Rutgers hasn’t beaten Louisville since 2009, but the last two games have been decided by a total of five points. The 5-0 Cardinals deserve their high ranking (No. 8), but it’s fair to maintain skepticism given their schedule: Temple is 0-5; Florida International and Kentucky are 1-4; Eastern Kentucky is a bad FCS team.
Rutgers has shown some offensive firepower this season, but the defense will be key tonight. The Scarlet Knights rank second in the country in rushing defense (yards per attempt allowed). Louisville, led by Heisman candidate quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, is more than happy to throw the ball, but all teams prefer balance. If Rutgers can make Louisville one-dimensional—and then get after Bridgewater—they have a chance at the upset.
If Louisville wins easily, it will confirm what many believed at the start of the season: that the Cards will breeze through the American Athletic Conference. Louisville also gets Central Florida and Houston at home.
What has happened to the Red River Rivalry?
Last year, for the first time since 1999, neither Texas nor Oklahoma was ranked in the top 10 at the time of their meeting. Both teams were ranked, however, as they usually are when they play. Looking at the best rivalries in college football, Texas-OU compares favorably when you consider rankings. From 2000 through last season, no other rivalry had at least one team in the top 10 at the time of the matchup more times than this one (12). Texas-OU also had the most matchups where both teams were ranked in the top 25 (11). Granted, these teams play earlier in the season than many of the other major rivalries, and so the teams have had fewer opportunities to lose and drop in the polls. But still, this was a game with major national implications.
Not so much in the last few years. Texas’ struggles have been well documented. After losing in the 2009 national championship, the Longhorns have posted records of 5-7, 8-5, and 9-4. They are 3-2 this season and Longhorn fans are worried about a third straight blowout loss to OU (Texas is a 14.5-point underdog). If that happens, Mack Brown’s fate may be sealed.
Fun Fact: There are currently 17 undefeated teams, including aforementioned Louisville and Oklahoma. The most there can be at the end of the season is eight. There won’t be nearly that many, of course. The least surprising is probably Louisville, given their expectations and schedule. The most surprising? I could say Miami or Clemson, each of which pulled off minor upsets. But I’ll say Missouri, since you may have forgotten they are 5-0 and this milestone should be documented in case the Tigers end up with six losses.
Fun Fact No. 2: This one is much more fun, I promise. Last Saturday, Michigan State beat Iowa 26-14. In that game, Michigan State’s punter gained more rushing yards than Iowa. His 25 yard scamper on a fake punt was more than the 23 yards the Hawkeyes tallied on the ground. The Spartans have by far the best run defense in the country right now, allowing less than 2 yards per carry.