<
>

Louisville tries to guard against letdown

This is not the first time Louisville is coming off a big win this season.

Earlier in the year, the Cardinals beat Kentucky 24-17 to break a four-game losing streak to their in-state rivals. They promptly followed the victory up with a loss to Marshall at home. In fact, they lost three straight after the win over Kentucky. But Charlie Strong has coached his players out of their tailspin and now Louisville is making some serious noise in the Big East race.

The Cardinals are coming off a momentum-building 38-35 win over West Virginia, breaking a four-game losing streak to the Mountaineers. Strong said, "For our football team to go in their stadium to play as well as they played it was unbelievable." So unbelievable, Strong got into the celebration in the postgame locker room and body surfed among his players.

But now he will see whether his players have learned any lessons from the way they responded after the Kentucky game. Louisville hosts Pitt on Saturday in its final home game of the season, a chance to not only become bowl eligible but to keep pace with Cincinnati atop the standings.

Strong has hammered home his "no letdown" message since the three-game winning streak started against Rutgers.

"He mentions it every day," quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said. "He just says, 'Remember what happened the last time we came off the big win.'"

Louisville is a different team today than it was after the win over Kentucky. Its young players are slowly growing up, the offensive line is playing better and the run game is more consistent. That has not put as much pressure on the defense to make things happen. But the Cardinals will be facing a Pitt team desperate to become bowl eligible, one that continues to fight through a tough season.

Plus, the Panthers have won the last three meetings between the two schools. But if this season is any indication, Louisville has no problem busting streaks. Can it bust another one following its biggest win yet?