Louisville Cardinals vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights Point Spread – Pick Against the Spread

No. 20 Louisville Cardinals (9-2 SU, 4-7 ATS) vs. No. 18 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (9-2 SU, 7-4 ATS)
College Football Week 14
Date/Time: Thursday November 29th, 2012. 7:30PM Eastern
Where: High Point Solutions Stadium Piscataway, N.J.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com

Point Spread: Lou +2/RUT -2
Over/Under Total: 43

The Big East Championship will be decided this Thursday night when the no. 20 Louisville Cardinals invade Piscataway to battle the no. 18 Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Actually, the Big East title was partially decided last week thanks to a 23-20 triple overtime loss for Louisville against Connecticut. That loss ensured Rutgers at least a share of the Big East crown with just 1 conference loss on the season. However, Louisville could shake things up and possibly create a 4 way share of the Big East title with a win over Rutgers this Thursday night.

Perhaps more importantly, this game carries major BCS significance. If the Cardinals pull out the win and create a tie on top of the Big East standings, then the highest ranked team in the BCS standings captures the automatic BCS Bowl bid. Since both Louisville and Rutgers are already the two highest ranked teams in the conference, each team knows that a BCS Bowl berth awaits the winner this Thursday.

Just a few weeks ago, the Cardinals were overwhelming favorites to not only win the Big East but possibly capture their first undefeated season in school history. Louisville posted a 9-0 mark following the first week in November but suffered back to back losses against Syracuse and last week to Connecticut. Now the Cardinals are on the outside looking in as they attempt to snap their losing skid. Last week Charlie Strong’s defense held Connecticut to just 241 total yards despite the 23-20 triple overtime loss. The Cardinals defense has been solid all season holding opponents to just 345 total yards per game (26th in FBS).

However the Louisville offense will have to find ways to manufacture some points this week as they were unable to do against the Huskies. Louisville statistically has a rather average offense averaging 434 total yards per game (44th in FBS). The Cardinals offensive success relies heavily on the arm of sophomore QB Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater has been impressive this year hitting 68% passing for 3,189 yards with 23 touchdowns and just 6 picks. Last week Bridgewater suffered a fracture wrist to his non-throwing hand in the loss to Connecticut. Bridgewater will play this Thursday night and it will be interesting to see if that injury affects his performance. It is safe to say that Bridgewater is the primary weapon for the Cardinals offense and they will need him to play well against a strong Rutgers defense this Thursday to have a shot at the win.

For Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights will try to shake off a 27-6 loss to Pittsburgh last week. The Scarlet Knights’ offense gained just 207 total yards against the Panthers in what was their worse performance of the season. Rutgers has not been strong offensively this season averaging just 341 yards (99th in FBS) and 22 points (93rd in FBS) per game. Still, Rutgers could not do anything against the Pittsburgh defense last week which causes concerns going against an even tougher Louisville defense especially on a short week this Thursday.

Typically the Scarlet Knights like to control tempo by flexing their muscles in the running game and playing outstanding defense. The Rutgers defense has given up just 314 yards per game this season which ranks 14th in college football. I believe Rutgers will match up well again this Thursday against Louisville’s offense and keep scoring relatively low. Still, the Scarlet Knights must get running back Jawan Jamison going to avoid another dismal offensive performance. Jamison has already eclipsed the 1,000 yard barrier this season and he is a tough runner between the tackles. Therefore it will be interesting to see if Jamison can keep the chains moving and help control tempo for the Scarlet Knights’ offense this Thursday night.

Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I consider this a rather easy play on the under 43. Bridgewater is banged up and Rutgers has lingering offensive concerns. Both teams will try to run the ball and win the field position battle to help their offense. This game may be boring for some but it will be a low scoring grudge match in the trenches. Take the under 43!

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