(AP) -- Louisville and Rutgers are bowl-eligible, but don't know where
they fit in the postseason picture.
The No. 23 Cardinals (6-2, 2-2 Big East) host the Scarlet
Knights (6-3, 3-2) Friday night at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in
a game that should play a key role in determining the bowl
destination -- if any -- of the two teams.
Louisville entered its first season in the Big East with dreams
of playing in a Bowl Championship Series game, but losses to South
Florida and league leader West Virginia ended those aspirations.
Now the Cardinals -- who have won their last 10 home games, the
fifth-longest such streak in NCAA Division I-A -- would like to
finish as high as possible in the league and earn a berth in the
Rutgers, which has broken a streak of 10 straight losing
seasons, hasn't played in a bowl game since 1978 -- when the Scarlet
Knights appeared in the Garden State Bowl -- and just wants to make
sure it is included somewhere. After the Gator Bowl, the Big East's
other agreements are with the Insight Bowl and the Meineke Car Care
"Right now, with where we are with this program ... we still
have a lot of things that are out there on the table for us,"
Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said."One of them is to secure a bowl
bid and play good football."
There are numerous similarities between the teams.
Both have strong offenses, ranking 1-2 in the conference:
Louisville averages 495.8 yards per game, the Scarlet Knights 385.8
yards. Both had a disappointing loss to South Florida, a team
they're now chasing in the league standings. Both have one of the
nation's best defensive ends: Elvis Dumervil for Louisville, Ryan
Neill for Rutgers.
Both also could be without key players. Louisville running back
Michael Bush, who is second in Division I-A with 21 touchdowns,
sprained his right foot last Thursday in a 42-20 win over
Pittsburgh and did not practice all week.
Bush's availability will be a game-time decision, team spokesman
Rocco Gasparro said Thursday. Kolby Smith, who returned last week
from a knee injury, would replace Bush as the feature back.
Rutgers senior quarterback Ryan Hart, who has an injured right
shoulder, won't start. Redshirt freshman Mike Teel, who started two
games last month before injuring his throwing shoulder, will get
the nod instead, although Hart likely will be available.
Whomever is playing quarterback for the Scarlet Knights will be
aware of Dumervil, who has 20 sacks this season, four shy of the
Division I-A record set by Terrell Suggs of Arizona State in 2002.
Dumervil forced his ninth fumble of the season in the win over
Pittsburgh, breaking the Division I-A mark set in 2001 by Dwight
Freeney of Syracuse. (The NCAA began keeping defensive records in
Dumervil also leads the nation in tackles for a loss, averaging
almost 2.7 per game. Neill is third nationally in that category at
2.00 per game. They are two of six finalists for the Ted Hendricks
Defensive End of the Year Award.
Rutgers is seeking its third straight Big East road win. The
Scarlet Knights had never won consecutive Big East road games until
this season, when they won at both Syracuse and Connecticut.
Rutgers is 4-0 all-time against Louisville -- all the games were
played between 1976 and 1986 -- but the Scarlet Knights haven't
beaten a ranked foe since Sept. 24, 1988, when they upset Penn
Top 25 Overview
Who would have thought in August that it would be Louisville chasing Rutgers in the Big East. More bad news for the Cardinals? Rutgers has won all four games between the two schools. Scouts, Inc.: Matchups to watch