Ohio at Louisville 2013: Game Preview

Jamie Sabau

The Bobcats return many of the skill positions that led them to a 9-4 record a season ago. Louisville's high-powered offense returns the more than efficient Teddy Bridgewater who led them to a Sugar Bowl victory over Florida in January.

College football’s opening weekend features a Sunday game with the Ohio Bobcats and a Teddy Bridgewater led Louisville Cardinals squad.

The game will be on ESPN at 3:30 p.m. places Ohio on a national stage just as it was a year ago against Penn State in Happy Valley. The Bobcats took down the Nittany Lions in 2012, but just about any sports fan would acknowledge that this is a much taller task. The Bridgewater led Cardinals, ranked ninth in the nation, are coming off of a Sugar Bowl victory over then No. 3. Florida, and have high expectations entering 2013.

Bridgewater broke out a year ago as a legit Heisman candidate, when he passed for 3,718 yards, tossing 27 touchdowns, and completing an impressive 68.5 percent of his passes. Complimenting Bridgewater is an impressive offensive group that features Senorise Perry and Dominique Brown returning in the backfield, as well as seven offensive starters. DeVante Parker contributes to an explosive receiving group after having scored 10 touchdowns last season, and Damian Copeland who gathered up 628 yards on 50 receptions is also back. Oh, and if that wasn't enough, Michael Dyer, MVP of the 2011 BCS National Championship Game while he was a freshman at Auburn, is now a Cardinal and is ready to go for this game.

Head coach Charlie Strong’s starting defense lost only two starters from a year ago and stands to provide a stiff challenge to the Bobcats' offense. If Ohio is going to get the ball rolling on offense, it's going to need to get Beau Blankenship going early. Tyler Tettleton's will need to play a near perfect game as well, piggybacking off his highly efficient season a year ago in which he threw just four interceptions. Ohio will have to make the most of its possessions if it wants to have a chance of outscoring the Louisville offense. The team needs consistent efforts across the board, and a strong performance form a defensive line full of new faces, and a secondary that was ravaged by injury in 2012, it it hopes to have a shot in the game. Currently, the 'Cats are a three-score underdog.

Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium averaged just short of 50,000 in attendance in 2012 and will be rocking in an environment that may rival what the Bobcats encountered a year ago in Happy Valley. Even if they are not the beloved darlings of the state, the U of L boasts a dedicated fan base that comes out in big numbers to cheer on its Cardinals. The large and intimidating crowd adds another element that Ohio will need to overcome if it hopes to come away with the upset.

Though Ohio is a heavy underdog, we've witnessed them pull off big victories before. While the Louisville game is arguably the toughest test the 'Cats have faced yet, if Ohio can play a near-perfect game, and slow the Cardinals' offense just enough, they could come away victorious.

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