Thursday, October 11, 2012
Louisville-Pittsburgh Preview Capsule
No. 18 Louisville (5-0, 0-0 Big East) at Pitt (2-3, 0-2), 11 a.m. (ESPNU)
Line: Louisville by 1.5
Series Record: Pitt leads 8-7
WHAT'S AT STAKE: The Cardinals are the last team in the Football Bowl Subdivision to play a conference game. Louisville began the season as the overwhelming Big East favorite, but Rutgers and Cincinnati have quickly joined the fray. The Panthers let one get away in a 14-13 loss at Syracuse last week, and any chance of making noise in their final Big East season will disappear if they don't beat the Cardinals.
KEY MATCHUP: Pitt's front seven against Louisville RBs Senorise Perry and Jeremy Wright. Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has cooled off a bit after a hot start and the Cardinals have relied heavily on Perry and Wright to take some of the pressure off. Pitt's defense has steadily improved after a horrific start and the Panthers would love to make Bridgewater beat them, a tactic they used perfectly in a 35-17 upset over Virginia Tech last month when Hokies QB Logan Thomas threw three interceptions.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Louisville: S Calvin Pryor. The senior safety has been an intimidating force for the Cardinals. He leads the team with 38 tackles -- including one tackle for loss -- and leads the nation with four forced fumbles. For a defense that has struggled at times to get pressure on the quarterback, Pryor has given Louisville some needed thump in the secondary.
Pitt: WR Mike Shanahan. The emergence of teammate Devin Street has forced teams to take some of their attention away from Shanahan, who has developed into a downfield target for QB Tino Sunseri. Shanahan has 25 receptions for a Big East-leading 451 yards and three touchdowns. While not exactly fast, his 6-foot-5 frame makes him a difficult matchup.
FACTS & FIGURES: This is the final meeting between the two schools before Pitt heads to the ACC next fall. The Panthers have won their last four games in the series, including a 21-14 victory in Louisville last fall ... Louisville is 5-0 for the first time since 2006, when the Cardinals finished 12-1 and won the Orange Bowl ... Though Bridgewater has 100 completions on the season, no Louisville receiver has more than 16 receptions ... The Cardinals have won 10 of their last 11 regular season games ... Pitt hasn't started a Big East season 0-3 since 2001 ... Louisville is just 1-6 in Big East openers since joining the conference in 2005 ... Louisville has scored first in each of its first five games.