LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (2-4, 0-3) AT BOSTON COLLEGE EAGLES (4-2, 1-1)
Game Time: 12:30 p.m.
Location: Alumni Stadium: Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Television: Regional Sports Network — Fox Sports South in Louisville
Announcers: Wes Durham (play-by-play), Jim Bates (analyst), and Rebecca Kaple (sideline)
Favorite: Boston College by 13.5
All-Time Series: Louisville leads 6-4
Last Meeting: Boston College won 45-42 on Oct. 14, 2017 in Louisville
Louisville Depth Chart:
About Boston College:
Boston College is a good example of the difference that a year can make. At this point last year, Boston College was looking at another poor season after a 2-4 start. Fans were calling for Steve Addazio’s head and there was nothing for the team to hang their hat on. Then AJ Dillon had his coming out party against Louisville’s terrible defense. Dillon became the focus of the offense and they went on to end the season at 7-6.
The Eagles had a lot of hype this off season and I was a big believer in that hype because of Anthony Brown at quarterback. Brown impressed me as a redshirt freshman last year and he was a pretty big recruiting win for BC. With an extra year and the team invested in making him the guy going forward, I fully expected him to take that next step forward.
While he hasn’t lit the world on fire so far this year, he did start the season very well and he has played really well against some of the not so great teams on the schedule. He struggled mightily against teams that have competent defenses and the jury is now out on just how much he’s improved. Louisville doesn’t fall into the category of the defenses he has struggled against, so I think that he will be a key factor in how well this offense plays.
AJ Dillon is the star of this team and he’s really one of the top stars in the ACC this season. Dillon missed their game last week against N.C. State with an ankle injury, but between the fact that he was a “game time decision” and how he looked jogging on the sideline after the injury, I think he will play this week. Louisville fans won’t soon forget Dillon’s huge game at Cardinal Stadium last year where he ran for 272 yards and 4 touchdowns.
They don’t make running backs lie Dillon very often. He runs so well between the tackles because of his great size and pure strength, but he can also do everything you want outside of the tackles because he has great feet and he has plenty of speed once he gets to the second level. If he can’t go this week, BC would turn to Ben Glines who ran for 120 yards in the second half against Temple and 90 yards last week against State. He’s no slouch.
I’ve been very impressed with the receivers for the Eagles since last season and I think they’ve done a little better with utilizing them this year. Jeff Smith and Kobay White are two of the fastest receivers that UofL will see this year and they have both improved to become more than just speed guys since getting to BC. Smith is the leading receiver on the team and he is also used pretty often on misdirection plays like jet sweeps and reverses. Smith is a former quarterback who has also thrown a touchdown pass this year.
White is the guy that worries me more because he is a big time athlete on top of being fast. He can go up and make acrobatic catches and he can run after the catch pretty well. Scott Loeffler has been allergic to throwing the ball down the field in some of their most recent games, but I think that will change this week. White will likely get more deep targets this week.
Tommy Sweeney is another player that UofL fans will remember from last season. Once Anthony Brown went down with an injury, BC decided to run the same pass play over and over again and Sweeney was open each time. I personally think that Sweeney is the best tight end in the country and BC uses him in very smart ways. Look for him to have a handful of catches this weekend on misdirection plays.
UofL will face the best offensive line in the ACC. This group does so well protecting Brown as well as opening massive holes in the running game. I’m always impressed how they look like one unit as opposed to five individuals. When teams try to use stunts or twists the line just absorbs them because guys just pass off rushers so well. Louisville is one of the worst teams in the country when it comes to creating negative plays on defense, and I don’t expect that to change at all this week against this great line.
Boston College was once known for being one of the toughest defenses to play in the ACC. That hasn’t been the case this year and it seems to have been trending that way since Don Brown left the staff for Michigan. However, the Eagles have some extremely talented players on their defense that will be playing on Sundays soon, so will definitely be a good challenge for a UofL offense that has some positive momentum going.
The best player on this Eagles defense is defensive end Zach Allen. Allen led all defensive linemen in the country with 100 tackles last year and he finally started to generate some buzz right before this season started. He has the size of a defensive tackle at 6-5/285 but he plays with an insane motor and can get to plays all over the field. He isn’t neccessarly “great” at any one thing but he does everything well and really makes it hard to run to his side of the field.
The rest of the line wasn’t expected to do much this year, but Wyatt Ray ended up having a great game against Wake Forest with 4 sacks. Ray hasn’t done too much outside of that game and BC needs him to be that pass rusher that they had with Harold Landry. Ray Smith is another veteran player that needs to step up for this defense in the middle. The Eagles are allowing just under 4 yards per rush this year.
BC had some rough injury luck at linebacker last year but those injuries made the position very deep this season. Connor Strachan is back in the middle after missing much of last year. He’s one of the better players in the conference and I love the way he runs down plays. Isaiah McDuffie and Max Richardson round out the three man group and both have had very good seasons so far. Richardson got hit with a targeting penalty last week so he will miss the first half. Jon Lamont, who had a pick six in the game last year is another player to keep an eye on.
The secondary for the Eagles has been somewhat of a letdown. They brought back a strong group but they have struggled to stop teams with good passing games. That includes two separate games where they allowed the opposing quarterback to complete 75% of their passes. That bodes well for a Louisville passing attack that looked pretty good over the last two weeks. What doesn’t bode well is the fact that BC is fourth in the country in interceptions. Hamp Cheevers leads the team with three but all four starters in the secondary have pulled one in.
