Belk Bowl: Three Keys

December, 27, 2011
12/27/11
10:30
AM ET
You saw the preview and prediction. Now here are three keys for Louisville going into the Belk Bowl tonight:

1. Relax: This will be the first bowl game for many of the starters and key contributors on this team. With so many true and redshirt freshmen contributing, it is natural to wonder how they will handle the challenge of playing with the spotlight squarely on them. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is not one to flinch under pressure -- he led his team to a comeback win against in-state rival Kentucky early on this season. But still, bowl games come with distractions and a long layoff that are not built into the regular season. How Louisville handles both will be a big key in this game.

2. Watch Amerson: NC State cornerback David Amerson has been an interception machine all season, so you can bet Louisville will be on the lookout for where he lines up in the secondary. With Michaelee Harris out because of a knee injury, he most likely will draw the assignment of trying to slow down Eli Rogers and DeVante Parker -- who leads the team with six touchdown receptions. Bridgewater has thrown 12 touchdown passes to nine interceptions this season, and is still learning how to read coverages. NC State might try to disguise what it is doing or at least confuse Bridgewater, and force him into making mistakes.

3. Do run-run: Louisville is at its best when it is able to establish the run, so that is going to be a bigger key than anything Bridgewater can do in the passing game. Louisville is 7-2 when rushing for 100 or more yards this season; 0-3 when failing to reach the 100-yard mark. Moving Dominique Brown to running back has been a big help for the Cardinals, as he and Victor Anderson have carried the rushing load in the past five games of the season. When Louisville has balance, most everything works out for this team.

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