CFN's Take: NC State vs. Louisville
Louisville (2-2) at NC State (1-3) 3:30 PM ESPNU
Why to watch: How bad has Louisville been so far this season? It hasn’t trumped Notre Dame and Michigan as the most disappointing program through the first four weeks, but it’s beginning to enter the discussion. There were signs of trouble in a 58-42 defeat of Middle Tennessee, but no one could have predicted last weekend’s debacle to 0-3 and 37-point underdog Syracuse. While the Brian Brohm-led offense is always worth the price of admission, the defense has been utterly abominable ever since the Murray State opener ended. While it’s only four games into his tenure, it’s already a defining moment for Steve Kragthorpe. If Louisville dogs it this Saturday after getting embarrassed a week ago, it’ll speak volumes about the coach’s inability to get through to his veteran team. If the Cards want to feel good about themselves this weekend, they can look across the sidelines at NC State, which might compete with Duke as the ACC’s worst program this season. In Tom O’Brien’s debut in Raleigh, the Pack has already lost to UCF, and wasn’t competitive in league games with Boston College and Clemson. With hopes of a post-season game only mathematically alive, the next two months will be all about building for the future and finding a reliable quarterback between Harrison Beck and Daniel Evans.
Why Louisville might win: Whatever happens with the Cardinals this fall, they’re going to score lots of points with an offense that averages 619 yards a game and has yet to be held below 34 points in a game. Brohm has been sensational, throwing 15 touchdown passes to just three picks, and the Anthony Allen-led running game gives the unit an element of balance and short-yardage toughness. Louisville’s season averages might actually go up this week against a toothless NC State defense that just got manhandled for 608 yards by Clemson.
Why NC State might win: The way Louisville is tackling and covering these days, North Carolina A&T might score 30 on it. The Cardinals’ 90th-ranked defense hasn’t been able to recover since the Middle Tennessee scare because it just isn’t very good. It’s allowed at least 460 total yards in each of the last three games, and has been completely destroyed through the air. This is exactly the type of game that could ignite Beck’s career and land WR Darrell Blackman ACC Player of the Week honors.
Who to watch: Short of dropping back into coverage or defending the run, the Louisville offense has done about all it could to win games this year. One of the poster children for that determination has been Allen, whose run for 493 yards and five touchdowns in four games. As the Cards look to extend drives to keep the defense off the field, Allen will run wild on a Pack D that’s yet to hold an opponent under 200 yards rushing.
What will happen: Although Louisville is far from out of the woods, it’ll get a chance to regroup this week against an NC State program that won’t keep up offensively or do much to slow down the Cardinal attack.
CFN Prediction: Louisville 42 … NC State 24 ... Line: Louisville -8.5
Must See Rating: (5 Ken Burns' The War - 1 The Big Bang Theory) ... 2.5
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