Taj-Amir Torres and Brandon Sebastian are the other two corners we should see this weekend. Torres is not too far behind Cheevers with 7 passes defensed and Sebastian has great size, but is inexperienced. Louisville should be in a position to have a solid day passing the football if they can carry over some of the things they did last week.
One of my favorite players in the conference is safety Lukas Denis. Denis would have tied for the national lead in interceptions last season if his quarterback hadn’t thrown on in their bowl game to Josh Jackson. Denis is an undersized safety but he plays the middle of the field really well and he can cover pretty well, also. He teams up with Will Harris to make up one of the best safety tandems in the conference.
Excitement Level: 3.2
There is no lying in the excitement level. I’m struggling here.
Game Attire: Red long-sleeved Louisville Cardinals shirt, grey U of L sweatpants
Standard watching a road game from home in mid-October attire.
Pregame Meal: No clue
I eat breakfast late, so ... probably breakfast.
Bold Prediction: Steve Addazio makes a ridiculously dumb in-game decision
We’re owed at least one of these. Plus, we’ve hit two of these things in row so let’s keep it rolling.
Rodjay Burns Kick/Punt Touchdown Return Alert Level: Medium Violet (not great)
We were doing better here when the alert level was less optimistic, so this makes me happy.
Predicted Star of the Game: Jawon Pass
The BC secondary has been pretty suspect against capable quarterbacks this season and Puma has shown signs of improvement the last two weeks, so ... it’s time.
—Louisville is looking to avoid its first four game losing streak since the 2008 season. That year, the Cardinals lost their final five games of the regular season.
—Louisville is 0-3 in the ACC for the first time since joining the conference in 2014, and 0-3 to start conference play for the first time since 2009.
—In last season’s matchup, Boston College’s AJ Dillon rushed for 272 yards. That total is the most rushing yards by an opposing player in the history of Louisville football.
—Dillon will reportedly be a game-time decision for Saturday’s game because of an ankle injury. He did not play in the Eagles’ 28-23 loss to NC State last week.
—Louisville is 3-2 all-time in games against Boston College at Alumni Stadium, and 3-1 all-time in games against head coach Steve Addazio.
—Boston College’s 239 points through six games are the second-most in program history in the first six games of a season. Only the Eagles’ Sugar Bowl team of 1940 scored more through six games (240).
—Boston College is tied for 12th nationally and is tied for the ACC lead with 38 plays of 20 yards or more this season.
—Louisville ranks 127th nationally in turnover margin at -10 this season. The Cardinals have turned the ball over 14 times this season, throwing nine interceptions and fumbling five times. Opponents have capitalized by scoring 73 points.
—Boston College, conversely, leads the ACC and ranks 12th nationally in turnover margin. The Eagle defense has intercepted 10 passes.
—Louisville is 5-16-1 against the spread in its last 22 games. In its last six games as an underdog against a team other than Florida State, Louisville is 0-6 ATS, losing by 35, 24, 37, 26, 20 and 11.
—Boston College quarterback Anthony Brown leads the ACC with 13 touchdown passes.
—Louisville is 9-8 in ACC road games.
—Boston Colelge will be celebrating its Homecoming on Saturday. The Eagles will also be wearing Doug Flutie-era 1980s throwback uniforms.
—Bobby Petrino can become the 12th active coach with 120 career wins if Louisville defeats Boston College. He’s 119-52 lifetime, including 77-31 in two stints with the Cardinals.
—Boston College is looking to start a season 4-0 at home for the first time since 2009.
—Louisville is 20-3 under Bobby Petrino when scoring on its first drive, and just 16-19 when failing to do so.
—Louisville is 54-1 all-time and 18-0 under Bobby Petrino when rushing for at least 300 yards.
—Louisville is currently riding a consecutive game scoring streak that spans 231 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 183-12 all-time when scoring 35 or more points in a game. The Cards are also 5-108 all-time when allowing opponents to score 40 or more points.
—“It can’t get any worse than how it is. That’s how I see it. At this point, we’re as down as we’d like to be, this is about as far down as I’ve ever been. So, it’s only up from here. And I think that’s the mindset that everybody on the team has.” —Jaylen Smith
—“Those first six games are over. Obviously, we’d all like to go back and play them over again. But we’ve got to build on what we’ve done offensively these past two weeks.” —Lonnie Galloway
—“People put the tags of geniuses on people. Sometimes when you got erasers like that, it makes a lot of people real smart, because [Lamar] was an eraser. You could have the perfect defense called, and he can go 90 on you.” —Boston College head coach Steve Addazio
—“Obviously, everyone in the league is happy Lamar is not there anymore.” —Boston College LB Conor Strachan
—”A lot of slow people.” —TuTu Atwell on what he sees from the Boston College defense
—“Offensively we’ve been improving, we’ve been correcting things and we’ve gotten a lot better. Particularly, at the quarterback position. He’s executed. He’s thrown the ball for the type of percentage that you would like, taking care of the ball. His decision making has been a lot better. So, there’s no question that we’re going to continue to get better.” —Bobby Petrino
—“It’s one game at a time. Two years ago at this point, we were 5-1, now we’re 2-4. But it’s the same sense of urgency. Three years ago, my freshman year, we were 2-4. And it’s one game at a time. Because once you start to overlook games or try to get it all back, it’s like hitting a five-run home run in baseball, it’s not possible.” —Jaylen Smith
Card Chronicle Prediction: Boston College 34, Louisville 30
There’s no rational reason to believe that Louisville’s going to play a competitive, competent four quarter game this afternoon, but I have a strange feeling that’s exactly what’s going to happen. Unfortunately, I can’t go so far as to predict the upset though.
Once again, here’s hoping I’m wrong.