College Football Pick
In case anyone had doubts about Louisville’s ability to score, they shot those down with an emphatic win over NC State last weekend. Now on the road, they’ll look to continue that trend against a Virginia defense that has given up 80 points in its last two Games. As expected, the Cardinals opened as large -28 point favorites.
When these teams met last year, Virginia kept it close in a 38-31 loss, but the difference from that Game and this one is obvious. Louisville didn’t have LAmar Jackson in that meeting and still gave up 38 points to this offense. On the other side, the Cavaliers did have some success, but the Cards arguably have a better defense this season as well.
The first question is if Virginia can slow down Jackson and this offense at all. They couldn’t do anything right against UNC last Game and it was mostly the same case in the Pittsburgh loss. And while Virginia is at home here, they were at home for those last two losses, so home field may not be a huge factor.
Jackson continues to set Louisville record books on fire, throwing for another 355 yards and three touchdowns last Game to go with 76 more yards on the ground with another touchdown. He has thrown for 18 touchdowns on the year to go with 908 rushing yards and 16 more touchdowns. It’s hard to see this Virginia defense doing much to stop Jackson. In addition to Jackson in the backfield, Brandon Radcliff and Jeremy Smith have been able options throughout the year.
So far, the Cardinals have traveled well this season, already scoring 50-plus points in two road Games as well as 36 points at Clemson. With Louisville likely scoring at least 40 points or more, the cover will come down to the Virginia offense.
That was the same case last week with NC State and they didn’t accept the challenge.
Offensively, the Cavs are fine, but when faced with high-scoring teams, haven’t really been able to keep up. Their best Game came against Central Michigan. Otherwise, they put 31 points on Pittsburgh and 26 on Oregon, both of whom have bad defenses.
Quarterback Kurt Benkert has decent numbers this season with 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions, but a lot of those numbers have come against questionable defenses. Eight of those TDs came against Richmond and CMU. In his last two Games, Benkert has one passing touchdown. He’ll obviously need more than that for the Cavs to cover.
They’ll try and get a ground Game going between Taquan Mizzell and Albert Reid, and both have looked solid this year, but if they get down early, that may not work. Covering this Game will likely come down to what Benkert can do in the passing Game.
The Cardinals are 28-12-1 ATS in their last 41 road Games and 6-2-1 ATS in their last nine overall. The Cavaliers are 7-2 ATS in their last nine ACC Games and 9-3-1 ATS in their last 13 overall.
Our Pick – Louisville -27.5