LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (3-1, 1-1) vs. MURRAY STATE RACERS (1-3, 0-1)
Game Time: 3:34 p.m.
Location: Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium: Louisville, Ky.
Television: Regional Sports Networks/Fox Sports South locally
Announcers: Wes Durham (play-by-play), James Bates (color) and Rebecca Kaple (sideline)
Favorite: Louisville by 47.5
All-Time Series: Louisville leads 13-6
Last Meeting: Louisville won 66-21 at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in 2014
Louisville Depth Chart:
Schedule of Events:
About Murray State:
Murray State will likely be the most out-matched team to visit PJCS since FIU finished out their series here under Ron “I’m just stealing money at this point” Turner. Louisville typically plays a FBS school at home but this game is different than Samford, or EKU, or even Murray State the last time they came to town. This Murray State team has been beaten handily in all but one game and they don’t seem to have those handful of players that stand out as being more talented than the others.
Head Coach Mitch Stewart hasn’t settled on a quarterback yet but Corey Newble started their game last week. Newble is a freshman but he might be the choice for Stewart because he can use his legs pretty well. Murray runs some read option and they also incorporate some RPO into what they do and Newble might execute those things a little better. Shuler Bentley will likely see the field, also and his passing numbers are actually impressive but he suffered an injury to his shoulder which might still be an issue.
The Racers don’t run the ball very well and they’re usually playing from behind, so they probably don’t get to run it the way that they want. D.J. Penick is the starter at running back and he doesn’t do anything that really wows you. He’s a young player that hasn’t really learned how to run hard yet. I wouldn’t expect Louisville to give up the chunk runs that they did last week. Murray just doesn’t have the speed and burst that Kent State did.
Out of the three key receivers that Murray plays, Jordan Gandy is the most impressive. At 6-4, he has great size and he has decent speed, too. If Murray is able to get into the red zone I would expect them to look to Gandy in the end zone. He already has 4 touchdowns on the year and he has the longest play of the season on a 52 yard catch. Demetric Johnson leads the team in catches but is only averaging about six yards per reception. L.J. Gainey is the third receiver we’ll see in most formations.
The Murray line is akin to a turnstile. One issue that came up when trying to research Murray was the fact that there aren’t any videos from Murray’s side of things. That means I had to watch a lot of the other teams highlight videos which showed a lot of sacks and blown up plays. The group is full of upperclassmen but they haven’t been great at opening things up for the running backs or protecting the quarterback.
Murray State hasn’t played very well this year but their defense has done some things to be proud of. Outside of a poor showing against Central Arkansas (Who went to the 2nd round of the playoffs last year) the defense has held teams to respectable scores. They’ve also forced plenty of turnovers and gotten to the quarterback a lot.
The best player for Murray resides at the “Stud” position. Kenney Wooten plays the same position as James Hearns in the Racers’ 3-3-5 alignment. Wooten already has 5 sacks on the season and he’s forced a fumble. If there’s a guy that I would expect to make a big play it would be Wooten. Bishop Woods is a guy on the inside that has made some plays, also.
The run defense hasn’t been too bad for the Racers as they’re allowing an average of 4.1 yards per carry. The linebacker duo for the Racers have been solid this year and they have nearly identical stats. Marico Paige and Lamont Crittendon are both on the smaller side but they can run pretty well. I didn’t have a whole lot to go off of for video for this game but that lack of size looked to be an issue on short yardage runs.
The area that has to be frustrating for Murray’s coaches is the pass defense. The Racers are allowing 60% of the opposition’s passes to be completed and they have given up a handful of really bad big plays. On the other side of it is the fact that they’ve already picked off 8 passes and taken one of the to the house. They’re playing solid football but the big plays have been killing them.
D’Montre Wade is the top cornerback for Murray. I don’t expect him to have a day like Demetrius Monday did last week with two interceptions, but he is a veteran player and has good size. He was also second team all-conference last season. Louisville hasn’t hit a lot of big passing plays this year but I would expect them to take some shots down the field this weekend.
Excitement Level: 6.9
This would probably be a full point lower had it not been for the events of this past week. The weather’s going to be great and we’re all going to watch Louisville win a football game. That will be a nice distraction.
Game Attire: Khaki shorts, red Cardinal polo, grey Cardinal bird hat
Still too early for a jeans tailgate. Burn in hell, black Cardinal bird polo.
Pregame Meal: Beer
Gonna eat a late breakfast at the house (cheese bagel) and then be on a strictly liquid diet at the stadium. Tailgate went big for Clemson. Gonna dial it back and save something for the second half of the season today.
Bold Prediction: Louisville doesn’t commit a single turnover
Let’s try to hit on this two weeks in a row.
Zykiesis Cannon Interception Alert Level: Maroon (solid)
Depends on how much the Racers want to air it out.
Predicted Star of the Game: Jawon Pass
I had a dream about Pass throwing it all over the field, and anyone who’s read this website long enough knows my sports dreams can be eerily accurate. With a short week and a big game ahead, it wouldn’t be surprising for Lamar Jackson to not play a snap after halftime.
Motivational Opposition Tweets:
There’s not a single tweet out there with the hashtag #BeatLouisville that’s in reference to this game. So I’m just going to assume there are no Racer players popping off.
—Murray State is responsible for the most lopsided loss in Louisville football history, a 105-0 stomping in 1932. That win is the second-largest all-time for the Racers.
—Bobby Petrino is 24-6 all-time in September games, including a 13-3 mark at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
—A week ago, Louisville held Kent State to 11 yards passing, the lowest passing total of any opponent since the Cards held Western Kentucky to 10 yards in 1989.
—Louisville’s Jonathan Greenard leads the nation in sack yardage with 58, and is tied for fourth in total sacks with 5.0.
—Murray State’s Kenney Wooten currently ranks sixth in the FCS in sacks per game and leads the OVC with 1.25 per game.
—The Murray State secondary has recorded eight interceptions in just four games. That ranks third in the FCS.
—In their most recent game, Murray State lost 27-7 to Austin Peay, a program which had owned the nation’s longest losing streak at 29 games.
—Louisville is 24-9 in non-conference games since 2010.
—Louisville is 78-25 all-time when playing as a team ranked in the AP top 25.
—Louisville is 13-2 in non-conference home games under Bobby Petrino.
—U of L is one of just six programs to appear in the AP poll in each of the last 21 weeks. Alabama, Clemson, Washington, Michigan and Ohio State are the others.
—Cardinal linebacker Stacy Thomas will return to the field after serving a one-game suspension last week.
—Louisville has achieved at least 500 yards of offense in 12 of its last 17 games.
—Louisville is currently riding a consecutive game scoring streak that spans 216 games dating back to the 2000 season. The streak ranks as the third longest in the ACC behind only Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech.
—Louisville is 179-11 all-time when scoring 35 or more points in a game. The Cards are also 5-104 all-time when allowing opponents to score 40 or more points.
—“The practice really has to help us: how hard we’re practicing, how physical we’re practicing, our timing. We have to have a really good week of practice this week. With the short week next week to play on Thursday night, I think it’s really important that this is a great week of practice.” —Bobby Petrino
—“It’s always a fun place to play up there in Papa John’s Stadium. But you have to be careful. This is a coach, he makes no bones about it. If he has a chance to put a bunch of points on you, he will. Defensively, if he has a chance to shut you out, he will. He should. That’s the way I would be too.” —Murray State head coach Mitch Stewart
Card Chronicle Prediction: Louisville 66, Murray State 6
Enjoy the distraction.