The No. 8 Louisville Cardinals continue to roll through their stellar season, and enter their conference matchup against the Rutgers Scarlet Nights with momentum on Thursday night at Cardinal Stadium.
Teddy Bridgewater has lifted Louisville to a 5-0 record with 16 passing touchdowns and 1,562 yards, outscoring opponents 222-34. Complementing the NFL prospect is top rusher Senorise Perry’s 298 yards and four touchdowns.
But the Cardinals could miss leading receiver DeVante Parker, who injured his shoulder in the first quarter of last week’s 30-7 victory over Temple. Parker has 21 catches for 375 yards and six touchdowns
The Scarlet Knights will likely face their old Big East rival without running back Paul James, who has already missed the last two games with no signs of coming back from an undisclosed leg injury. Before the injury, James had racked up 573 yards and six touchdowns.
Despite the loss of their top offensive player, the Scarlet Knights have still put together a four-game winning streak with the help of quarterback Gary Nova’s 1,171 passing yards and 13 touchdowns. Receivers Leonte Carroo and Tyler Kroft each have 14 receptions, with Carroo pulling down seven touchdowns to Kroft’s two.
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Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood did say that starting linebacker Jamal Merrell will make his return on Thursday after missing three straight games, a good sign up a team letting up 27.6 points a game.
While the Louisville offense has put up prolific numbers, the Cardinals are also ranked No. 1 in the country with 6.8 points allowed per game. Louisville defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin has recorded six of the team’s 15 sacks this season.
In the 2012 regular season finale, Bridgewater played through a broken wrist and passed for 263 yards and two touchdowns for a 20-17 victory. The Louisville defense only let up nine Rutgers first downs and 54 rushing yards. Nova was reponsible for two of Rutgers' three turnovers, and the team went 3-for-11 on third down.
“It’s one of those games that you look forward to playing,” Bridgewater said to the Newark Star-Ledger. “Both teams, both schools, hate each other. But at the same time, we both respect each other. The level of play is so high when the University of Louisville and Rutgers meet that the rivalry just took off.”
The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast by ESPN, or watch their live online stream at Watch ESPN here.
Betting Odds: Louisville favored by 19 points.
Over/Under: 55 points
Prediction: Louisville 37, Rutgers 10