STORRS, Conn. (AP) -- Louisville was expected to cruise into Connecticut Friday night in contention for a national championship and ready to beat up on a team picked by many to be the doormat of the Big East.
The Cardinals (4-3, 1-1 Big East) instead find themselves at midseason looking up in the standings at the Huskies (5-1, 1-0), whose only loss came when Virginia kicked a field goal in the closing minutes of a 17-16 victory last Saturday in a nonconference game.
The matchup of Louisville's high-powered offense and Connecticut's stingy defense could put one of the teams in position to challenge for the conference title.
Connecticut has given up just 12 points per game and is ranked sixth in the nation in total defense, holding opponents to an average of 264 yards, including just 98 through the air.
"I don't think there is any question that to date this is the best defense that we will have played," said Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe.
There is also no question that this will be the best offense the Huskies have seen.
Louisville, which was ranked as high as No. 8, before losses to Kentucky, Syracuse and Utah, has put up almost 560 yards per game, including 398 yards through the air.
While the Huskies will be trying to rebound from a loss, the Cardinals are coming off their most impressive victory of the season, a 28-24 road win over then-No. 15 Cincinnati.
Heisman hopeful Brian Brohm threw for 350 yards and three touchdowns, and senior wide receiver Harry Douglas returned from an injury to make seven catches for 118 yards.
The Cardinals offense could get another boost this week with the expected return of wide receiver Mario Urrutia from injury.
UConn cornerback Darius Butler said the key to beating Louisville will be pressuring Brohm and keeping him from finding those targets.
"As long as he doesn't have time, he can't be as good as he is," Butler said. "We've got to get him rattled. We've got to get some hits on him and knock him off his game a little bit."
Louisville is 3-0 against the Huskies, including a 48-17 route last year in Kentucky. The Cardinals are 2-1 on the road this season.
"We have a chip on our shoulder," said Louisville defensive lineman Earl Heyman. "That's how we have to play. We enjoy the challenge of going into a hostile environment. That's exactly what that is. We would have it no other way."
UConn is fighting for some respect. Their five victories this season have come against teams that have combined for just nine wins all year.
"It wouldn't really say this is a defining game, it's just another challenge, a bigger challenge," UConn defensive tackle Dan Davis said.
It's the first of several big challenges that both teams will face coming down the stretch.
After Louisville, UConn has games left against No. 2 South Florida (6-0), Rutgers (4-2), No. 23 Cincinnati (6-1), Syracuse (1-6) and No. 8 West Virginia (5-1).
Louisville must play the Mountaineers, Scarlet Knights and Bulls along with Pittsburgh.
"To drop three games makes you question yourself and what might you have done better, or might have done wrong," said Louisville wide receiver Pat Carter. "This conference is still open and we can still win it."
AP Sports Writer Will Graves in Louisville, Ky., contributed to this report.
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