Thursday, November 29, 2012
W2W4: Rutgers vs. Louisville
By Kieran Darcy
Here are three things to watch for when Rutgers (9-2, 5-1 Big East) faces Louisville (9-2, 4-2 Big East) on Thursday at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, N.J.
Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m., and you can watch the game on ESPN.
WHAT'S AT STAKE: The Big East championship, and the conference's automatic BCS bowl bid. Rutgers has already clinched a share of the conference title, for the first time in school history. With a win Thursday night, it'll be the outright champion and secure the BCS bid. If Louisville wins, the Cardinals will almost certainly get the bid, but we'll have to wait for the final BCS standings to make it official.
Both these schools will soon depart the Big East -- Rutgers for the Big Ten, Louisville for the ACC. But the focus will be on the field Thursday night. Six years ago, Rutgers beat No. 3-ranked Louisville in Piscataway, in arguably the biggest game in school history. This game is even bigger, with the winner likely headed to either the Sugar or Orange Bowl. And it'll be played in front of a sellout crowd, too.
THE SCARLET KNIGHTS: Rutgers could have wrapped the Big East up last week, but the Scarlet Knights suffered a very disappointing 27-6 loss at Pittsburgh.
The strength of this team is its defense -- ranked fourth in the country, giving up just 13.7 points per game. On offense, Rutgers has relied heavily on sophomore running back Jawan Jamison, who has 227 carries for 1,004 yards (4.4 yards per carry) and four touchdowns. Jamison has been limited by a sprained ankle the past two weeks, but appears ready to go, according to Rutgers coach Kyle Flood.
Sophomore quarterback Gary Nova has completed 191 of 320 passes (59.7 percent) for 2,282 yards, with 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He left the Pitt game briefly after landing hard on his right (throwing) shoulder, but returned to the game.
THE CARDINALS: After starting the season 9-0, Louisville has lost its past two games -- at Syracuse (45-26), and versus UConn (23-20, 3OT).
The Cardinals rely heavily on their passing offense, which is ranked 26th in the country, averaging 296.5 yards per game. Sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is a star, having completed 247 of 359 passes (68.8 percent) for 3,189 yards, with 23 touchdowns and just six interceptions. But he is banged up, playing with a broken wrist in his left (non-throwing) wrist and a sprained ankle.
Look for Rutgers to try to pressure Bridgewater as much as possible under these circumstances. Senior linebacker Khaseem Greene, a future NFL player, leads the team with 5.5 sacks.