After losing Teddy Bridgewater to the NFL and head coach Charlie Strong to the Texas Longhorns, the Louisville Cardinals looked to fade away into nothingness, but that hasn’t been the case at all in 2014. Head coach Bobby Petrino has led the Cardinals to a 2-0 record, including a solid win over the Miami Hurricanes in week one.
Mike London is on the hot seat this season and he’s surely feeling the heat as the Virginia Cavaliers are off to a 1-1 start to the 2014 campaign. Their record is deceiving, however, as the Cavaliers put up a solid fight against a top-ranked UCLA Bruins squad in week one and fell short by just a touchdown. Don’t sleep on Virginia this season.
Bridgewater seemed to be the face of the Cardinals for years as he was considered one of the best quarterbacks in the nation year after year while at Louisville. Now that he’s gone, the Cardinals have had to find a new signal-caller and that has been sophomore Will Gardner who has completed 66 percent of his passes for 339 yards and four touchdowns – he has yet to throw a pick. His favorite target has been Eli Rogers who has caught 10 passes for 110 yards but has yet to reach the endzone. Gerald Christian, however, has caught nine passes for 91 yards and has scored two touchdowns. Dominique Brown leads the solid run game with 183 yards and two scores on 38 carries while L.J. Scott is right behind him with 128 yards and a score on 9.1 yards per carry.
Virginia has relied on a couple sophomore quarterbacks to get the job done this season as Matt Johns and Greyson Lambert have produced similar numbers under center this season. Johns is the starter right now and he has completed 17 or 29 passes for 219 yards and three touchdowns while Lambert has completed 29 of 38 passes for 214 yards and a score. Lambert has three interceptions to Johns’ one, however. Darius Jennings has been the target of choice for the quarterbacks as he has caught seven passes for 118 yards and a touchdown. Canaan Severin is close behind with seven catches of his own for 88 yards and two scores. Kevin Parks leads the 93rd-ranked run game with 107 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries.
Defensively, Virginia held the Bruins in check, but allowed Richmond to torch the defense through the air with 363 passing yards. Holding UCLA to under 400 yards was quite the accomplishment, though. Louisville, on the other hand, was known for its defense last season and has allowed just 17 points per game this season. The Cardinals held both Murray State and Miami to under 300 total yards and 100 rushing yards each so far this season.
Louisville will travel to Virginia to take on the Cavaliers at 12:30 p.m. EST on Saturday, Sept. 13. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN 3.
PREDICTION: Louisville 30, Virginia 20
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.