It was the game that would not end.
The No. 23 Louisville (4-2, 9-2) football team simply could not get off the field last Saturday, dropping a 23-20 triple overtime loss to Connecticut; the second straight loss for the Cardinals.
But going into this Thursday's final game of the season against No. 25 Rutgers, a game Louisville has to win if they want to keep their BCS bowl hopes alive, the Cardinals are feeling anything but a lack of confidence.
"You always want to talk about confidence, because when you go on the road, it's a confidence thing," Louisville coach Charlie Strong said. "You have to walk in there knowing that you are going to win the football game. Confidence isn't shaken right now."
The big question for the Cardinals going into the mid-week matchup is the overall health of their starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
The sophomore suffered a broken left wrist - his non-throwing hand - in Saturday's overtime loss and while the injury obviously won't affect the way he throws the ball, the Cardinals are still going to have to make some offensive adjustments.
The short practice schedule also makes recovery time difficult, forcing Bridgewater and the Cardinals offense into a very limited group of options.
"He cannot go underneath center and take a snap," Strong said. "Everything is from the shotgun, so he can catch the snap. The thing we have to do is protect Teddy."
Of course, Bridgewater's injury opens a brand-new avenue of options for the Scarlet Knights defense; a squad that has been the crux of Rutgers' nationally ranked success all season.
"I think as you get into the game, if you find he's a little less mobile, probably means they won't run him as much, and possibly your play calling could change a little bit defensively," Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said of the injured quarterback.
After giving up the most points in a single game all season in last week's loss to Pittsburgh, the Rutgers defense is almost certainly going to be gunning for the Cardinals.
And Louisville knows it.
"If you watch them, they bring a lot of pressure," Strong said. "(Khaseem) Greene is probably one of the best defensive players in the conference. They like to pressure you a lot."
In a game that both teams need to win if they want to keep their bowl hopes alive, hopes that would be record-making for both programs, the Scarlet Knights and the Cardinals are going to have to move past the losses and the injuries and find the confidence that has led them both all season long.
|Senorise Perry||136||705||5.2||59 (TD)||11|
|DeVante Parker||35||683||19.5||75 (TD)||8|
|Eli Rogers||38||387||10.2||44 (TD)||4|