The Monday night (8:00 pm ET) game that wraps up the opening weekend of the 2014 college football season features two new ACC rivals with the Miami Hurricanes under head coach Al Golden traveling to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, KT to take on the Louisville Cardinals under new (old) head coach Bobby Petrino. These two teams squared off to end last season in the Russell Athletic Bowl, a dominating 36-9 win for the Cardinals in star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s final game.
The Hurricanes will be breaking in a new quarterback in true freshman Brad Kaaya and will rely on junior running back Duke Johnson (920 yards rushing, 6 TDs in 2013) to shoulder the load against the Cardinals. The Hurricanes had issues on defense at the end of last season, allowing 37.3 points per game over the final 6 games which of course included their loss to Louisville. Linebacker Denzel Perryman is one of the hardest hitters in the country, and he moves to middle linebacker this season. He will be a key to stopping the Cardinals’ running game.
The Cardinals compiled a 12-1 record last season and finished the year ranked 15th nationally, but lost head coach Charlie Strong to Texas and Bridgewater along with two other first round draft picks to the NFL. Louisville also will be featuring a new starter under center as sophomore Will Gardner steps up to fill Bridgewater’s shoes, but he will have to do so without standout wide receiver DeVante Parker who is out with a foot injury. Senior Eli Rogers will have to step up in his absence; he tallied 44 receptions for 536 yards and 4 TDs last season. Cornerback Charles Gaines had 5 interceptions last season and is a big play presence; he will be a key to stopping the Hurricanes and their top receiver sophomore Stacy Coley when Kaaya takes to the air. The Cardinals feature strong special teams as well with kicker John Wallace having and 80% success rate on field goals for his career.
Miami vs. Louisville Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Miami Hurricanes +3.5
@Louisville Cardinals -3.5
Over 54 (-110)
Under 54 (-110)
Betting odds taken from BetOnline.ag
Miami vs. Louisville Pick:
Louisville was only 6-7 ATS last season despite their sterling record overall. The Cardinals went OVER the total 3 times and UNDER 10 times out of their 13 games last season. Miami finished with a 9-4 record overall last season, and 5-3 against ACC opponents. Their record ATS was weak as well at 5-8.
Miami will certainly rely on Johnson, their experienced offensive line and the running game to attack Louisville and take pressure off of Kaaya. They will look to slow the game down, control the clock and keep Petrino’s offense off the field. Miami is not ideally suited to this task, as they ranked 118th out of 123 FBS teams in time of possession last season with an average of 25:58 per game. The ‘Canes were blown out by these same Cardinals to end last season, and they will be breaking in a true freshman under center against a high-profile opponent on national television. While Louisville has seen some turnover in key positions since that meeting, they also have an experienced head coach taking over and playmakers on offense that they can use to attack a Miami defense that has shown no indication that they have improved from last season. Look for Petrino to implement a game plan that runs the ball right at the ‘Canes takes advantage of Miami’s inability to stop teams on 3rd down. This will allow the Cardinals to control the clock and the scoreboard. Take Louisville to cover here.