300 / Rutgers +810

Louisville is an 18.5 point favorite at home Thursday night against Rutgers.
Louisville is an 18.5 point favorite at home Thursday night against Rutgers.

Both the 5-0 Louisville Cardinals and 4-1 Rutgers are 1-0 in the American Athletic Conference formerly known as the Big East as they meet Thursday in Louisville. Both teams will leave the AAC next year as Louisville will join the ACC and and Rutgers will depart for the Big Ten. Rutgers leads the series 7-5 but the series is tied 3-3 in Louisville. The Cardinals have won three straight in the series including 20-17 last year in New Jersey.

Rutgers is coached by Kyle Flood. The Scarlet Knights lost 52-52 in overtime at Fresno State to start the season. Since then, Rutgers has won 4 straight games including home wins over Norfolk State 38-0, Eastern Michigan 28-10, and Arkansas 28-24. Last week, Rutgers was a 3.5 point favorite at SMU and the total was 53.5. The Scarlet Knights won in triple overtime 55-52 to win their first conference game of the year. Rutgers is 2-3 ATS and the total is 3-2 this season.

Although Rutgers had leads of 21-0 and 35-14, SMU scored 3 fourth quarter touchdowns to force overtime tied at 35. Both teams traded touchdowns in the first two overtimes and the Mustangs settled for a field goal in the third overtime. The Scarlet Knights then scored a touchdown to win the game 55-52. Rutgers had 474 total yards including 191 rushing yards. SMU had 558 total yards including 484 passing yards. Rutgers overcame two turnovers and 9 penalties for 60 yards. SMU had just one turnover but it proved costly as Rutgers recovered a fumble in the first quarter in the end zone.

Rutgers is outscoring teams 40-28 this season. The Scarlet Knights are averaging 422.8 yards per game on offense including 243.2 passing and 179.6 rushing yards. On defense, Rutgers is allowing 376.8 yards per game including 306.2 passing and 70.6 rushing yards. The Scarlet Knights are #3 nationally in rush defense, but the pass defense is #118 out of 125 teams. Rutgers is -1 in turnovers with 7 takeaways. The Knights are averaging 64 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 60. Rutgers is 34/83 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 34/99. The Scarlet Knights have forced 15 sacks but allowed 14 this season. Rutgers is 19/22 scoring in the red zone with 16 touchdowns and opponents are 13/15 with 12 touchdowns. Rutgers has 2 kickoff returns, a punt and a fumble return all for touchdowns, and has allowed a pick six.

Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova has completed 58.5% of his passes for 1,171 yards with 13 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, along with a rushing touchdown. He has been sacked 11 times this season the same number he was all of last season. Running back Paul James has 78 carries, 573 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with 6 catches for 65 yards. He is out with a leg injury after missing the SMU game. Justin Goodwin has 31 carries, 193 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 2 catches, 73 yards and a touchdown. Savon Huggins has 58 catches, 186 yards and a touchdown, along with 3 catches. Receiver Leonte Carroo has 14 catches, 291 yards and 7 touchdowns. Tyler Kroft has 14 catches, 224 yards and 2 touchdowns. Brandon Coleman has 15 catches, 220 yards and 2 touchdowns. Quron Pratt has 13 catches for 165 yards, along with a kick return for a touchdown. Ruhann Peele has 11 catches fro 95 yards and a touchdown Janarion Grant has a kick and punt return for touchdowns. Eight defensive players and 2 offensive linemen are listed as questionable or out Thursday for Rutgers.

Louisville is coached by Charlie Strong. The Cardinals have home wins over Ohio 49-7, Eastern Kentucky 44-7, and Florida International 72-0, along with road wins at Kentucky 27-13 and last week at Temple 30-7 in the conference opener for Louisville. The Cardinals are 3-2 ATS and the total is 1-4 this season. Louisville was a 32.5 point favorite at Temple and the total stayed under the 58.5 total.

Louisville scored the first 30 points of the game but had to settle for 3 field goals of 25 yards or less. Temple finally got on the board with 38 seconds left to make the final 30-7. Louisville had 525 total yards including 348 passing yards. The Cardinals held the Owls to 255 total yards including 48 rushing yards. Temple had 2 turnovers.

Louisville is outscoring teams 44-7 this season. The Cardinals lead the nation in points allowed and #12 in points scored. Louisville is #18 in total offense at 514.2 yards per game including the #13 passing attack at 333 yards per game and 181.2 rushing yards. On defense, the Cardinals are allowing 228 yards per game including 147.8 passing and 80.2 rushing yards. Louisville is #3 nationally in total defense and #4 in both pass and rush defense. The Cardinals are +7 in turnovers with 9 takeaways. Louisville averages 50 penalty yards per game and opponents average 37. The Cardinals are 40/65 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 19/72. Louisville has forced 15 sacks and allowed 5 this season. The Cardinals are 25/26 scoring in the red zone with 17 touchdowns and opponents are 6/11 with 4 touchdowns. Louisville is outscoring opponents 127-3 in the first half this season. In fact 24 of the 34 points Louisville has allowed this season have come in the fourth quarter of blowouts. The Cardinals have one kick return for a touchdown.

Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is a Heisman contender and potential #1 overall draft pick in next year’s NFL draft. He has completed 71.7% of his passes for 1,562 yards with 16 touchdowns and a pick, along with 15 carries for 38 yards. Running back Senorise Perry has 54 carries, 298 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 4 catches for 31 yards. Dominique Brown has 39 carries, 250 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 4 catches for 41 yards. Michael Dyer has 36 carries, 205 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 2 catches. Receiver DeVante Parker has 21 carries, 375 yards and 6 touchdowns. Eli Rogers has 15 catches, 279 yards and 2 touchdowns. Damian Copeland has 15 catches, 264 yards and 3 touchdowns. Kai De La Cruz has 12 catches, 215 yards and 2 touchdowns. Gerald Christian has 16 catches, 188 yards and 3 touchdowns. Robert Clark has 13 catches, 138 yards and a touchdown.

Rutgers is 11-4-1 ATS against teams with winning records, 18-7-1 against teams with winning home records, 5-2 in Thursday games, and after allowing 280 passing yards or more,  2-5 after both gaining and allowing 450 total yards or more and on fieldturf, 2-6 overall, 1-4-1 after scoring more than 40 points. The over is 5-2 in the last 7 games in the series.

Louisville is 4-1 ATS after gaining more than 450 total yards, 7-2 after allowing less than 275 total yards, 8-3 after failing to cover, and against teams with winning records, 5-2 overall, 9-4 after allowing 20 points or less, and 1-4 after allowing less than 100 rushing yards. The favorite has covered 5 of the last 6 games in the series.

Rutgers can’t stop the pass, which isn’t good when you are facing one of the nation’s top quarterbacks. Bridgewater should carve up the Rutgers secondary like a pumpkin for Halloween. Still 18 1/2 seems like a lot of points as the Cardinals sometimes struggle to score touchdowns in the red zone and have to settle for field goals. Rutgers has a good offense and is easily the best offense Lousville’s staunch defense has faced this season.


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