Crystal LoGiudice/USA TODAY Sports
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is Louisville's center of attention entering 2013.With the college basketball season in the books, College Football Live embarks on its Spring Bus Tour, visiting eight schools over two weeks. Today we take a trip to check out the Louisville Cardinals.
Louisville started last season 9-0, with its best win a 34-31 overtime triumph over Cincinnati. The Cardinals lost their next two games, to Syracuse and Connecticut but beat Rutgers to win the Big East (via four-team tiebreaker) and earn a BCS bowl berth.
They validated that with a 33-23 win over No. 3 Florida in the Sugar Bowl.
Looking to 2013, what would it take for the Cardinals to be considered a BCS title contender in the American Athletic Conference?
Louisville returns 12 defensive players who started at least three games last season and though running back Senorise Perry may not return immediately due to a torn ACL, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater returns with some Heisman buzz.
The last Heisman winner from the Big East was Geno Torretta from Miami (FL) in 1992, and the last Big East player invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony was Larry Fitzgerald in 2003.
Louisville fell behind in nine of its 13 games last season, but Bridgewater fared well when his team was trailing, leading the Cardinals to victory in seven of those nine instances.
Bridgewater Passing When Trailing
Bridgewater had a plus-11 touchdown-to-interception differential when trailing, tied for third-best in FBS.
Bridgewater has been even better when trailing late in games, leading the Cardinals to three come-from-behind victories in the fourth quarter or overtime. He completed two-thirds of his passes with five touchdowns and one interception when trailing in the fourth quarter or overtime last season.
Bridgewater also converted 63.6 percent of his third-down passes against Florida in the Sugar Bowl, which was the highest percentage allowed by a Florida defense since the 2009 SEC Championship game.
Third-down efficiency is nothing new for Bridgewater. He converted 50.9 percent of his third-down passes in 2012, the highest percentage in FBS.
In the end, the biggest thing working against Bridgewater and the Cardinals is their schedule in the first year of the American Athletic Conference.
The toughest game on it is at Cincinnati to end the year, and the toughest game in non-conference may end up being at Kentucky.