After back-to-back creampuffs, the Louisville Cardinals will take their show on the road to NC State, a ranked NC State team. They are 24th, the first time they’ve been ranked since 2011. The ACC now has five ranked teams, one of which doesn’t include Florida State. It won’t mean much before they beat a legitimate squad though, and they have that opportunity on Thursday night against the Cardinals. Louisville had Kent State and Murray State. Don’t read too far into those 42-3 and 55-10 wins. The way I see it, Louisville wasn’t able to cover the closing spreads so they weren’t perfect. The Cards had many chances to tack on a couple more touchdowns against Kent State, but had some mistakes down the stretch.
We need to go back to September 16th to find the last meaningful game they played in. It didn’t go very well, as Clemson flexed their muscles and showed why they are a national contender. The Tigers just won another big one on the road, defeating Virginia Tech easily. Meanwhile, Louisville has been waiting for their next game to show they are contenders. A win over NC State isn’t going to change many people’s minds, unless it is absolute beatdown maybe, but it would be a nice quality win on the road nonetheless. NC State are certainly an underrated foe.
Both teams enter with a record of 4-1. The Wolfpack have wins over Marshall, Furman, Florida State, and Syracuse. That win against FSU isn’t as impressive as it looked like it was then, though. The Seminoles just grabbed their first win of the year, against of all teams Wake Forest. Wake Forest gave them a run for their money as well. In other words, Louisville and NC State will be seeking their biggest wins of the year thus far. Lamar Jackson will have the stage all to himself tonight, as this is the only game on Thursday night. We’ll see how he handles it on the road after getting tune-up games the last two weeks. Head below for our free Louisville vs. NC State pick.
Louisville Cardinals vs. NC State Wolfpack Betting Odds:
vs. NC State +4.5(-115)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Louisville vs. NC State Pick:
Jackson has been playing good football, but when it came down to it, and he had an opportunity to really cement his legacy, he failed. In a sense he’s already done that, the guy already has a Heisman Trophy in his corner. However, Louisville struggled down the stretch in 2016, and they’ve yet to enjoy success as a team. With a loss already under their belt against Clemson, Louisville has to start winning the games against highly regarded teams. If Louisville win out they shouldn’t have to worry about anything, though, they’d probably be in the playoff.
Lamar Jackson has thrown 13 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He’s also rushed for 437 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground. Jackson is still alive in the Heisman hunt, but needs to start putting up the stats when it matters. Me personally, at this point, I don’t have him close to the Heisman. Rolling up numbers against inferior competition like Kent State and Murray State does nothing for me.
The problem I had with Louisville from the start if their offensive line. Sure enough, in the opener, they had all kind of issues against Purdue. They couldn’t even get the ball snapped properly, with false starts left and right. Their offensive line issues were magnified against a defensive line like Clemson, who just bullied them in the trenches. Louisville has some gaudy looking stats, but they’re skewed a bit due to playing Kent State and Murray State. Nevertheless, their offense is still potent.
NC State’s strength is found in their defensive line. They have what is regarded as one of the top units in the country. Notably, Bradley Chubb will be a top NFL pick in the draft. He leads the nation in tackles for a loss and also 4th in sacks. He came to Louisville as a linebacker, and can run as fast as most linebackers out there. Offensively, Ryan Finley has been terrific at quarterback. He’s thrown for 9 touchdowns and no interceptions, with a 71.9 completion percentage. Louisville has speed on NC State. But I think the energy of the home crowd is going to give the Wolfpack a jolt. This should be a good one that comes down to a few points.
PICK: NC STATE +4.5 (-110)