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ST Petersburg Bowl
Louisville vs. Southern Miss
Betting Line: Louisville -3 o/u 57
Don't underestimate the ability of multiple championship winning coaches on a staff. Charlie Strong, former Florida defensive coordinator, is doing big things in his first year as the head coach of the Louisville Cardinals. He has taken a downright awful team and put them in the St. Petersburg Bowl.
Much of their success has been because of the workhorse RB Bilal Powell. The senior has racked up 1,330 yards and 10 TDs this year. The Cardinals defense allowed less than 300 total yards in 5 of their last 6 games. The defense allowed West Virginia to gain only 261 yards and sacked Mountaineers QB Geno Smith 4 times. The Cardinals are a classic example of a team that has progressed to be their best at the end of the year.
Southern Mississippi has put together a rock solid 8-4 year with a marquee win coming against then #25 UCF. They are a run first offense, but they can throw the ball too. Junior QB Austin Davis boasts a 134.10 QB rating this year after passing for 2,898 yards and 18 TDs. The freshman-sophomore combination of Kendrick Hardy and Desmond Johnson has combined for 1,364 yards and 14 TDs.
They will have a unique challenge taking on Charlie Strong's defense, but it
appears they are up to the task. The Golden Eagles have allowed 5 different
teams to gain 400+ yards this year. They are capable of stopping Louisville's
Bilal Powell, but it wont be easy.
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Remember, when handicapping all the Bowl Games, we are looking for games to bet where we feel we have an edge. Of course, there are going to be a number of games where we simply don't find an edge. You don't have to bet every game on the board just because it's Bowl season and they are all on tv in the spotlight.
That being said, this is a game where we don't happen to have an edge. But we'll offer you our best guess. Our predicted score here is Louisville 30-25, so fairly close to the line of -3 and the total of 57. Yards per point numbers favor Louisville by 2. Southern Miss has the edge offensively with a ypp number of 12 compared to the 14 of Louisville. However, Louisville has the edge defensively with a decent ypp number of 16 compared to the very poor 12 of So Miss. So, it looks as though both teams will be able to move the ball but if you're looking for an edge of any kind, it may be with the Louisville defense. If we had to count on one side coming up big defensively, we'd side with Louisville.
Motivational edges may favor Louisville here. 6-6 for this team was a fantastic accomplishment and can be capped off with a win, making for a winning record of 7-6 and a heck of a lot to look forward to in the coming years. This is a team that has been turned around and is back heading in the right direction after a few off years. They will likely be thrilled to be playing in this game as they showed when they qualified for a Bowl by beating Rutgers 40-13. Southern Miss no doubt had higher expectations this year.
So, our best guess here is to take Louisville and lay the small spot. Our numbers favor them, albeit slightly, and the motivational edges and that drastically improved defense may be enough to put them over the top here. Louisville -3