Has there ever been an undefeated team that needed a victory more than the 18th ranked University of Louisville Cardinals when they travel to Miami to take on the Florida International University Golden Panthers? With the lingering effects of their second half collapse against North Carolina, it could be argued that the Cards need to find away to shake off their malaise and figure out how to play a full game – start to finish.
Louisville had the fans and the media buying what they were selling in the first half of last Saturday's game at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. At half time in the press box, the North Carolina writers and photographers discussed dinner plans and how to best get out of stadium traffic. The Cardinal players must have been thinking the same thing. Most everyone was. Everyone except the Tar Heel players and coaches. Only a broken up touchdown pass in the waning moments kept the Cards undefeated.
And now UofL leaves the home fans for 3 straight games beginning with FIU, a team that knows how to beat Louisville. Last season, the Golden Panthers upset the Cards at home 24-17. Senior Bowl Watch List defensive end Tourek Williams will be after former high school teammate Teddy Bridgewater all game. The Cardinals need to keep their quarterback upright in order for him to remain as efficient as he has been all season. And they need to continue their impressive running game so they can have some ball control, particularly in the second half.
Louisville also needs to play defense for 4 quarters which is something they haven't done all season. Whatever gets in their heads needs to stop. When they nearly blew it against North Carolina, the home crowd lifted them up just enough. Now they're on the road against a team that knows they can win and perhaps the Golden Panthers smell blood in the water.
If the Cards can play up to their potential and their ranking, they can and should win 38-10. If they fall apart like last Saturday, FIU could have Louisville's number again.
Photo: Louisville.com/Tim Girton