On Saturday, November 11, 2017, the 6-3 Virginia Cavaliers travel to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium to take on the 5-4 Louisville Cardinals in this ACC showdown. Virginia enters this contest following a huge victory over Georgia Tech last weekend, 40-36, which not only snapped a two-game losing streak, what was one of their best offensive showings of the year.
Louisville got off to a hot start, winning four of their first five games of the year, but they have dropped three of the last four, including to North Carolina State, Boston College, and Wake Forest. These are two teams that have not been playing well lately, but Louisville can secure a bowl berth with a victory over Virginia. The Cavaliers have already reached the six when total to make them bowl eligible.
The Cavaliers are 5-4 against the spread so far this season, and are 5-2in their last seven games against the spread. They have played exceptionally well on the road against the spread over there last 13 games, going 9-4, but most recently have gone just 2-4 against the spread on the road. Virginia has gone under in six of their last nine games on the road.
The Cardinals have been terrible against the spread so far this season, going 1-7-1, and are 1-11-1 against the spread over there last 13 games. They are 0-5 against the spread in their last five games at home. Straight up they are 12-4 in their last 16 games at home but just 2-4 in their last six in their home stadium.
Despite being three games above .500, Virginia has outscored their opponents overall this season by just nine points. The Cavaliers have a fine ground attack led by Jordan Ellis, who has rushed for 708 yards and five touchdowns this season. He has a solid 4.2 yards per carry average, but when Virginia is looking for a big play it is receiver Olamide Zacchaeus that they like to use in a lot of reverses, as he has gained 151 yards on 21 carries, a 7.2 yards per carry average.
Quarterback Kurt Benkert has thrown for 2278 yards and 20 touchdowns, completing 59.6 percent of his passes. Benkert has been careful with the ball as well, throwing just six interceptions in 366 attempts.
The defense for Virginia has recorded 22 sacks this season, but it is in their secondary where they have really made a difference, intercepting 12 passes the season. Brenton Nelson leads the team with four picks this year, and Quin Blanding has three. Look for them to be some serious difference makers if Virginia is going to win this game.
Louisville has an exceptional offense, averaging nearly 37 points per game, but they are also giving up nearly 31 points per game. What is amazing about those statistics is that the Cardinals have outgained their opponents by nearly 1300 yards. This is an incredibly potent offense that needs to keep scoring if they are going to win games.
Leading the offense is quarterback Lamar Jackson, who is rushed for 1029 yards and 14 touchdowns, both of which rank him among the leaders in the country. Jackson also has a 6.3 yards per carry average. Those are incredibly impressive numbers in and of themselves, but Jackson has also thrown for 2808 yards and 18 touchdowns. He has established himself as quite possibly the most dynamic quarterback in the country, completing 60.4 percent of his passes while throwing six interceptions in 326 attempts. This young man is absolutely devastating, and the Virginia defense is really going to have their hands full in trying to slow him down.
If the Cardinals are going to have any chance of winning this game they’ve got to get some pressure from their defense. Jon Greenard leads the team in sacks with 5.0, and overall the Cardinals have 17 sacks this season and seven interceptions. Trumaine Washington leads the team with three interceptions.
Cavaliers vs. Cardinals Betting Lines
This should be an exciting game for sure. It has all the makings of a serious offensive showing, as Louisville seems to score at will and their defense seems unable to slow any team down. The Cardinals are favored by 10.5 and that just seems unrealistic. Take Virginia and the points and expect this game to be in the 70s for a total.
My Pick: Virginia +10.5 (-110)
Totals:Over 66.0 (-110)
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