|Munchie Legaux's mouth may have gotten him in trouble Tuesday when he said he was better than Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater -- unless he can back it up. (US Presswire)|
Kickoff: Friday, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Spread: Louisville by 3.5
Watchability: As if you needed reminding, the Cardinals and Bearcats are two of three teams with a chance to win the conference. The winner Friday has a definite leg up on the league. More proof: Coach Charlie Strong called it the biggest game since he has been at Louisville.
Shining stars: Cincinnati -- QB Munchie Legaux. As if this game needed further allure, Legaux took to running his mouth Tuesday. A reporter asked if he and Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater were similar and Legaux said, simply, "I'm better." He's not, but he has been solid in his first year as starter, throwing 12 touchdowns against five interceptions through the season's first half. Louisville -- Bridgewater has established himself as the conference's best quarterback. Hands down. He's virtually impossible to sack, and he completes better than 73 percent of his throws. He can beat you with his legs or arm, and no defense has figured out how to contain him.
Who could steal the show: Cincinnati -- RB George Winn. The Cardinal defense has, at times, been vulnerable against the run. Winn, a pleasant surprise so far this season for the Bearcat offense, is averaging over six yards a carry. Louisville is going to be targeting Legaux -- the defense will need to be careful not to let Winn go wild. Louisville -- DE Lorenzo Mauldin. The reigning Big East defensive player of the week, Mauldin will try to follow up on his performance Saturday against South Florida, when he had two sacks, three tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a recovered fumble. If the Cards can jump ahead and force Cincinnati to rely completely on the pass then Mauldin will have even more opportunities to tee off on Legaux.
You going? Ranking the road trip: It's hard to argue with Strong's sentiment, and the importance of this game in the league cannot be overstated. Papa John's Cardinal Stadium will be rocking, and the Friday night atmosphere should be intense.
Magic number for Cincinnati: 4. The Bearcats have won the last four times these two have played, including a 25-16 victory last year in Cincy.
Magic number for Louisville: 20. Under Strong, the Cardinals are just 1-8 when scoring 20 points or less. They are 36-6 when eclipsing the 20-point mark. On average, the Bearcats give up 16.8 points per game.
The game comes down to: Cincinnati bouncing back. The Bearcats loss to Toledo was bad, but that stench would be hastily removed with a win at Louisville. A good start to quiet the crowd is imperative.
Prediction: Louisville 35, Cincinnati 17
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