Sunday, August 31, 2014
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Sunday college football: Ohio-Louisville leads the way

Louisville's season is already off to a rocky start, and the Cardinals haven't even played yet. Can Teddy Bridgewater and company impress to make up for their damaged conference? Colorado vs. Colorado State and Bethune-Cookman vs. Tennessee State kick off later.

The Louisville Cardinals will open their season by hosting the Ohio Bobcats and, just like every week this season, their postseason fate will be on the line.

The Cards are a preseason top 10 team after being propelled by their huge Sugar Bowl win over Florida. They have justifiable national title aspirations, but their weak schedule means they have zero margin for error. A flat game against anyone could spell doom, but it's hard to believe Charlie Strong will let his team come out unprepared to play.

The Cardinals are big favorites over Ohio, but Frank Solich's Bobcats are not a team to take lightly. They've consistently been one of the MAC's better teams over the past several years and have the ability to sneak up and bite a big-time team if they aren't prepared. With only 14 starters returning form last year's team, however, that's probably going to be easier said than done early in the season.

The numbers

Rankings and records: Louisville enters the season ranked ninth in both the AP Top 25 and USA Today Poll, while Ohio is unranked in both. These two programs have never met before, despite being located in adjacent states.

Vegas: The Cards are favored by three touchdowns, according to oddsshark.com. The over/under is sitting at 58.

Weather: Mostly sunny with a high in the upper 80s. Stay hydrated, everyone.

Three names to know

Teddy Bridgewater. As Teddy goes, so go the Cards. Bridgewater blossomed in front of our eyes last year, completing over 68 percent of his passes and throwing for 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Above and beyond his production, though, was the toughness and leadership he showed while playing through injuries.

Tyler Tettleton. It feels like Tettleton has been around forever, but 2013 will be his third year as the starting quarterback in Athens. He did it all for the Bobcats last year, completing over 62 percent of his passes and throwing for 18 touchdowns compared to only four interceptions. He also rushed for four scores and even caught a touchdown pass to boot. If he's on point, the Bobcats have a chance to keep this game interesting.

Lorenzo Mauldin. The Cardinals didn't have a prodigious pass rush in 2012, but if anyone can break out and be a disruptive force in that front seven, it's Mauldin. He led the team in sacks last year, was second in tackles for a loss, and he's only entering his junior season

Two things at stake

Louisville's national title hopes. The Cardinals will have to run the table and hope for some help if they want to play for a national title, so every single game is critical. With their schedule as weak as it is, a single loss will remove them from the conversation completely. That's a lot of pressure, but it's reality. Even if they do go undefeated, there's no guarantee they'll have a shot at the title.

Teddy's Heisman campaign. Heisman campaigns aren't made or broken in one game, but Bridgewater can put himself in the proverbial driver's seat with a big game against a pretty good Ohio team. He's in a good position in that he's a name everyone knows, now he just needs to start putting up some video game numbers.

How to witness

TV: This game will be shown live nationally at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Radio: Lousville radio affiliates - Ohio radio affiliates

Online streaming: This game will be available for streaming on WatchESPN.

Further reading

For more on Louisville, check out Card Chronicle.

For more on Ohio and the rest of the MAC, head over to Hustle Belt.

More from SB Nation:

4,000 words each about 125 college football teams: The Bill C. preview series

Alabama vs. Oregon and all 34 other bowl game projections

Clowney, Manziel headline SB Nation’s preseason All-America team

Projecting this year’s most fun college football games, according to math

Picking every 2013 college football conference race

Today’s college football news headlines

This article originally appeared on SBNation.

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