This will be the last game in what has been a great series with Louisville. The pick by Devon Davis in overtime to win the first C-USA home game in '03. The Amarri Jackson Game in '05, a 45-14 beatdown that was Rod Smith's opus as offensive coordinator. The 55-17 pasting that began to revive the dream '07 season. Beating Krag1N1 again in '09 in comfortable fashion.
In fact of the 5-5 record USF has all time against Louisville football, four of the wins were in odd numbered years and thus at home. Could the Bulls do this again in 2013, and go to 3-0 in conference play for the first time in school history??
Eh, probably not. I mean we're a 20.5 point underdog for a reason, and we haven't shown any ability to matriculate the ball. But this is still an important game to judge the progress Coach Taggart and this team have made so far this season. Can USF hang around with a good opponent at home? Can the defense at least slow down one of the best passers in college football in Teddy Bridgewater? Can they make this interesting enough that Bulls fans are still in their seats late into the 4th quarter?
Louisville has soon-to-be-NFL skill position talent all over the field, and an offense that's an exercise in democracy. There's the three-headed rushing hydra of Senorise Perry, (420 yards, 5 TD's) Dominique Brown (359 yards, 4 TD's), and former USF flirtation and Auburn transfer Michael Dyer (223 yards, 2 TD's). They all bring different skills to the table, but the Bulls will get absolutely break even when the first string is on the sidelines. Every one of these players is NFL capable, and the balance to their statistics is a tribute to how they feed off each other. You won't see better depth at tailback anywhere in America, and containing these guys might not even be priority #1 for the defense.
Louisville's depth at wide receiver is just as imposing. Junior DeVante Parker (441 yards, 7 TD's) leads one of the most dynamic and balanced receiving corps in America. Parker makes any "He Could Be Here Next Year Too?" All-American list, and has fellow stud Damian Copeland (423 yards, 3 TD's) on the opposite side helping to take pressure away. UL comes in waves too, with guys like Eli Rogers, Kai De La Cruz, and Gerald Christian all capable of making big plays when they're open.
Getting to Bridgewater (72% completion rate, 316 yards per game, 20 TD's, 2 INT's) is so important for USF because if he has time in the pocket, he can pick apart any defense in the country. If Teddy Football is comfortable back there, look for it to be an long day full of short scoring drives. The front seven of USF has improved game after game, but this will be their biggest test by far. Louisville is going to get chunks of yards, but generating turnovers might be the best way for the Bulls to stay in the contest.
On defense, Preston Brown seems to predate Denny Crum at Louisville, and the senior leads the Cards with 54 tackles overall. Defensive ends Marcus Smith and Lorenzo Mauldin must be licking their chops on tape as Bobby Eveld isn't the most mobile QB, and that pair has combined for 13 of UL's 23 team sacks so far this season. By comparison... USF only has seven as an entire team so far this year.
It's certainly a heavy challenge for USF entering tomorrow's contest, but the Bulls should be confident after two straight AAC wins and with a bye week to prepare. Homecoming has become a chance for USF to show they're continuing to improve, and possibly lay some more foundation in the reconstruction of USF Football.