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Where: M.M. Roberts Stadium, Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Louisville looks to improve to 5-0 for the first time since 2006 when it visits Southern Mississippi on Saturday. The former Conference USA rivals are meeting for the first time since the 2010 Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl when Louisville posted a 31-28 victory, the Cardinals’ fifth straight win in the series. This is the final non-conference game for the No. 17 Cardinals, who are off next week before beginning Big East Conference play Oct. 13 at Pittsburgh. Louisville, coming off a 28-21 victory over Florida International, will be making its first trip to Hattiesburg since 2002. Southern Mississippi is still seeking its first victory after a 42-17 loss to Western Kentucky last week. The Golden Eagles are off to their first 0-3 start since 1976 and their string of 18 consecutive winning seasons could be in jeopardy. Southern Mississippi concludes its non-conference slate next week at home against Boise State. Louisville, which is only 3-11 all-time in Hattiesburg, has won its last two visits to Southern Mississippi, prevailing 20-17 in double overtime in 2002 and 28-24 in 2000.
ABOUT LOUISVILLE (4-0): In his first four starts, sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has thrown for 1,049 yards and seven touchdowns while completing 73.4 percent of his passes – even after a sub-par performance against Florida International in which he was 19-of-36 for a season-low 194 yards and two touchdowns. Bridgewater ranks 23rd in the FBS in passing efficiency and likes to spread the wealth as nine players have seven or more receptions and six different players have caught touchdowns. Senior Andrell Smith leads the Cardinals with 14 receptions for 189 yards and one score, and junior Damian Copeland is second with 13 catches for 150 yards. On the ground, juniors Jeremy Wright and Senorise Perry share the load. Wright has a team-high 66 carries for 305 yards while Perry is the Cardinals’ top rusher with 340 yards on 62 carries. Louisville has featured a big-play offense early in the season with 16 snaps results in gains of 20 or more yards.
ABOUT SOUTHERN MISS (0-3): The Golden Eagles rank near the bottom in the FBS in numerous statistical categories, including passing offense (116th of 120), total offense (115th), scoring offense (113th), rushing defense (111th), pass efficiency defense (118th), total defense (104th) and scoring defense (104th). To make matters worse, the Golden Eagles could be forced to use their third quarterback of the season against Louisville as Chris Campbell and freshman Anthony Alford went down with injuries last week. If neither is able to play, the Golden Eagles would be forced to go with freshman Ricky Lloyd. Tracy Lampley has climbed to fourth on the school’s career list for all-purpose yards with 4,037. Lampley is the active leader in the FBS in punt returns with 75. Desmond Johnson is the Golden Eagles’ leader in rushing with only 165 yards 31 carries. Alford has Southern Mississippi’s only two rushing touchdowns. The Eagles are averaging 103 yards per game through the air.
1. The two programs combined to win seven league titles while members of Conference USA from 1996-2005. Louisville won in 2000, 2001 and 2004, while Southern Mississippi prevailed in 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2003.
2. Louisville has only 10 scholarship seniors on its roster, tied with Georgia Tech for ninth-fewest in the FBS. Conversely, the Cardinals have 25 true freshmen and 16 redshirt freshmen.
3. Lampley, who has tallied 1,273 yards in kickoff returns, needs 31 rushing yards, 40 receiving yards and 165 punt return yards to become the first Southern Miss player to surpass 1,000 yards in four offensive categories.