Thursday Night Bites: Louisville at Rutgers
You have but one option for college football viewing this Thursday evening, and that is a battle for conference supremacy between Rutgers and Louisville, two teams that would like very much not to be in that conference anymore. We’re sure you have so many questions.
• What information do I, the discerning sports fan, require in order to consume this game? The Cardinals and Scarlet Knights are scheduled to kick off at 7:31 p.m. ET at High Point Solutions Stadium. The sold-out game will be televised on ESPN and streamed on WatchESPN.
• What’s at stake here? Oh, lots. A Rutgers victory tonight pretty much solves everything as far as the conference championship is concerned: Win, and the Scarlet Knights will head to a BCS bowl as the Big East’s only team with fewer than two losses in conference play. A Louisville win here followed by a Cincinnati win over UConn on Saturday would create our favorite postseason thing: a multi-team tie for first place in the conference standings, between Rutgers, Cincinnati, Louisville and Syracuse.
• So if Rutgers hadn’t been pantsed by PITT, we wouldn’t be in this predicament at all, no? Correct. The Orange, Cardinals and Bearcats all have two conference losses already. The Panthers have had a funny way of throwing wrenches and near-wrenches like that this year. As fans of regimented chaos, we have never been fonder of them.
• What are some historical numbers fans of either side can quote as though they have some kind of talismanic power to sway the game? Rutgers leads Louisville 4-1 when playing in Piscataway; but Louisville holds a slight series edge (4/7) since joining the Big East.
• What are we to be watching for tonight? While we’re predisposed to like Rutgers’ quarterback because his name is Gary Nova and that makes him sound like an astronaut, we’re more interested in how the offense of the Cardinals will match up against the Scarlet Knights’ fourth-ranked scoring defense. Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater captains one of the nation’s most efficient passing offenses, but he’ll be operating this evening on, at maximum, two good limbs. He was already battling a right ankle sprain when he sustained a broken left wrist last week against UConn. Rutgers’ defense, led by reigning Big East Defensive Player of the Year Khaseem Greene, trails only Notre Dame and Alabama in touchdowns allowed this season. The senior linebacker leads the team in sacks and the conference in tackling. The Scarlet Knights are allowing, on average, just under 14 points a game. The Cardinals are scoring, on average, around 32.
• Anything else we should be aware of? This game is why the Empire State building will glow red all night. Via Rutgers sports info, “It marks the second time the Empire State Building has been lit red for Rutgers Football. The other occasion was Rutgers’ 28-25 victory over Louisville in 2006 in a matchup of undefeated teams.” Is Rutgers aware that Louisville also wears red sometimes? It would appear not. Does this have anything to do with Lindsay Lohan getting arrested? Maybe! Nightclub scuffles have been inspired by sillier arguments than those concerning color wheels.