LOUISVILLE — Louisville defensive end Earl Heyman remembers last year's game against Middle Tennessee only too well.
The Cardinals won 58-42, but their inability to stop the Blue Raiders from rolling up 555 yards was a troubling sign of things to come as U of L finished a disappointing 6-6.
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"That game was crazy," said Heyman, a former star at Ballard. "They ran up and down the field last year."
The rematch is Saturday, and the Cardinals (3-2) know they can't afford to take the Blue Raiders (2-4) lightly.
Louisville is coming off a 35-28 win over Memphis last Friday that might be a head-scratcher to anyone who saw only the final statistics.
The Cards were outgained by the Tigers 481-299 in total offense and ran just 55 offensive plays to Memphis' 86 but won thanks to three returns (kickoff, blocked field goal and fumble recovery) for touchdowns.
"Offensively I didn't think we were as sharp as we needed to be," Louisville Coach Steve Kragthorpe said. "We've got to continue to sustain drives and move the chains. ... We were on the field too long, they played 80-some snaps, and gave up almost 500 yards of total offense."
Sounds eerily similar to last year's Middle Tennessee game. Louisville won thanks to five touchdown passes by Brian Brohm and 275 rushing yards by Anthony Allen that offset Phillip Tanner's 144 rushing yards and Joe Craddock's 290 passing yards.
Tanner and Craddock are back for the Raiders, who are coming off a loss at Florida International.
Middle has had its up and downs, losing its season-opener to Troy, then beating Maryland 24-14 before coming up a yard short in a 20-14 loss at Kentucky.
"They've won some big games and lost a few very close games," Krag thorpe said.
It's a lesson the Cardinals can learn just by watching tape from last year.
"It makes you want to prepare like crazy," Heyman said. "This week is all about getting the guys together, getting the game plan and preparing. And the main thing this week is getting back to the fundamentals."