Ohio-Louisville Preview Capsule
Ohio at No. 9 Louisville, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Line: Louisville by 21
Series record: Tied 2-2.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Ohio seeks its fourth consecutive season-opening victory and second straight upset of a BCS automatic qualifying conference school after winning at Penn State 24-14 last year. Louisville looks to live up to its highest preseason ranking and maintain momentum from an 11-2 season and Sugar Bowl victory by winning its seventh consecutive nonconference game.
Ohio’s secondary against Louisville’s receivers. Bobcats projected starting cornerbacks Jamil Shaw and Travis Carrie will have their hands full with the Cardinals’ No. 24 passing offense that averaged 296.1 yards per game last season and returns speedy wideouts DeVante Parker, Damian Copeland and Eli Rogers. The Cardinals also have talented a crop of underclassmen and tight end Ryan Hubbell as options.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Ohio: RB Beau Blankenship and QB Tyler Tettleton form a strong 1-2 offensive combination for the Bobcats. Blankenship is on watch lists for the Maxwell and Doak Campbell awards after rushing for a school-record 1,604 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. Tettleton threw for 2,844 yards and 18 TDs with just four interceptions.
Louisville: QB Teddy Bridgewater has great chemistry with Parker and Copeland, who combined for 1,372 yards and 12 TDs in 2012. Bridgewater has emerged as a possible Heisman Trophy candidate following a breakout season in which he completed 68.5% of his passes for 3,718 passing yards and 27 touchdowns.
FACTS & FIGURES
The teams last met in 1959 with Ohio winning 22-15 in Louisville. ... Ohio returns 16 starters from a team coming off its second straight bowl win and favored to repeat as Mid-American Conference East division champions. ... Bobcats coach Frank Solich seeks his 60th win at the school. ... Since losing Charlie Strong’s debut as Louisville coach, the Cardinals have won the past two season openers. ... Louisville returns 19 starters including 12 on defense. ... Louisville begins the season as favorites to win the new American Athletic Conference, formerly the Big East.