This ACC encounter features two teams in the Top 20 as they open up conference play looking to finish in first or second place to play for the championship. Who gets a leg up to start with?
Miami Hurricanes vs. Louisville Cardinals
Saturday, September 19, 2020 – 07:30 PM EDT at Cardinal Stadium
This Atlantic Coast Conference clash was moved to after dark when the original contest, Virginia at Virginia Tech, which was supposed to air on ABC was canceled and ESPN bosses slid this one in its place. Actually, this is probably a more interesting matchup anyways and it should be fun to watch.
This is a launching point battle for both Miami and Louisville as they try and rekindle past glories with coaching staff’s in their second year. The Hurricanes were only 5-7 a season ago under Manny Diaz and are after a quick recovery. Miami ran the ball right down UAB’s throat last week for 337 yards in a 31-14 win as 15.5-point favorites.
Louisville relied more on the passing offense versus Western Kentucky, totaling 344 yards and won and covered over the Hilltoppers 35-21.
Miami Scouting Report
Coach Diaz was generally pleased with what he saw from new quarterback D'Eriq King, who used his legs for 84 yards and completed 16 of 24 passes for 144 more yards. King and his receivers are still working out the kinks on pushing the ball down the field for bigger plays and that will come in time.
The Hurricanes offensive line was able to dominate the smaller Blazers' defensive line and they will try to get push again against the Cardinals defensive front. King and his receivers will have opportunities versus an ordinary Louisville secondary. What this offense has to do is keep the pressure on both running and passing and wear the Cards out and score touchdowns when they are inside Louisville's 35-yard line.
The Canes came into this season with the second-best defensive line in the conference and they can disrupt both the run and the pass. For Miami to win on the road, they have to get Cardinals QB Micale Cunningham off-kilter with pressure to slow their passing game. If they can accomplish this, that will go a long way in determining if the Hurricanes can engineer the small upset.
Louisville Scouting Report
Coach Scott Satterfield led Louisville to a surprising 8-5 season in 2019 and that swiftly shifted expectations for fans of the ‘Ville who, like this week’s opponent, yearn for the good old days.
Satterfield quickly changed the culture from losing and quitting under Bobby Petrino’s second stint, to one of giving complete effort and playing four quarters. While the Louisville program is headed the right direction, it’s far from a finished product.
Offensively, Cunningham throws the ball fairly well, not being the most accurate passer, however, he can make big plays. This is noted with receivers Braden Smith and Fitzpatrick both going over 100 yards receiving on only four catches each versus Western Kentucky. Running back Javian Hawkins only averaged 3.7 yards a carry last week and is not expected to find more against the Hurricanes stout front.
Because the Miami offense is not a big play waiting to happen, this helps the Louisville defense and they will undoubtedly bend, they just can’t afford to break. The plan of attack for the Cards defensive coordinators should be to win first down to make King throw consistently and keep everything underneath on third down. If Miami can run the pigskin and start churning out first downs, that is a huge problem in the second half for the home team.
What Side Should You Be Looking At?
For college football picks, we are calling for the Hurricanes. The Miami defense is the strongest unit in this contest and is the one group that will have the chance to dictate the tempo in this matchup and the visitor is 16-5 ATS after gaining 300 or more rushing yards.
Louisville’s defense is also a concern. The Canes King should feel much better about his team’s offense and if he just plays as he did in Houston before transferring and at times last week, it will be difficult to corral him.
Lastly, the Cardinals special teams were anything but against Western Kentucky. While they could hardly be any worse, to make such a rapid improvement to land on 'average' appears improbable in a week. This alone could be the difference in the game and we’ll call for the upset.