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Rutgers vs. Louisville Friday Night Football Pick with Analysis

10/21/11

The surprising 5-1 Rutgers Scarlet Knights hit the road Friday night to take on Big East opponent Louisville, 0-1 in conference and 2-4 on the year and certainly in need of a win. The opening line on this game was Rutgers -1.5 but has since moved to Louisville -1, early Monday morning as bettors apparently feel the clock is about to strike 12 for Cinderella.

For Louisville, it wasn't that long ago that this team was known as an offensive juggernaut able to sling it out with anyone. These days, it's the defense that stands out with the offense about as inept as it could be. The Cardinal defense though, deserves recognition. They have bottled up most teams they have faced this year and held the powerful Cincinnati offense in check most of the way last week. It was a 16-14 Louisville lead after 3 quarters with Cinci doing the only scoring in the 4th quarter on their way to a 25-16 win.

Rutgers has a pretty good offense as well and the problem here for Louisville would seem to be that Rutgers also has a very good defense. In fact, they rank higher than Louisville in total defense. We mentioned Louisville's inept offense, they are without a touchdown in 10 straight quarters. They have a rookie QB and they fired their offensive coordinator and replaced him with the QB coach who is inexperienced in this roll. Doesn't seem as though their offensive problems can be rectified in one weeks time.

These stats are magnified when you take a look at the yards per point numbers. Rutgers comes in with one of the best offensive numbers in the country at 11 and a very nice 19 on defense. Remember, the higher the number the better on defense. The lower the better on offense. Louisville comes in with one of the worst offensive numbers out there, close to 21, while they have a respectable number of close to 17 defensively. With schedule strength being close to even, the yards per point line here would have Rutgers favored by double digits.

If you were to back Louisville here, you'd be doing so by simply guessing that this is the week, for some reason, that they get everything together and give a stellar performance on both sides of the ball. We'd prefer not to guess and instead will go with the proven commodity. Rutgers has a defense every bit as good as Louisville's and an offense several notches better despite a possible QB controversy brewing between Chas Dodd and Gary Nova.

Lastly, note that Rutgers held Navy to a season low 162 yards rushing last week. In their other 5 games, Navy had 391, 410, 274, 334 and 421. Also note Rutgers among the best in turnover margin.

It seems too easy, and those are always the scariest games to play. But no other way to look here than Rutgers as they are the better, more balanced team and whether they are making their own breaks, or catching a few, fact remains the breaks are going their way. Rutgers +2

** Also note - no total posted yet as this is being written early Monday, however, our model predicts a 19-11 Rutgers win, so under whatever total they do post may be worth a look.

****Revenge game for Rutgers who was blown out at home last year 40-13

 

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