|Louisville leading receiver Andrell Smith scored his first touchdown of the season Saturday against Florida International. (US Presswire)|
Kickoff: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)
Spread: Louisville by 10.5
Watchability: Southern Miss has experienced quite a drop since former coach Larry Fedora bolted for North Carolina, as the Golden Eagles are near the bottom of the NCAA in most offensive and defensive categories. However, Louisville struggled last weekend on the road, so this one is certainly worth a peek early.
Shining stars: Louisville: WR Andrell Smith. Of course, Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will be the best player on the field, but Smith has emerged as the sophomore's favorite target. The senior receiver appeared to be the odd man out at the season's start, with several talented skill players around him, but his 14 catches is easily the most of any Louisville receiver. Southern Mississippi: DL Jamie Collins. The senior anchors a defense that hasn't stopped anyone this season, which is hardly a ringing endorsement. Still, Collins leads the team in tackles, tackles for loss and sacks. He'll need some help Saturday trying to keep Bridgewater and the Louisville offense in check.
Who could steal the show: Louisville: WR Charles Gaines. The Cardinals coaching staff has been waiting for Gaines to break out, and Saturday will be a good opportunity against a weak Southern Miss defense. The passing game was off last week in muddy Miami, but Bridgewater and Co. will have a chance for redemption Saturday, and Gaines could benefit big time. Southern Mississippi: RB Desmond Johnson. The Golden Eagles passing attack is atrocious, so if Sothern Miss is to keep this game competitive it'll have to make gains on the ground. Johnson, a senior, has been the most efficient runner thus far, averaging over five yards a carry, though he hasn't yet found the end zone.
You going? Ranking the road trip: This is the first of two consecutive games against ranked opponents for Southern Miss -- No. 24 Boise State visits next week -- so this could be a chance for Golden Eagles fans to see the first leg of two huge upsets. Or it could be a chance to see their favorite team get blown out. From Louisville's perspective, it's Cardinals fans' last chance to go south for a game. Their remaining away games are at Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Rutgers.
Magic number for Louisville: 38.3. Southern Miss gives up, on average, 38.3 points per game. The Louisville offense is potent, but it hasn't put together a full game of offensive dominance. Saturday would be a great chance to get rolling headed into conference play.
Magic number for Southern Miss: 120. The Golden Eagles are ranked 120th -- of 124 -- in the nation in passing offense. Look for the Cards to stack the box and force Southern Miss quarterback Chris Campbell to beat them with his arm.
The game comes down to: Focus. Louisville has shown signs of dominance, but also some signs of complacency. It won't matter this week, but the Cards need to maintain focus if they expect to win the Big East.
Prediction: Louisville 34, Southern Mississippi 10
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