Game 10: Louisville
Date/Time/Location: 11.09.2019, 15:30, Miami Gardens, FL
|10/28/19||K||Blaton Creque||ACL||is out for season|
|10/17/19||QB||Jawon Pass||Foot||is out for season|
|08/06/19||S||TreSean Smith||Suspension||is out indefinitely|
This is a rare matchup as far as ACC games go. The Canes and Cardinals have only played once in an ACC game, back in 2014. Miami owns the series overall, with a record of 9 wins, 3 losses, and 1 tie. However, all 3 of those losses have come in a row (Louisville is on a 3-game win streak) and none of the games have been competitive, with Louisville winning by 24, 27, and 18 points.
Louisville has been a pleasant surprise in the ACC. The Cardinals were in for a major rebuild and picked to finish near the bottom of the ACC. Instead, the opposite has happened. The Cardinals have one really bad loss, to Florida State, which is just embarrassing. But other than that, they lost to Notre Dame and Clemson. They also have wins over Virginia and Wake Forest, 2 ranked teams, and sit at 5-3 overall, and 3-2 in the ACC. Louisville had a bye last week.
Micale Cunningham has seized control of the QB position and has been instrumental in leading this Louisville resurgence. Cunningham is a sophomore who completes 62% of his passes, runs the ball well, and has an 8-2 TD-INT ratio. He’s also a threat to run. Javian Hawkins is the workhorse at RB, and Tutu Atwell and Dez Fitzpatrick are the go-to WRs. The Cardinals don’t use the TE much. Louisville has been pretty strong offensively, ranking 35th. By comparison, the Canes are 80th. But the Canes can get after them. Louisville is 124th in sack rate allowed offensively, slightly worse than the Canes.
Defensively, Louisville ranks 78th in efficiency. By comparison, the Canes are 34th. Louisville is 101st in the country in yards allowed per game. They are 88th against the run and 106th against the pass, so there is not anything they do particularly well. They are 67th in sacks (Canes are 3rd).
On Special Teams, Louisville has a problem at kicker. Blanton Creque was the kicker, and perfect on Extra Points and also really consistent on FGs, making all the short ones and showing leg up to 50 yards. But he tore his ACL and is done for the season. Enter Ryan Chalifoux, who has attempted and made one extra point this year. Louisville’s punter, Mason King, is excellent averaging 43 yards per punt and has hit 8 punts over 50 this year, including a long of 60. The Cardinals haven’t done much in the return game, although Chatarius Atwell did pop one return for 50 yards this year.
What to Expect This Week
Both teams come in playing relatively well, which is an odd feeling. And they both have strong punting games and a really shaky kicking game (although Louisville’s situation is due to injury). It’s also a matchup of strength on weakness on both sides of the ball. Louisville’s offensive and defensive efficiency line up almost exactly to the Canes, but in reverse. So if Louisville’s offense wins that matchup with the Canes defense, expect a long day. And vice versa.
The other thing to look out for is the sacks. Both offensive lines struggle a bit, but the Canes ability to get after the QB is the only elite thing either of these teams do. It could decide the game. Miami wins this game by containing Cunningham as a runner, forcing him to throw in negative situations. If Cunningham is able to make plays with his legs, then the Canes defensve gets into trouble and Miami’s offense will be forced to respond. Offensively, the Canes need to continue to generate big plays, as they did last week. Too often this year, the Canes have been forced to nibble on long drives, and the sacks, penalties, drops, and missed kicks have depressed the point total.
The Canes lose this game by reverting to bad habits up front, and turning the ball over while Cunningham makes enough plays to win. If either team has to make a big kick, look out.
JT’s pessimism didn’t pay off, and none of us have any idea how to make sense of this team. This week was Vishnu’s turn to get the win and cover, with Adam splitting the difference.
|Straight Up||Against the Spread|
Louisville is no doubt ahead of schedule under Scott Satterfield. This team was terrible last year, and he has quickly turned it into a steady, consistent competitor in the ACC. The Cardinals’ offense is explosive — top 10 in the country in 40+ yard plays — but the Canes’ defense is equally adept at limiting explosive plays. And Louisville is allowing more tackles for loss than any other Power 5 team in the country on a per game basis — even worse than Florida State. So Miami’s front 7 should be able to continue to be disruptive and get Louisville off schedule on offense. The concern will be keeping contain on Cunningham. If he manages to avoid the pressure in the pocket, he will probably be able to break some long runs. On the other side of the ball, Miami’s offense will likely continue to struggle on third downs, as that seems to be a pervasive issue regardless of opponent. But Louisville struggles to stop the run, so perhaps Miami can finally get a running game going this week. All told, with this a matchup of strength on strength and weakness on weakness, I would expect another relatively low-scoring game. Behind another strong defensive performance, and with Jarren Williams appearing to be fully healthy again, I think Miami gets the win, though I would expect it to be close throughout.
Miami 24, Louisville 14
Disclaimer: This pick may be influenced by recent game selections in which I picked Miami to lose only for the Canes to pull out upset victories. Okay, now that we got that out of the way, you have to go back to 2015 to find a Miami team that put in a quality performance the week after playing FSU. Last year, Virginia beat Miami after Miami’s come from behind victory over FSU. Two years ago? A miracle win over Georgia Tech. Three years ago? Embarrassing effort against North Carolina. While last week was the best Miami has played all season, the Canes have also played down to Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech already this year in what should have been comfortable victories. I think Vegas senses that as well, since this spread is much lower than it probably should be. Perhaps Miami proves me wrong three weeks in a row, but I just do not see Miami playing to the level it will need to in order to notch three victories in a row for the first time this season.
Louisville 24, Miami 23
My rationale for picking Miami to beat FSU was that it was an impossibility for either of those teams to play well 2 games in a row, and the Seminoles had just drubbed the Orange. So, does that carry forward for another week? Nope. Louisville and Miami are fairly even from a performance standpoint. But this is a home game for Miami, and they have a huge advantage with how much pressure they generate on the QB. Jarren Williams has really grown into the QB position, and the OL is has been blocking well in pass protection. Miami is able to hit some big throws and the DL continues to dominate.
Miami 23, Louisville 13