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Louisville Gets First Conference Win, Houston Looks for Another Defensive Victory

Under the watchful eyes on more than 20 NFL scouts, #8 Louisville (6-0, 2-0) quarterback Teddy Bridgewater led his team to its first conference win this season over Rutgers (4-2, 1-1), 24-10 on Thursday.

After entering conference play on a weak schedule, Louisville had their chance to shine on center stage and there have been mixed reviews. Bridgewater went 21 of 31 passes, 310 yards two touchdowns, one interception and a fumble. Some could say his performance was pretty good as his top wide receiver, Devante Parker, did not play at the last minute thanks to a shoulder injury.

Teddy Bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater

But the game may be more remembered for Louisville’s defense. They held Rutgers to 240 yards while incurring four interceptions, eight sacks against Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova and only allowed 12 rushing yards. Safety Calvin Pryor had 14 tackles with a fourth-quarter pick.

A win is a win but you can’t help but ask if Bridgeawater’s performance hurt his Heisman chances. Regardless as the team continues its perfect season, there’s still going to be questions about its strength of schedule. Next up is UCF.

One thing seen from Thursday’s game is Bridgewater continued his path as a top draft pick from his performance. He was applauded for his accuracy, ability to read the defense and throw the long ball but with a win like that over Rutgers, this isn’t a team marching toward the National Championship.

And with it comes a quarterback unlikely to win the Heisman. Bridgewater sits in the fourth spot at 13/2 while Oregon’s Marcus Mariota remains at the top at 8/5.

Houston vs. Memphis

Along with Louisville’s undefeated record, there’s a second unblemished AAC team,the Houston Cougars (4-0, 1-0). They’ll take on the Memphis Tigers (1-3, 0-1) on Saturday. The key to this year’s success can be attributed to its improved defense.

The Cougars have not allowed an opposing team to score greater than than 28 points in 2013. This compares to last season’s 30-plus points allowed in eight of 12 games.

Last week the Cougars had their last bye week and they’ll look to move forward with their solid defense on Saturday to gain another win. This will come under their new defensive coordinator David Gibbs. His team has allowed 81 yards less per game than in 2012 and they now sit as the nation’s leader in turnover differential (plus-11). This has come from eight interceptions, six fumble recoveries and only three turnovers.

Houston coach Tony Levine has noticed the improvement and said this week, “Through four games we’ve only turned the ball over three times, defensively and special teams we’ve gotten 14 turnovers. When you look at the number one correlation to winning and losing games, it’s turnovers.”

The Memphis defense enters the game giving up about 320 yards per game. This comes in at No. 16 nationally; they have held opponents to less than 300 yards in three consecutive games. The Tigers are giving up 104.3 yards rushing a game with 19 points.

Martin Ifedi leads the defense with his 5 ½ sacks and nine tackles for losses while Bobby McCain has two picks.

On the offensive side, running back Kenneth Farrow will return on Saturday after recovering from an ankle injury; he missed two games. Running Ryan Jackson has stepped in during his absence and leads the team with 398 yards rushing and four scores. Farrow sits in the second spot with his 29 carries for 179 yards.

Both players have seen more opportunity this season after running back Charles Sims left for West Virginia.

For Memphis, their star is redshirt freshman quarterback Paxton Lynch. He has 773 yards (61 percent pass completion) and two touchdowns from the season’s four games to-date. He has running back Marquis Warford as one of his weapons with his 28 carries for 251 yards. His nine yards per carry gives him a No. 4 rank nationally.

Running back Brandon Hayes leads the team with his 307 yards rushing. His strength is the backfield with 63 and 47 yard runs versus Arkansas State. For the game, he had 173 yards. 

But this is Houston he’ll be going up against and they’ll get the win (-9.5, 51.5 o/u).


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