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Game Scout: Louisville vs. Temple

The SportsXchange

KICKOFF: Saturday, Noon ET

GAMEDATE: 9/12/13

SITE: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa.

TV: PPV, ESPN3

SERIES: Temple is 3-3 all-time against Louisville. The Cardinals smoked the Owls last season, 45-17, when both teams were playing in the Big East Conference. Temple actually led twice, 7-0 and 14-7, before Teddy Bridgewater took over to throw a career-best five TDs.

AP RANKINGS: Louisville No. 7, Temple unranked

KEYS TO THE GAME

The Cardinals start their first and only season in the weak American Athletic Conference Saturday against perhaps its weakest team.

At 4-0 and ranked seventh nationally, Louisville makes the trip to Philadelphia to meet a winless Temple team that, among other ignominious feats, has fallen to Fordham and Idaho in consecutive games.

Even on the road, even against a fired-up team, even in a stadium that might only be a third full, this is a game the Cardinals should win by a lot. And if they are as focused as they were in their last contest, a 72-0 pan-frying of Florida International Sept. 21, this could be just as ugly.

"You have to tell them that it is all about us and all about our preparation," coach Charlie Strong said. "It is all about going to be the best. If you are going to be the best team, you are going to have to play like it."

With the exception of occasional lapses against Eastern Kentucky and Kentucky, Louisville has played like it's an elite team. The Teddy Bridgewater-led offense has predictably been explosive, and the defense has played like the shutdown unit it expected to be last year.

The Cardinals have allowed only 27 points in four games, thanks largely to a front seven that is dominating. Opponents are gaining fewer than 100 yards per game on the ground, and the veteran secondary is holding its foes to under 50-percent completions.

Simply put, it doesn't look like a team that can lose a game against a subpar AAC unless it plays down to the level of that week's foe. Strong's major task is to make sure Louisville replicates its early-season focus as it flips the calendar into October.

"We still have to go play," he said. "It doesn't matter what team or who the opponent is, it's all about us preparing our team to go play and making sure we have no slip-ups ourselves. It's all about Temple this week and not to look ahead at anyone else."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Cardinals

--WR DeVante Parker will try to catch a TD pass for the 11th straight game Saturday at Temple. The FBS record is 18 games, held by Larry Fitzgerald of Pittsburgh. Parker has 13 TD receptions in his streak.

--QB Teddy Bridgewater has thrown TD passes in 16 consecutive games, one shy of tying the school record held by Dave Ragone. Ragone notched TD throws in his last nine games of 2001 and the first eight of 2002. Bridgewater has also thrown four or more TD passes four times in his last nine games, starting with five last November against Temple.

--CB Charles Gaines may have moved from wide receiver, but he can still make plays with the ball in his hands. Gaines lugged the opening kickoff of the second half against Florida International 93 yards for a TD. It was the first time the Cardinals have done it since Adrian Bushell ran one back 100 yards at Connecticut in 2011.

Owls

--LB Tyler Matakevich continues to excel. He entered the game averaging an NCAA best 12.0 tackles per game. He had 13 by halftime and finished with a school record 24 stops.

--RB Kenny Harper added two rushing TDs to his season total of 6 TDs, including at least one in each of the Owls four games and continues to be a bright spot on offense.

--WR Jalen Fitzpatrick caught a career-high tying six catches against Idaho, almost doubling his season output. He came into the game with eight catches in the first three games.

--The Owls started one senior on the offensive line against Idaho, LG Jeff Whittingham. He was joined at Idaho by sophomore LT Zach Hooks, redshirt freshman RG Brenden McGowan, and true freshman RT Dion Dawkins.

--QB Connor Reilly connected with Ryan Alderman on a 51-yard TD in the fourth quarter it was the longest play of each player's career. It was also Alderman's first career TD and his game-high 88 yards were a personal best. Alderman now has 15 catches for 221 yards already eclipsing his best college season (2010).
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