UConn-Louisville Preview


After putting together the best start in school history, Louisville saw its bid for an undefeated season come to an end its last time out.

While the No. 19 Cardinals still have a shot at the Big East title, they'll have to go after it without leading rusher Senorise Perry.

Louisville hopes to overcome Perry's absence and get back on track Saturday against road-challenged Connecticut.

The Cardinals (9-1, 4-1) allowed an average of 337.2 yards while opening 9-0 before yielding a season-high 524 in a 45-26 loss at Syracuse on Nov. 10. The defeat dropped Louisville into second place in the conference, one game behind No. 21 Rutgers with two to play - including a showdown with the Scarlet Knights next Thursday.

"What's important now is we have two games left. This is a two-game season and our players understand that," coach Charlie Strong told the school's official athletics website.

"I told them, 'Guys, I know this. We go to Syracuse and we got our butt kicked in. Still though, you have to beat Rutgers to go win it.' So, your goal is still there. Whatever is in front of us is still there. It's all about taking care of Connecticut. Let's not worry about Rutgers."

While Louisville will try to keep its focus on the Huskies (4-6, 1-4), its thoughts will also surely be with Perry, who entered Week 11 with a conference-best 11 rushing touchdowns before tearing his right ACL on the opening series against the Orange.

With Perry out for the season, the Cardinals plan to lean on Jeremy Wright. The junior ranks second on the team with 680 rushing yards but managed just 29 on 10 carries versus Syracuse.

"I think we will be OK running the football," Strong said. "You look at the running backs and you know Senorise was a big-time part of our running game. ... You miss Senorise just because he's played so much."

With a week off following its loss, Louisville appears eager to get back on the field.

"It came at a great time for us," Strong said of the bye week. "You're looking at a football team that is still 9-1. ... This has been a special season. Our players have made an unbelievable run.

"The important thing is for us not to let one setback turn to frustration, excuse-making, lack of responsibility and poor individual habits. Always look at what we have left. Never look back at what we have lost. A losing team looks for excuses. A championship team looks for solutions."

Louisville, which has outscored opponents by an average of 14.0 points in going 6-0 at home, figures to find some answers against UConn. The Huskies lost their first four conference games but finally broke through Nov. 9 with a 24-17 win over Pittsburgh.

"We look at each other and see what we are capable of doing," said tight end Ryan Griffin, who hauled in six receptions for a season-high 84 yards and a touchdown. "Luckily tonight, we were hitting on all cylinders. We played well on both sides of the ball. ... This got us rejuvenated for the rest of the season for sure."

UConn could have a hard time keeping things going on the road, where it's been limited to an average of 10.8 points during a four-game losing streak. The Huskies, though, are yielding a Big East-low 188.6 passing yards per game and looking forward to the challenge of trying to contain Teddy Bridgewater.

Bridgewater, who recorded a career-high 424 passing yards against Syracuse, has thrown 21 TD passes compared to just five picks and ranks fifth in the FBS with a 168.7 passer rating.

"Louisville is obviously an excellent team," UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni said. "They have one of the top quarterbacks in the country. It will be a hostile environment for sure, a tough place to play."

Connecticut had taken three straight in this series before losing the last two, including a 26-0 defeat the last time it visited Louisville in 2010.

The Huskies have dropped eight straight matchups against ranked foes by an average of 18.5 points.