College Football Picks: Louisville vs. Connecticut Friday

Willie Bee

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 2:46 PM GMT

For one more week, the Louisville Cardinals will root for the Houston Cougars.  And therein is a potential problem Friday evening for the Ville with a trip to face a pretty bad, yet still dangerous, Connecticut Huskies squad that is beginning to run out of opportunities to avoid a winless season. 

Not that anyone actually expects UConn to pull off the outright upset, at least the people I've communicated with via either old-fashioned face-to-face conversation or the innerweb. The college football odds concur with Louisville opening as 27.5 point chalk before that inched up to an even four touchdowns before dropping back to the starter at most betting outlets.

Most online sportsbooks monitored by SBR's live college football odds are showing a 49 point total, one of the lowest scoreboard hurdles on the Week 11 slate.

[gameodds]6/248160/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

Don't You Wish It Was A Hardwood Matchup?

There isn't a lot of series history between the schools on the gridiron, but what there is has been recent and spread out among two different conferences. The first time the Cardinals and Huskies played football was 2000, a 41-22 Louisville victory in a C-USA/Big East battle. The last eight have come as Big East foes, and this first AAC clash finds Louisville 5-4 overall, but Connecticut backers 6-3 against the spread.

In fact, UConn pulled off a big 23-20 upset in three overtimes a year ago in Louisville, Charlie Strong's bunch laying 10 in that one, to essentially end Cardinal hopes for a BCS Bowl invitation. A Huskies win here would definitely do the same, but the circumstances are much different this time.

Louisville was coming off its first loss of the 2012 season when hosting the Huskies; this time, the Cardinals have already rebounded from their first setback to Central Florida, a tight battle in which the Knights were vastly undervalued and Ville simply counted chickens before they hatched after building a 28-7 lead midway through the third quarter.

With the exception of the loss to UCF, the Cardinals defense has been sensational. Strong has certainly put his stamp on this program with a unit that has given up just 85 points in eight games, 35 of those in the loss to the Knights. And they'll be facing a very impotent UConn offense that has shown no improvement since Tim Boyle took over as starting quarterback, actually taking steps back.

Take a look at our SBR's College Football Picks for Week 11 Betting Odds Report

Can Louisville Focus On This Game Enough To Cover?

Another potential look-ahead game on this week's SBR docket was Ball State hosting Central Michigan, and my conclusion was the BSU Cardinals would be able to forget about a matchup with Northern Illinois in a week and get the job done against the Chippewas. This Cardinals-Huskies matchup, there's less certainty as I hunt-&-peck away on the keyboard.

Louisville isn't only peeking towards a matchup with Houston in a week, the Cardinals are also thinking about those same Cougars taking on UCF Saturday night. Central Florida can climb into the driver's seat of the American Athletic conference with a win at home over UH, and with that probably once again put an end to Louisville's hopes for a BCS spot.

Mother Nature & Final Thoughts

ESPN2 will carry Friday's telecast starting at 8:30 PM (ET), and gusty conditions are in the forecast for East Hartford, CT during the day. The weatherman is calling for WNW afternoon blows in the 25-30 mph range, which could wreak havoc on kicks and aerials at Rentschler Field depending whether or not they taper off a bit as predicted in the early evening. 

The thermometer should be in the low-to-mid 40s at kickoff and drop into the upper-30s by the end of the contest. 

This should be a complete mismatch, especially when UConn has the football. The Huskies are near the very bottom in several offensive categories, including 32 sacks allowed, and that spells trouble against a Cardinals defense that has recorded 27 sacks (tied for 6th in nation). Louisville's ability to cover this spread will depend on how serious the Cards take it, and how long Strong keeps his foot on the gas. 

I'll bite the bullet and lay the points on Ville for my free college football pick

My pick: Louisville -27.5

Season record: 18-7 (+9.3 units); four picks pending