RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Here's how bad it has become for Louisville: Even North Carolina State is looking forward to an easy day against the Cardinals.
``We're capable of putting up points and moving the ball,'' receiver Darrell Blackman said Monday.
So has nearly everyone else who plays the Cardinals. Their high-powered offense led by Brian Brohm has been neutralized by a defense that allows huge chunks of yards and cost them a Top 10 ranking, after a loss to a previously hopeless-looking Syracuse.
Now the Wolfpack hope to become the latest to get things rolling against them.
``With a team that scores a lot but on the other end, they give up a lot of yards and points, that's kind of eye-opening,'' Blackman said. ``You wouldn't expect a team that moves the ball as well as they do and puts points on the board to give up that many points as well on the other end.''
N.C. State (1-3) hopes to continue several trends that have the Cardinals' defenders in disarray. In three games against Bowl Subdivision teams, Louisville (2-2) has allowed at least one touchdown pass of more than 50 yards in each and given up a total of 988 yards through the air.
The Cardinals are having trouble replacing three starters from a year ago, and it shows. After allowing 465 total yards in a 38-35 loss to Syracuse, they fell to 90th nationally in total defense and 104th against the pass.
``They've done some juggling around back there the last couple of weeks. Syracuse fooled them a couple of times and got some deep balls,'' N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien said. ``I'm sure they'll solve those problems. You can't give up the deep passes they've been giving up.''
So far those answers haven't surfaced, and that encourages an N.C. State offense that earlier this season led the Atlantic Coast Conference in passing and now averages about 220 yards per game, but hasn't beaten a Bowl Subdivision team since last October.
The Wolfpack's longest play of this season is a 49-yard pass from Harrison Beck to Blackman three weeks ago at Boston College.
``We've thrown the ball deep every game,'' O'Brien said. ``That isn't going to go out of our offense, and they know we're going to take shots. We've taken shots down the field, and you still have to defend it.''
That's been the game plan for Louisville's three previous opponents, who engaged the Cardinals in shootouts and exposed problems in their defense.
Middle Tennessee State had three scoring plays of at least 35 yards and hung closer than expected. Instate rival Kentucky hit a game-winning 57-yard touchdown pass in the final minute to knock Louisville out of the Top 10.
Then, the long-suffering Orange connected on a 79-yard TD toss on their first play from scrimmage - a play eerily similar to Kentucky's game-winner - and held on to give the Cardinals their second straight loss and send them tumbling from the national rankings.
``They're probably upset and are going to come in here to make a statement,'' O'Brien said. ``But then, we ought to feel the same way. ... Maybe they'll still be confused. Who knows? Play it on Saturday, we'll find out at 3:30.''
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