|Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is much more established this season then he was when these two teams met last year, a 14-7 UNC win. (Getty Images)|
Kickoff: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC/ESPN2)
Spread: Louisville by 3
Watchability: If nothing else, it's pitting two teams from different BCS conferences. Plus, the sparring head coaches were once colleagues at Florida. The game could be close, but be prepared for Louisville to run away.
Shining stars: North Carolina: QB Bryn Renner. After throwing for over 3,000 yards as a sophomore, Renner has started his junior year strong. Renner has thrown for over 500 yards so far, though he hasn't faced a defense with the Cardinals' level of athleticism. Louisville: QB Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater is quietly having one of the best starts of any quarterback in the country. In two games, he's 49 of 60 for 576 yards and two touchdowns. The key stat for Bridgewater is that he has not yet thrown an interception, which was a problem for him as a freshman.
Who could steal the show: North Carolina: WR Erik Highsmith. The Tar Heels will likely put the ball in the air often against Louisville, and Highsmith could use his 6-3 frame to catch passes over the Cardinals' smaller cornerbacks. The one danger is, any small mistake from Renner will probably end in an interception. Louisville: WR Eli Rogers. A high school teammate of Bridgewater's, Rogers has had something of a slow start. He's only had eight catches total in the first two games, but Rogers could play a bigger role Saturday, especially if the game is close.
You going? Ranking the road trip: In years past, Louisville has been known for having a vibrant tailgating scene. So vibrant, in fact, that some fans chose to stay in the parking in lieu of attending the game. Fans haven't had a chance to go all out this year -- a washout against Kentucky and a not-so-sexy Missouri State team -- but Saturday will be their chance.
Magic number for North Carolina: 2. Tar Heels coach Larry Fedora has twice faced Louisville -- once in 2009, and once in the 2010 Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl -- and he has lost both times.
Magic number for Louisville: 9. In last year's meeting, the Cardinals managed just nine yards of total offense -- prior to a late touchdown drive -- in the second half against UNC. Included were two drives that went for negative yards. The Louisville offense is much more efficient under Bridgewater than it was a season ago, however. We'll see if the Tar Heel defense stands up again.
The game comes down to: Confidence. Louisville is confident. But North Carolina, after losting to Wake Forest, is not. If the Cards get an early jump, look for them to run away.
Prediction: Louisville 21, North Carolina 17
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