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Know Thy Foe: Louisville

UCF aims to avenge one of the most devastating losses in recent history

UCF v Louisville
Louisville QB Malik Cunningham
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

We continue previewing all 12 opponents the UCF Knights will face on the gridiron in 2022 with a team that cost UCF much more than one game in last year’s match-up, the Louisville Cardinals.

Week 2: Louisville Cardinals

Kickoff: Friday, September 9th, 7:30 p.m. ET, FBC Mortgage Stadium


Series: Louisville leads 2-1

Last Meeting: 2021 — Louisville won 42-35

Avert your eyes.

Malik Cunningham went nuts (265 yards passing, 99 rushing), and yet UCF looked like they were about to pull off a miracle after tying the game at 35 with 1:21 left on a Dillon Gabriel bootleg, and then getting a clutch turnover courtesy of Tre’mon Morris-Brash with :25 left. But one play later, Jaylin Alderman ran back an interception 66 yards to the house, and on the final play, Gabriel broke his collarbone. He would never play for UCF again.

Gabriel wasn’t alone in the infirmary after this game. Jaylon Robinson, Isaiah Bowser, and Matt Lee all went down with injuries for varying amounts of time after this one.

This deserves a timeline cleanser:

About the Cardinals

This Season: Picked 4th in the ACC Atlantic Division

Last Season: 6-7, 4-4 in the ACC (4th in the Atlantic Division), Lost to Air Force in the First Responder Bowl

The Cards were riding high after the first four games at 3-1, having beaten Florida State in Tallahassee the week after UCF.

But then it all came apart. Two last-second losses to Wake Forest and Virginia by a combined four points started a slide of six losses in their last nine.

Cincinnati’s 2021 Team Stats and Rankings

Category Offense AAC Rank FBS Rank Defense AAC Rank FBS Rank
Category Offense AAC Rank FBS Rank Defense AAC Rank FBS Rank
Rush Yards 173.3 4th 56th 149.1 5th 62nd
Pass Yards 241.2 6th 58th 169.2 1st 2nd
Total Yards 414.5 5th 58th 318.4 2nd 10th
Points 36.4 2nd 13th 16.9 1st 5th

Key Stat: 13.9 yards per completion (18th most in FBS), 13 turnovers lost (T-21st fewest in FBS)

Head Coach: Scott Satterfield

Chick-fil-A Kickoff - Louisville v Ole Miss
Scott Satterfield
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Satterfield enters his fourth season at Louisville after shepherding his alma mater, Appalachian State, from FCS to FBS in 2013 and winning three straight Sun Belt titles from 2016-2018. However, he has failed to match the 8-5 mark he posted in his first season with the Cards, and is 18-19 overall there, and 12-13 in ACC play.

Key Players

#22 Yasir Abdullah — LB

Senior | 6-1, 242 lbs | 2021: 2nd Team All-ACC, 61 tackles, 17.5 TFLs, 10 sacks

Abdullah, a South Florida native, led the Cards in sacks last year and came on late in the season as a pass rusher and havoc-creator. He leads a defense that was highly suspect in the second half of last season.

#3 Malik Cunningham — QB

Senior | 6-1, 190 lbs | 2021: 62%, 2,941 yards passing, 19 TD/6 INT, 1,031 yards rushing, 20 TDs, 6.0 ypc

As we learned first-hand in last season’s match-up, Cunningham’s dual-threat ability has been a problem for UCF historically. Even though Louisville’s season declined after the back-to-back wins against UCF and Florida State, it wasn’t the fault of Cunningham and the offense. He is also one of the most experienced QBs in the nation, entering his fourth (!) year as the starter.

Other Stuff To Know

  • Louisville hasn’t won a conference title since 2012 under Charlie Strong
  • UCF first played Louisville in 1985, a 42-21 loss in Kentucky. It was the first season for both Howard Schnellenberger at Louisville and Gene McDowell at UCF. The Cardinals went 2-9 that year, while UCF, then a Division II team, went 4-7. Schnellenberger would leave Louisville in 1995 to coach Oklahoma for just one season, and then returned to coaching to start FAU’s program in 2001. He would stay in Boca until 2011, and passed away last March.
  • This is Louisville’s first ever trip to Orlando. All three prior match-ups were in Kentucky.
  • UCF is 4-12 vs. ACC teams all time, but 3-3 since 2011, and the Knights have won their last two home games vs. ACC teams (2-2 at home overall vs. ACC). The wins are at NC State (2007), home vs. Boston College (2011), home vs. Pitt (2018) and at Georgia Tech (2020).

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