Louisville title run could be in the Cards now

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:32 AM ET

Suddenly, all the Cards are in Louisville's hands, so to speak.

No matter how hard certain segments of the nation (yes, we mean you, Southeastern Conference) try to discredit the suddenly surging Redbirds.

But the numbers are there for all to read -- and weep, if you're a one-loss team hoping to leap into a shot at the Jan. 8 BCS national championship game in Glendale, Ariz.

With their impressive whipping of West Virginia last Thursday, Louisville vaulted to the No. 3 position in the two human polls that count in the BCS rankings. And with the Cardinals also getting a whole lot of computer love (No. 3 there, too), they're clearly in the driver's seat in the race to see who plays Ohio State or Michigan for all the marbles.

In fact, Louisville's margin in the computers is so wide that even one slightly unimpressive win won't be enough to allow Florida -- or anyone else in the chasing pack, for that matter -- to make it up over the final four weeks of the season.

So for Louisville, the strategy is simple the rest of the way: Just win, baby.

All of which puts the spotlight squarely on the Big East again this week, with the Cardinals facing an unbeaten conference foe for the second straight Thursday. And this one, against the most unlikeliest of opponents -- 8-0 Rutgers, which gets home field for arguably the biggest football game in the state university of New Jersey's history.

Another Louisville win tonight, and the door will be just about shut on Florida, Texas, Auburn and the rest.

Then let the howls of protest about the system really begin.

The picks for Week 11 (odds supplied by Sportsbook.com):

GAME OF THE WEEK

No. 3 Louisville (-61/2) at No. 15 Rutgers (Tonight, 7:30 p.m, Rogers NCAA) -- The Scarlet Knights are a lot of folks' favourite team this week, given the Cardinals' new hold on a BCS title game berth. West Virginia was able to run on Louisville's defence last week and that happens to be Rutgers' main offensive calling card. But in the matchup of QBs, Louisville's Brian Brohm wins hands down. PICK: LOUISVILLE.

NEXT BEST THINGS

No. 13 Tennessee (+51/2) at No. 11 Arkansas (Saturday, 7 p.m., Rogers NCAA) -- It's this simple. If the Volunteers can't stop Darren McFadden and Co. from running Hog wild, they can't win. Both teams have QB issues, with Tennessee's Erik Ainge still banged up and Arkansas having dumped starter Mitch Mustain a week ago. But based on our first thought about this key SEC game ... PICK: ARKANSAS.

No. 21 Oregon (+8) at No. 7 USC (Saturday, 10:15 p.m.) -- In the wake of that Oregon State shocker, an angry bunch of Trojans put the wood to woeful Stanford last week. And with the Ducks and QB Dennis Dixon doing a late-season fade, expect the USC roll to continue before Cal and Notre Dame come calling the next two weeks. PICK: USC.

South Carolina (+131/2) at No. 6 Florida (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., CBS) -- Steve Spurrier returns to Gainesville, but there's no way the Ol' Ball Coach can pick off his former school two years in a row, can he? The Florida defence rules here, but Spurrier will find a way to keep it interesting. PICK: SOUTH CAROLINA.

QUICK PICKS

(STRAIGHT-UP SELECTIONS IN BOLD)

TONIGHT

Wyoming (+19) over No. 25 Brigham Young

SATURDAY

No. 1 Ohio State (-23) over Northwestern

Indiana (+19) over No. 2 Michigan

No. 4 Texas (-17) over Kansas State

No. 5 Auburn (-121/2) over Georgia

Arizona (+14) over No. 8 California

No. 9 Notre Dame (-111/2) over Air Force

Cincinnati (+181/2) over No. 10 West Virginia

Alabama (+181/2) over No. 12 LSU

San Jose State (+14) over No. 14 Boise State

No. 16 Wisconsin (NL) over Iowa

Texas Tech (+81/2) over No. 17 Oklahoma

Florida State (+81/2) over No. 18 Wake Forest

No. 19 Georgia Tech

(-131/2) over North Carolina

No. 20 Virginia Tech

(-281/2) over Kent State

No. 22 Boston College

(-28) over Duke

No. 23 Maryland (-21/2) over Miami (Fla.)

No. 24 Texas A&M (+1) over Nebraska

Last week -- 14-5 straight up; 8-11 ATS.

Season record -- 173-27 straight up; 96-93-3 ATS.

Best bet -- USC (6-4).


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