|Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had been impressive, even in monsoon-like conditions. (AP)|
Kickoff: Saturday, 11 a.m. ET (ESPNU)
Spread: Louisville by 3
Watchability: Everyone is waiting for Louisville to bust out. The same could be said for Pittsburgh. It could happen Saturday. Plus, there's nothing better than rolling out of bed and watching football.
Shining stars: Louisville: QB Teddy Bridgewater. After completing 73 percent of his passes in his first five games, Bridgewater is (finally) beginning to get some Heisman consideration. The sophomore has been unflappable, despite his team's lackluster performance in a couple of soggy games against inferior opponents. The Cards still haven't lost, though, and the weather looks clear Saturday morning in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh: QB Tino Sunseri. Along with Syracuse senior Ryan Nassib, Sunseri has been one of the nation's most prolific passers -- pretty much out of nowhere. He's leaned on receivers Devin Street and Mike Shanahan, and if running back Ray Graham ever gets back to normal -- he's close -- the Pitt offense will be a chore to contain. And with Louisville's defense looking shaky in the early season, this could be a game where the Panthers drop the hammer.
Who could steal the show: Louisville: DE Marcus Smith. Pittsburgh is not very protective of Sunseri, as he is one of the most sacked quarterbacks in college football. Louisville, however, has only recorded five sacks this season. If anyone is going to get a rush on Sunseri, it's Smith off the edge. In his first year playing the position in 2011, he had 5.5 sacks. This could be his breakout game in 2012. Pittsburgh: LB Shane Gordon. Really, the Pittsburgh defense as a unit could take over Saturday. In its last three games (Virginia Tech, Gardner-Webb, Syracuse), the defense has only surrendered two touchdowns and two field goals. Gordon is second on the team in tackles and leads in tackles for loss in his first season as a fulltime starter.
You going? Ranking the road trip: The early start may drive some folks away, but this is a big game for Pitt, which is trying to salvage its season after some questionable and difficult losses. A lot of that can be undone with a win Saturday. The Panthers will be ready to play, and it will be interesting to see what sort of atmospher Heinz Field has with the morning kick.
Magic number for Louisville: 3. The Cards will be looking for their third consecutive win away from home after beating Florida International and Southern Mississippi on the road.
Magic number for Pittsburgh: 4. The Panthers have beaten Louisville in four straight games, including last year's 21-14 victory at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
The game comes down to: Louisville. If the Cardinals show up Saturday ready to play a full game -- something they haven't done all year -- they win easily. The Cards have looked sluggish to begin games, and they are going to get Pitt's best shot. Then again, this could be when Charlie Strong's team wakes up. It could go either way.
Eye on College Football's take: It's been nearly a month since Louisville has competed in "normal" conditions, and there could be some rust with the 11 a.m. ET start. Heinz Field, particularly with that kick time, is not expected to present a big home field advantage for the Panthers, but this is the first conference road game of the season. Pittsburgh caught Virginia Tech sleepwalking and jumped out to a 21-3 halftime lead on the way to an upset of the Hokies -- ranked No. 13 at the time. The very talented, but still very young, Cardinals have an opportunity to set the tone for conference play on Saturday. They just can't afford to oversleep the alarm. -- Chip Patterson
Prediction: Pittsburgh 21, Louisville 20
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