Three keys for Louisville against Southern Miss in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl on Tuesday night:
1. Establish Bilal Powell: Cardinals coach Charlie Strong calls his senior-led offensive line the backbone of the team, and he believes they can run on anybody. Southern Miss finished 13th nationally against the run this year, allowing just 113 yards per game on the ground with 300-pound run stuffers like John Henderson and Anthony Gray in the middle up front. Louisville's offense usually goes as running back Powell goes, and the more successful he is, the more Southern Miss' offense has to stay on the sideline.
2. Make something happen in the passing game: Adam Froman started the first eight games at quarterback and played pretty well before suffering a deep thigh bruise. Justin Burke took over for the final four games before getting injured himself in the finale at Rutgers. Both should be ready for Tuesday night, and offensive coordinator Mike Sanford said he expects both seniors to play. Louisville's passing game didn't do much the final month or so of the season, but the opportunities should be there against a Golden Eagles defense that ranks 103rd nationally against the pass. Whoever is in at quarterback needs to take advantage and avoid mistakes, because beating Southern Miss will probably require a score somewhere in the high 20s or more.
3. Contain Austin Davis: The Golden Eagles rely a lot on Davis, their quarterback. He has close to 3,000 yards passing and is third on the team in rushing. Play the pass too much, and he'll slip in a few big gains on the zone-read play. Louisville has done an excellent job all year of applying pressure from confusing angles in defensive coordinator Vance Bedford's scheme. The pressure has to get to Davis and not let him burst free, or he can do some serious damage.