The college football season is winding down, and every game means something.
Although all eyes will be on the SEC Championship game between Alabama and Georgia, there is a midweek Big East battle that deserves some attention.
On Thursday night, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and the Louisville Cardinals play with BCS implications on the line.
Last week, Rutgers laid an egg against Pittsburgh and fell flat in an embarrassing 27-6 defeat.
That loss set the Scarlet Knights back in the race for the Big East title and knocked them out of the AP Top 25 college football rankings. Luckily for Rutgers, another Big East contender suffered an unforgivable loss.
The Louisville Cardinals managed to go to overtime against the inferior UConn Huskies, but they still left with a loss. That loss knocked the Cardinals from the college football rankings, but the focus of the defeat is an injury to quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Bridgewater injured his non-throwing left wrist on a sack late in the game against the Huskies. He returned from the injury to navigate the Cardinals down the field for a scoring drive to tie the game.
To make matters worse, Bridgewater suffered a lower ankle injury in overtime.
Louisville’s head coach points to the wrist injury as the main area of concern. ‘‘The leg injury is fine,’’ Louisville coach Charlie Strong said after the game. ‘‘I would say he either fractured or broke his wrist.’’ (via Boston.com)
The Cardinals will need him in the lineup if they hope to stay alive for a BCS berth. They will also need some help from other teams in the Big East. For Louisville to grab the BCS berth, they need to beat Rutgers and have Cincinnati lose to UConn. There is a scenario that involves a three-way logjam atop the Big East, but for Rutgers it’s simple.
For Rutgers to get the BCS game, they just need to win this game against Louisville at home on Thursday night.
The college football odds for this game have Rutgers labeled as (-2.5) point favorites over Louisville. This line is set up due to the home-field advantage in what should be a close game.
Like Louisville, Rutgers is hurting on offense.
Jawan Jamison is still recovering from an ankle injury, and quarterback Gary Nova was knocked out of the game against Pittsburgh (his status is currently up in the air). Since it is suspected to be a head injury, do not be shocked to see Chas Dodd under center for Rutgers.
The real edge in this game can be found on defense.
Before the game against Pittsburgh on Saturday, the Knights had allowed just 44 points in conference play this season, the fewest of any I-A team in college football. That defense will feast on a banged-up quarterback and an offensive line that allowed five sacks against UConn.
This defense also knows how to get the turnover. After recovering a fumble against Pittsburgh, that marked the 14th game in a row that Rutgers has forced a turnover.
Although they won’t admit it, Rutgers was distracted last week with the announcement that they are moving to the Big Ten. The loss against Pittsburgh is a wake-up call that will have this team focused for the game against Louisville.
This will be a tough, physical game, and the Scarlet Knights will emerge victorious securing a BCS bowl game.
Louisville vs Rutgers Predictions: Rutgers 17 Louisville 14