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Quarterback showdown

University of South Florida coach Jim Leavitt has mastered the art of saying nothing.

Each week when talking about the upcoming opponent, Leavitt usually goes position by position, including special teams, listing a strength of each.

But at Tuesday’s media luncheon, he was unusually candid about one particular player at Louisville.

While quarterback Brian Brohm has received Heisman Trophy consideration and is considered one of the top senior prospects in the country, perhaps his biggest accomplishment is making Leavitt candid.

“No doubt in my mind he’ll be great in the NFL. He’ll be one of the top picks and he’ll be extremely successful,” Leavitt said. “He’s that good.”

The Cardinals have the most potent passing attack in the Big East and rank third in the NCAA with 359.3 passing yards per game.

Brohm has easily distanced himself from the competition in the conference. The 22-year-old has thrown for seven more touchdowns and 1,093 yards more than any other quarterback in the Big East.

The 6-foot-4, 228-pound Brohm ranks eighth in the nation in passing efficiency and is one of only two quarterbacks in the top 10 with at least 400 attempts.

Known primarily as a pocket-passer, Brohm possesses a completely different style than the scrambling done by USF quarterback Matt Grothe.

“Brian and I are completely different football players. He likes to sit in the pocket and isn’t the fastest guy,” Grothe said. “It’s like comparing Jeff Garcia to Peyton Manning. His type of style works for him and their team and the type of style I have works for us and our team.”

After struggling in the middle of the season, the Bulls’ passing attack has become the strength of the team in recent weeks and Grothe has been doing his best Brohm impression.

Against Cincinnati, the sophomore threw for a school-record 382 yards, and last week at Syracuse had 181 passing yards and two touchdowns before sitting out the fourth quarter.

Although both teams are averaging more than 32 points per game, Grothe believes Saturday’s contest will come down to which defense can make stops.

The two teams have alternated home victories each of the past two seasons. USF surprisingly blew out Louisville 45-14 in its Big East debut in 2005 and Louisville avenged the loss with a 30-8 thrashing last season.

“I don’t think it will be a shootout. Our defense is one of the best, and their defense has, the last few years, been one of the best,” Grothe said. “I think it’s going to be more of who can make the bigger plays and take advantage of what the other team’s vulnerable of.”

The Bulls received an unexpected advantage when Louisville suspended starting cornerback Rod Council.

As strong as the pass game has been for the Cardinals, the pass defense served as their biggest weakness.

Louisville has the Big East’s worst pass efficiency defense. The Cardinals are allowing 249 yards per game, with five opponents scoring 38 points or more this season.

While USF has already clinched a bowl appearance, a win would make return trips to the Papajohns.com or Meineke Car Care bowls less likely.

Among the other non-BCS bowls the Bulls are eligible for are the Texas Bowl, Gator Bowl, Sun Bowl and International Bowl.

The Cardinals need one more win to become bowl eligible and are seeking their first-ever win at Raymond James Stadium.

“It is going to be a game you’re going to want to be at,” Leavitt said. “You’re going to see a lot of explosive plays on both sides of the field. It is all going to be one heck of a football game.”