MIAMI (AP) — There’s little chance that Louisville will overlook Florida International this week. And FIU can blame Virginia for that.
When the Cavaliers knocked off Louisville 23-21 last weekend, whatever possibility there was of the Cardinals taking their trip to FIU lightly probably went up in smoke. Louisville embarrassed FIU last season, winning 72-0 in the second-largest shutout win that any team in major college football enjoyed during the 2013 campaign.
But now, instead of maybe expecting another laugher, the Cardinals (2-1) are looking to atone for mistakes made a week ago when they visit the Panthers (1-2) on Saturday afternoon.
“It’s a completely new year, two new teams, new schemes, new staff,” Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said. “We’ve got to go down and prove that we’re a good football team and that’s what we’re going to work hard to do.”
It’s the second straight week that FIU has faced a bigger-name opponent from the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Panthers jumped out to a 16-0 lead after one quarter on Pittsburgh last week, before falling 42-25.
Pittsburgh came in with a very run-oriented offense. FIU is bracing for more balance from Louisville, which may mean more problems as well.
“It’s going to be a different challenge than what it was a week ago,” FIU coach Ron Turner said. “It’s just as big of a challenge, but a different challenge.”
To call last season’s Louisville game a disaster for FIU would be an understatement.
FIU ran 43 plays, gaining a total of 27 yards. All 27 of those yards came on four pass completions; the 34 rushes FIU tried gained a total of zero yards. No individual running play collected more than six yards and the Panthers punted 11 times in 13 possessions; the other two FIU offensive series ended because the game clock expired, perhaps mercifully.
The numbers wound up being staggering.
— The 72-point loss matched the worst endured by a FBS team in more than a decade. The last time an FBS team lost by more than 72 was Texas A&M, which was beaten 77-0 by Oklahoma in 2003.
— The 27 total yards were the fewest by a major college football team since at least 1996.
— FIU never ran an offensive play in Louisville territory. The Panthers got to the Louisville 49 once, but punted on that ensuing play.
And here’s some bad news for FIU: Even with a regime and quarterback change, Turner sees plenty of similarities between last year’s Louisville and this year’s Louisville.
“There are not a lot of differences, to be honest,” Turner said.
Here’s what to know when Louisville and FIU face off this weekend:
RECRUITING BASE: Just about every team recruits in Florida, and Louisville tries to get as many players from the hotbed state as anyone. The Cardinals tend to put on a good impression when facing Sunshine State opposition, winning eight of their last nine games against Floridaschools.
HOMESTAND CONTINUES: By the end of the weekend, FIU will be one of three teams to already have played four home games this season. South Florida and Vanderbilt are the others. Entering this week, the Panthers, Bulls and Commodores have a combined record of 3-6, so maybe getting out on the road will be a good change of pace.
MISSING BONNAFON: Louisville will be without reserve quarterback Reggie Bonnafon this weekend. Bonnafon’s father died earlier this week, and Petrino said the funeral is scheduled for Saturday. Bonnafon has completed 14 of 20 passes this season for 151 yards and a touchdown.
MCGOUGH DEVELOPING: FIU true freshman quarterback Alex McGough has thrown for two touchdowns in each of his last two games. The last FIU quarterback to have multiple touchdown tosses in consecutive games was Jake Medlock, his coming against South Alabama and Florida Atlantic in November 2012. McGough threw for 224 yards and ran for another score in last week’s loss to Pitt.
STILL IMPRESSIVE: Even with last week’s loss, Louisville is 16-3 in its last 19 games. The three losses are by a combined eight points. Louisville’s last double-digit loss was Nov. 10, 2012, a 45-26 defeat at Syracuse.
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