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October 15, 2013
Louisville will battle Central Florida Friday night in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Here are five things every Louisville fan needs to know about the big game.
1. THIS COULD DECIDE A BCS GAME
Sure, Houston is undefeated at 5-0, but Friday night's matchup between Louisville and UCF will likely decide the American Athletic Conference title. As such, the winner of this game is in the driver's seat for a trip to a BCS bowl as the AAC's automatic qualifier.
Louisville, the Big East's automatic qualifier last season, beat then-No. 3 Florida in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The Cardinals would like to make a return trip to the BCS, but UCF is standing in their way.
The Knights haven't played since beating Memphis on Oct. 5. They will have prepared for Louisville for 13 days by the time kickoff comes Friday night.
2. IT'S A RED OUT
Spread the word. Louisville would like all fans to wear red for national television Friday night. It is the 100th game in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium history.
Louisville-UCF is the 8 p.m. game on ESPN that night. Fans are asked to get in their seats by 7:45 so the crowd looks full when the broadcast begins at 8.
3. UCF IS GOOD
The Knights are 4-1 overall, 1-0 in the conference and are one of three AAC teams receiving votes in both major polls, the others being No. 6/8 Louisville and unranked Rutgers.
The Knights are a good, solid team that is remarkably similar to Louisville. They boast an extremely efficient quarterback in Blake Bortles, and a hard-hitting, fast-moving defense.
UCF is No. 11 in the nation in scoring defense, and No. 6 in the nation in turnover margin. They've played a tougher schedule than the Cardinals, and have a win over Penn State and a tough loss to South Carolina on their resume.
UCF's offense totaled more than 500 yards against Penn State, and Bortles passed for 358 yards against South Carolina.
The last time the two programs met was in 1985 when UCF was a Division II program. The Cardinals won 42-21.
UCF is a world different than back then as a school and a program. The school is massive, with nearly 60,000 students enrolled, and the athletic program is competitive in nearly everything.
Since George O'Leary took over in 2004, UCF has three 10-win seasons, won two conference titles, four conference division titles, eight conference players of the year and two bowl wins in a row (2010 and 2012).
4. DON'T LET IT BE CLOSE
UCF has a lot of good players, but kicker Shawn Moffitt is really good. He started the 2012 8-for-8 on field goals before finishing 10-of-14, and he started this season 6-for-6.
Moffitt has connected on 91 of 96 PATs during his career and is solid anywhere inside the 40. If this game comes down to a field goal, Moffitt is likely good for it. His long this season is 49 yards.
Louisville's kicker, John Wallace, is good, too. He is 10 of 13 on field goals and 27 of 28 on PATs so far this season, but the Cardinals have had two field goals and an extra point blocked this season.
5. IT IS PERSONAL
Even though these teams have never met on the field, for many players in this game, it will be personal. Louisville and UCF have gone head-to-head in recruiting battles against O'Leary and the Knights. Louisville has won some of those battles (Teddy Bridgewater and Eli Rogers being the most notable), and UCF has won some (linemen Jordan and Justin McCray and Torrian Wilson).
There will be six players in the game from Miami's Northwestern High (Bridgewater, Rogers, Wilson, Corvin Lamb, Jermaine Reve and Michaelee Harris).
There will be six players from Miami's Central High (Louisville's John Miller and Charles Gaines and UCF's Jeff Godfrey, Miles Pace, Jamar McClain and Josh Reese).
There will be five players from First Coast High (Louisville's De'Asian Richardson and UCF's Jared Henry, Seyvon Lowry, D.J. Killings and Chris Johnson).
There will be four players from Miami's Southridge High (Louisville's Gerod Holliman and Andrew Johnson and UCF's McCray brothers).
Both schools have also pulled talent from Tampa Bay Tech and Seminole Ridge.
Beyond all the teammates squaring off, think of all the high school rivals who will be on opposite sides of the field Friday night.
Louisville as 39 players on roster from Florida, and there are certainly players on UCF's roster that feel slighted they weren't offered by the Cardinals.