Tonight’s battle for the Keg of Nails may be Charlie Strong’s biggest game since he’s been the coach here at Louisville. Although unranked and coming off a tough loss to Toledo, Butch Jones and the Cincinnati Bearcats are likely the best team Louisville will face at this point in the season. That will change then Louisville heads to Piscataway later in the season to take on Rutgers, but at this point, the Bearcats will be Louisville’s biggest test. The excitement level for this game is already high, but just imagine if both teams were undefeated. Cincinnati’s loss to Toledo was a huge buzz kill for the Big East. With Cincinnati’s loss to a MAC team, Strong and the Cards will get very little respect on a national level if they beat Cincinnati and will be called a fraud of they lose.
Louisville’s defense has been inconsistent at best this season. Vance Bedford and the D will be put to a huge test tonight as they look to shut down the top offense in the Big East. The Bearcats average 34 points and 467 yards per game. Dual-threat quarterback Munchie Legaux has completed 53.3% of his passes for 1435 yards with 12 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Munchie isn’t nearly as good as he thinks he is, but the New Orleans native is definitely a threat to make plays. Senior George Winn leads Cincinnati’s rushing attack averaging 101 yards per game. He’s averaging an impressed 6.26 yards per carry. Sophomore Ralph David Abernathy doesn’t get nearly as many carries as Winn, but is just as effective. He leads the Big East in yards per carry at 6.62. Winn also has 14 receptions on the season. Cincinnati doesn’t have the depth that Louisville has at wide receiver, but Legaux has plenty of weapons. Tight End Travis Kelce leads the Bearcats in receiving yards with 286. He’s averaging 22 yards per catch. The wide receiver trio of Anthony McClung, Kenbrell Thompkins and Damon Julian provide solid depth and experience.
Cincinnati’s defense isn’t as strong as their offense and will be without senior defensive lineman Walter Stewart, who leads the Bearcats in sacks. Cincinnati gives up just 16 points per game, but allows over 350 yards of offense. They’ve forced 13 turnovers on the season. Senior linebacker Greg Blair leads Cincinnati with 9 tackles per game. He also has two interceptions. Defensive backs Cameron Cheatham and Arryn Chenault have a pair of interception a piece and are two of the top five tacklers on the team. The Bearcats defense has benefited from a solid turnover margin and a successful offense. Like Louisville, Cincinnati’s defense will be put to a big test tonight. They haven’t faced a quarterback like Teddy Bridgewater and an offense like Louisville.
Considering that both teams have high powered offenses, I think we may be in for a shoot out tonight. The only thing that would prevent that is terrible weather. Although it’s supposed to be cold and slightly rainy, it doesn’t look like the wind will be too bad.
I think we see a different type of intensity from this Louisville team tonight. The smack talk from Munchie Legaux seems it may have worked against him. I predict the Cards win a close one 35-31.