Last week was supposed to be a coming out party for the Louisville Cardinals, but the Clemson Tigers thoroughly dominated them this past Saturday night. Lamar Jackson already had a coming out party in 2016, but the Cardinals as a team, are still struggling to beat elite competition. And as far as Clemson is concerned, they may be the best team in the country. They clearly aren’t on that level, although Jackson is one of the most talented players in college football. There are a couple of issues I have noted with Louisville this year. First, their offensive line isn’t where it has to be to become an elite team. The secondary is also lacking and is too susceptible to giving up game changing plays.
A play here and there eventually added up to too much to overcome for Louisville. Frustration was written all over the face of Lamar Jackson. He should feel a little better this week, though, as Louisville goes from possible the best team in the country, to the worst. Kent State rolls into town on the tail end of a big loss for the Cardinals. The Golden Flashes will play on the road in consecutive weeks, as they are coming off a 21-0 loss to Marshall. Kent State did a fine job containing Marshall, but that offense was ugly as they come.
Kent State operates a dysfunctional version of the triple-option. They don’t have the proper personnel to run it properly, so it amounts to a weird variation of it that doesn’t go very far. Starter Nick Holley will be out for this contest, along with the rest of the season. Holley threw for just 1-yard against Clemson, so their ability to pass the ball even before he went out was about zilch. Senior George Bollas will fill-in for Holley. Bollas has a career 4 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He has rushed for 401 yards in 20 games, which is the only form of a weapon Kent State will have in this matchup. Head below for our free Kent State vs. Louisville pick.
Kent State Golden Flashes vs. Louisville Cardinals Betting Odds:
Kent State +43(-110)
vs. Louisville -43(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Kent State vs. Louisville Pick:
Jackson needs to start padding his stats if he wants a repeat at the Heisman. Games like this is where he must go bonkers. At the end of the season, no one is going to look at his stats and note that a big chunk came against lesser competition. They’re just going to see the numbers and gawk. So, when we look at it that way, it’s an important game for Jackson to put up video game numbers. Clemson beat Kent State, 56-3, so that is a little bit of a measuring stick for Louisville in this game. Note that the Golden Flashes will be without their starting quarterback in this game, though.
The Cardinals are 124th against the pass, allowing 331 yards per game. Clemson’s Kelly Bryant tore their defense up, looking like Deshaun Watson out there, completing bombs downfield. Kent State isn’t going to be completing many bombs, if any in this game. The Kent State offense is not designed to compete big plays through the air, not do they have a quarterback who is doing to dice the porous Louisville secondary up. Kent State is 128th in the country with 74.3 yards passing per game.
Louisville is much better against the run, allowing 121.7 yards per game for 43rd in the country. The only thing Kent State in this game is hoping for some holes on the ground. I don’t expect much to open up. To keep this close, and when I say close, I mean within 40 points, they’ll need to take advantage of a Louisville mistake or two. Jackson throws a pick-6, a fumble in their own territory, and then maybe Kent State covers. Still, a 56-10 final would be a Louisville cover, which I think is best case scenario for Kent State. I don’t see how the Golden Flashes score more than that, and I don’t see how Lamar Jackson doesn’t go nuts in this game. Full disclose, I took Louisville at -39 earlier this week, but I’m fine with a pick at 43 or 44.
PICK: LOUISVILLE -43 (-110)