Oct. 23, 2012
Brandon ~nbsp>Dunn | Preston ~nbsp>Brown
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - After giving up almost 200 yards on the ground, the University of Louisville football team's defense must be better this week against the top rushing offense in the BIG EAST Conference and the 16th best in the nation.
At 7-0, 2-0 in league play, the Cardinals are preparing for their biggest game in years. Louisville is 7-0 for only the third time in school history and only two other teams in school history have reached 8-0, so the Cardinals must be ready to play Friday night in front of a national audience.
Cincinnati, which dropped a 29-23 decision last week at Toledo, comes into Friday night's showdown with an average of 225.7 yards on the ground and one of the league's best backs in George Winn, who ranks second in the league and 27th nationally. Winn has gained 607 yards on the ground and is averaging 6.3 yards per carry.
"Everybody has to play physical at the point of contact," said junior defensive tackle Brandon Dunn. "We have to get off blocks. Communicating is the biggest thing. We watch so much film and we practice so hard. We go through a lot of plays on scout team, so we just have to understand that if we put our Tuesday practice into the game, we should be fine."
The Cardinals have been one of the best defenses in the nation over the last couple years against the run. While the Cardinals still rank 34th nationally in rushing defense, they yielded 224 yards on the ground to Southern Mississippi on Sept. 29 and allowed 197 yards in the win over USF last Saturday.
Cincinnati has beaten the Cardinals in four-straight seasons and has won the last two in the Cardinals' backyard, which is something that is on the minds of the Cardinal players.
"We haven't beaten them in four years," said Dunn. "We have to come ready to play. We have a short week and we have to keep grinding through it. We have to give everything we have on Friday night. Then, we can relax on Saturday. It's all about Cincinnati from here on out."
Junior quarterback Munchie Legaux presents a lot of problems for the Cardinals, who will face an athletic quarterback for the second-straight week. He has run for 264 yards and three touchdowns, so the thought of facing another one-dimensional quarterback can go out the window.
"He is an athletic guy who can run around and make plays with his feet and with his arm, so we just have to contain him," said junior linebacker Preston Brown. "They have a couple of good running backs and a good group of wide receivers. I'm sure they are going to try to come in here and run the football at us after what they saw last week."
If the Cardinals can stop the run and put the Bearcats in long distance situations, they have an opportunity to make history and become just the third team to be 8-0 and 3-0 in the BIG EAST Conference.
The Bearcats and Cardinals, two rivals from Conference USA and now in the BIG EAST, have a long-standing rivalry that dates back to 1928, which makes this game even bigger, not that two undefeated league teams in the BIG EAST need any more on the line.