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Rutgers, Louisville Take National Stage for Thursday Night Game

For #8 Louisville (5-0, 1-0), they’ll face its toughest test to-date when they host Rutgers (4-1, 1-0) on Thursday night.

The Scarlet Knights will enter the game after a triple-overtime 55-52 win over SMU (1-4, 0-1) but this number of points isn’t anything new for them as they lost in Week 1 against #21 Fresno State (5-0, 2-0), 52-51. These high-scoring games have come from its running game and look for the team to bring it with them against Louisville.

Rutgers will also use the same scheme as last week with running back Savon Huggins getting the starting nod, followed by true freshman back Justin Goodwin playing in the second series. Last week, Goodwin had 24 carries for 148 yards and two scores. He can also catch, adding two receptions for 73 receiving yards. But look for both players to have plenty of carries on Thursday.

This comes as the team’s top rusher, running back Paul James, is out with a lower leg injury and will miss the game.

Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova has 13 touchdowns and sits behind Louisville’s quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s 16 to top the AAC. Nova also has 1,171 yards (58.5 percent) and four interceptions.

Teddy Bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater

But the spotlight will be on Bridgewater. In this nationally-televised game, the stadium will include NFL scouts watching the player. According to NFL.com, this will include 26 scouts with three coming from the Jacksonville Jaguars as well as the Pittsburgh Steelers GM and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ director of scouting.

They’ll look to see if Bridgewater can live up to his hype as he sits as the No. 3 passer in NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks’ college football quarterback rankings. He has an average of 312.4 passing yards per game (71.7 percent completion), 16 touchdowns and one interception.

Bridgewater sits with 13/2 odds to win the Heisman. The question had been posed to him this week on who he is most similar to in the NFL and he said Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

This kid is confident.

Meanwhile, in addition to Bridgewater having a good game, the Cardinals defense will have its hands full with Rutgers’ offense who averages 40 points per game. For the season to-date, the Cardinals have given up a total of 34 points but Rutgers is a much better team their the previous competition.

While Rutger has adapted to the absence of James, the Cardinals’ may have to deal with the absence of top wide receiver DaVante Parker (shoulder); he is a game-time decision. He leads the team with his 21 receptions, 375 yards and six scores.

Fortunately for Louisville, they have a deep group of receivers and they have plenty of playing time. In Parker’s absence, Bridgewater will likely connect with receivers Damian Copeland (264 yards, three touchdowns) and Eli Rogers (279, two touchdowns) as well as tight end Gerald Christian (three touchdowns).

Look for Rutgers to challenge the Cardinals. In their last six games, the win has been determined by three points or lower. Rutgers got burned last year with a 17-20 loss to the Cardinals and they haven’t forgotten about it.

Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said of last year’s outcome via NorthJersey.com, “I don’t think the players who were on the field for that game last year have forgotten it. Certainly when you get to the end of the year and you play a championship game, and that’s what it ended up being, and you come up a couple plays short, I don’t know that anybody needs to be reminded of that. Winning this game does not take back what happened last year. We’ve got an opportunity to stay undefeated in the conference. I don’t think we need any more motivation than that.”


While both teams are hungry for the win, a big nod goes to Louisville (-19, 54.5 o/u).



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