Inside the Top 25

Originally Published: October 21, 2004
Scouts Inc.
While 24 out of the Top 25 teams take the field this week, only two games feature ranked teams facing each other – No. 9 Texas faces No. 24 Texas Tech in a Big 12 South elimination game, and No. 12 Purdue travels to No. 11 Michigan.

Our scouts have complete breakdowns on those two, plus No. 3 Miami at North Carolina State, plus these takes on every other Top 25 game:

Friday, Oct. 22

Louisville, Ky.
7:30 p.m. ET - ESPN
When South Florida has the ball: The Bulls will operate out of the shotgun and use a no-huddle attack to keep the Cardinals off balance, but the team's strength remains RB Andre Hall (82 carries, 473 yards, seven TDs). He runs behind an experienced and talented offensive line and is complemented nicely by backup RB Clenton Crossley. Hall has more speed than Crossley and is the big-play threat of the two, but Crossley's ability to shoulder a heavy load has allowed South Florida to keep both backs fresh. The Bulls will need to be able to run the ball and control the clock this week. With Louisville scoring 42.2 points per game, USF must sustain long drives and keep QB Stefan LeFors and the Cardinals' potentially explosive attack off the field. However, Louisville has been stout against the run (90.4 yards per game), and without a passing game to balance things out, South Florida's running game will have some trouble. QB Pat Julmiste has struggled with accuracy, completing just 48.6-percent of his passes, and has thrown more interceptions (5) than touchdowns (3). As a result, the Cardinals can load up to stop the run without being at a disadvantage in coverage.
When Louisville has the ball: The Cardinals showed just how explosive they can be against a top-shelf defense, running up 507 yards and 38 points in last weekend's loss to Miami. LeFors is the point-man in coordinator Paul Petrino's spread attack, and his ability to make quick decisions is a big reason Louisville is 4-1. However, LeFors (75.6 percent, one INT) suffered a concussion against Miami and is listed as questionable. If he can't play, freshman Brian Brohm would step in. Brohm is inexperienced, but he played well in relief last week and has the size and arm strength to be successful in this scheme. The running game helps provide balance, and although there isn't a true feature back, the Cardinals get solid production from RBs Eric Shelton, Michael Bush and Lionel Gates.
Bottom line: When Louisville runs the ball effectively, avoids turnovers and protects the quarterback, it is the best team in Conference-USA. The big question for the Cardinals is whether LeFors will be ready to go. However, even with Brohm at the helm Louisville is talented enough to win this game. On the flip side, South Florida lacks speed at receiver and consistency at quarterback, and without much of a passing game, Hall and Crossley will be faced with a steady diet of eight-man fronts. Look for Louisville to rebound from its heartbreaking loss to Miami with a convincing win over the struggling Bulls.
Prediction: Louisville 37, South Florida 23