Here's The Deal: Louisville looks to bounce back from a close loss to Clemson that probably ended any longshot bid for the Atlantic Division in its debut season in the ACC. The Cardinals return to Papa John’s for just the second time since Week 2 for a chance to become bowl-eligible in Bobby Petrino’s return to the school, and get righted prior to the Oct. 30 showdown with Florida State.
NC State’s early season mojo is long gone. And if the Pack can’t locate it fast, a once-promising campaign will be long gone. The team has dropped three straight, never recovering from a blown lead against Florida State on Sept. 27, and seven players were suspended this week for their roles in a BB shooting incident.
Why NC State Might Win: It doesn’t take a ton of points to outscore Louisville these days. The Cardinal offense is misfiring this season, ranking above just Wake Forest in the ACC. The running game lacks pop, and an injury has forced the staff to juggle quarterbacks Will Gardner and Reggie Bonnafon.
Now, the Pack isn’t great defensively, but the offense can hang with the Cards as long as QB Jacoby Brissett can get back on track.
Why Louisville Might Win: Brissett’s bid to rebound from back-to-back rough outings will be denied by the Cardinal D. Louisville is three games above .500 because of the play of its D, which has been the ACC’s best unit so far this season.
It’s giving up just 14 points per game and 3.7 yards per play, which ranks second nationally to Stanford. The Wolfpack offense, meanwhile, has gone in the tank, scoring only 31 points over the last 11 quarters.
Who To Watch Out For: The Louisville D is doing so many things well right now, it’s going to force Brissett to be perfect on Saturday. And perfection is difficult with linemen in your face. The Pack will have its hands full with a Cardinal front seven, namely Lorenzo Mauldin, Sheldon Rankins and Keith Kelsey, that’s already fueled 55 tackles for loss and two dozen sacks.
What’s Going To Happen: This is a tough draw for NC State to begin turning its season around. The way Louisville is playing defense, the Pack will be hard-pressed to keep drives alive or score points. Even if the Cardinals continue having their own problems reaching the end zone, the D will pick up the slack, making sure State doesn’t threaten in the second half.
Prediction: Louisville 31 … NC State 13
Line: Louisville -17 o/u: 48