College Football Expert Picks Louisville Cardinals vs. Virginia Cavaliers

Louisville Cardinals (23) running through the field

Jay Pryce

Wednesday, October 26, 2016 6:24 PM UTC

Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016 6:24 PM UTC

The fifth-ranked Louisville Cardinals are laying 30-plus points for the second time this season when they square off against Virginia at Scott Stadium on Saturday afternoon. We predict there is some value left in the number. Check out our College Football pick with a preview here.



Louisville Cardinals (6-1 SU, 5-1 ATS)

Louisville leads the nation with 52.6 points scored per game, fueled by quarterback Lamar Jackson. The Heisman frontrunner accounted for 4 scores in the Cardinals' 54-13 romp over N.C. State last week, setting the school record for touchdowns in a single season with the performance. He has 34 total—16 rushing and 18 passing. Remarkably, the Cardinals have 5 games left in the regular season.

Defensively, the Cardinals’ 4.3 yards per play ranks seventh best in efficiency in college football. It's equally good against the run and the pass allowing 3.2 yards per carry and 5.9 yards per throw. The unit allows 341.2 total yards per game in 5 ACC contests this season.

Louisville opened as a 25.5-point favorite for the matchup, the line rocketing to -30.5 midweek. The program has only been favored by 30 points or more once against an ACC opponent, Duke (+34.5) this season. The Cardinals failed to cover in a 24-14 victory.

 Virginia Cavaliers (2-5 SU, 4-3 ATS)

Virginia is 2-2 SU and ATS head to head with Louisville since 1980. It's kicked off a double-digit dog once (+12.5) in the series but has never squared off against a number as high as listed on the board. The Cavs, in fact, have kicked off 30-point dogs or more one time in this span, losing 37-3 at Florida State in 2000 as 32-point pups.

Offensively, UVA is below par, scoring 27.3 points per game. Quarterback Kurt Benkhart and ECU transfer with a big arm is the starter. He averages just 5.8 yards per passing attempt, and rarely strikes deep down the field. Trailing in most games, playcalling resorts to the pass way too much. It’s throwing on 58.2 percent of plays, ninth-most nationally.

The run game and blocking are where the unit is most talented. Taquan Mizzell is the feature tailback, picking up 5.6 yards per carry It rolls out a veteran offensive line that has gifted only 20 sacks and 16 tackles for a loss all season.

The Cavs yield unhealthy 276.3 passing yards per game. In three contests against foes averaging above this mark, the number balloons to 345.3 passing yards allowed. Louisville enters with 331.6 per game on the season. It will likely be a long day for the secondary.


Final Analysis

Louisville has only faced one team giving up 30 points or more on the season entering a contest, Marshall. It won that game 59-28 as a 30.5-point favorite as well. All signs point to another huge offensive display for the Cardinals, and UVA is up against a defense improving every week. It’s a huge number, but the College Football pick here is Louisville -31. Our projections have the Cardinals at -35, so there is cushion despite the steam. 

 Free College Football Pick: Louisville -31.5 (-105)Best Line Offered: at Matchbook

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