Saturday, Sep 26, 2009, 4:30 PM PDT
TV: CBS College Sports
Utah (2-1) is facing a situation that they have not faced in nearly 2 years: rebounding after a loss. Utah's magical 16 game winning streak came to a close last Saturday when they lost to the Oregon Ducks 31-24. They must now put that behind them as they prepare to face the Louisville Cardinals (1-1) Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Utah's homecoming opponent in Louisville is no gimme. They are also coming off a difficult loss to rival Kentucky where they lost by 4 on the road in a game that they should have won. They won their opening game 30-10 against Indiana State. They are coached by Steve Kragthrope, one of Kyle Whittingham's childhood friends. As a head coach Kragthrope is 0-2 against the Utes. Kragthorpe, who many say is on the hot seat, is trying to turn this Louisville program around and a loss to Utah would put them at a losing record.
This game is important for the Mountain West's claim that they deserve an automatic bid to the BCS. Louisville is from the Big East, the conference that is the weakest of the 6 BCS conferences. For the Mountain West to gain AQ status, they must outplay one of the 6 BCS conferences over a 4 year period. That conference is likely the Big East. If Utah wins this should only fuel the fire that the Mountain West is more deserving of the Big East of an automatic bid. If they lose, this will critically hurt the Mountain West's claim that they have been making since Utah beat Alabama 31-17.
Louisville has a very good sophomore running back in Victor Anderson. He has already rushed for 203 yards and 3 touchdowns in his two games that he has played this season. Utah has struggled against the run this season allowing Oregon to rush for 217 yards, and Utah State rushing for 221 yards. They must make adjustments or Anderson will give them trouble in this game.
Many expect this to be a breakout game for Terrance Cain. Now with three games experience Cain should feel much more comfortable at home facing a down Big East team. Kyle Whittingham expects Cain to rebound after the poor performance against Oregon.
"Terrance like the entire offense has to rebound. He didn't play particularly well on Saturday; his numbers were very average due to a lot of factors, not just him. Everyone has to get better. My guess is he'll rebound and respond."
The last time these two teams met was back in 2007 when the Utes handed Louisville an embarrassing 44-35 loss at home on national TV. All time Utah leads the series 3-0. Utah is a 14 point favorite in this game and has never lost to a Big East team.
Matt Asiata is expected to play in this game, although he is still not 100 percent back from his shoulder injury. Look for the Utes to come out of the game hungry and with a chip on their shoulders. Relieved from the pressure of the winning streak and top 25 ranking expect Utah to come out and play Utah football to wrap up their non conference schedule.