MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Last season, Florida International marched into Louisville and pulled out an impressive upset victory over a BCS conference team. This year, FIU is struggling on both sides of the ball and Louisville is coming to Miami looking for revenge.
Last year’s upset of Louisville was powered by wide receiver T.Y. Hilton who is now playing with the Indianapolis Colts. But based on Louisville’s early season performance, FIU may need to call the Colts and ask to borrow Hilton for the weekend.
FIU is giving up 39 points per game and has surrendered 11 passing touchdowns to just three interceptions for the Panthers. FIU’s defense, which was supposed to be the foundation of the team has been rough thus far in the season, surrendering points on opponents red zone trips 93 percent of the time, according to cfbstats.com.
Enter Louisville, one of the hottest teams in the country, with a young quarterback who is starting to make real noise on the national scene. The Cardinals are averaging 35 points per game and have yet to give up an interception this season.
Louisville wasn’t challenged in their first three contests until the second half of last week’s game against the University of North Carolina. After racing out to 39 points, the Cardinals had to hold on at the end of the game to preserve a 39-34 victory over the Tar Heels.
The Cardinals offense is led by quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who is from Miami. The sophomore quarterback is completing a stunning 81.8 percent of his passes and has thrown for 855 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions. He’s throwing for roughly 285 yards per game this season.
Louisville is ranked 36th in the nation in total offense, gaining 467.7 yards of offense per game, according to cfbstats.com. Conversely, FIU is ranked 87th in the country in total defense, giving up 421 yards per game.
Still, Louisville isn’t taking anything for granted after last week’s heart-stopper against UNC.
“It shouldn’t have gotten to that point,” safety Hakeem Smith said of having to hold off the Tar Heels, adding that the team was still upset by its defensive breakdowns. “It’s a new week.”
Cardinals’ sophomore safety Calvin Pryor concedes that he and his teammates underestimated the Golden Panthers last year in their first-ever matchup.
“It was early in the season and we just thought FIU was a bad football team to be honest with you,” said Pryor, who leads the Cardinals with 23 tackles and is tied for second nationally with three forced fumbles.
The game marks a homecoming for 33 Cardinals players from Florida. But Pryor said his teammates are more concerned about handling business than visiting with family and friends after being “embarrassed” last year.
“You’ve got that feeling in your stomach, we just know it’s revenge time,” Pryor said. “We’ve just got to go down to Miami ready to play.”
Louisville and FIU will kick-off at 7 p.m. at FIU Stadium on Saturday. The game can be seen on ESPN3.com.