LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (3-6, 2-6) at BOSTON COLLEGE EAGLES (5-4, 4-4)
Game Time: 4 p.m.
Location: Alumni Stadium: Boston, Mass.
Television: ACC Network
Announcers: Chris Cotter (play-by-play), Mark Herzlich (analyst), and Eric Wood (analyst)
Favorite: Boston College by 1
All-Time Series: Louisville leads, 7-5
Last Meeting: Louisville won 41-39 on Oct. 5, 2019 in Louisville
Louisville Depth Chart:
About Boston College
The days of Boston College running the ball down your throat and boring you to death with their passing game are over. Jeff Hafley took over a Boston College program known for a strong running game and brought in a passing attack that has utilized the speed available at the skill positions. But, now they’re struggling to run the football. Up is down at BC and it’s very weird to see.
Hafley got some good fortune in year one when Phil Jurkovec not only decided to transfer in from Notre Dame but he also received a waiver to play immediately. Jurkovec is a former 4-star recruit who felt that he deserved a chance to beat out Ian Book but never received that chance. In his time so far at BC, he has made a solid argument that he at least deserved that shot. Jurkovec is slinging the ball around in this pass-heavy offense and he’s making a lot of very nice throws while protecting the football well.
BC has done a good job of utilizing all of Jurkovec’s skills in their new offense. He isn’t a runner but he is mobile enough that you don’t have to protect him too much. That allows them to utilize their Tight Ends and Running Backs in the passing game. Jurkovec does well to find those guys in the short passing game to sustain drives. He also has good arm strength and accuracy down the field. He’s been good this year at hitting his speedy receivers on deep crosses and post routes. While he’s had some consistency issues, Jurkovec has been the reason this offense has been able to put up points this year.
The running game for BC has been a struggle all season for some reason. AJ Dillon has moved on the the Green Bay Packers but it was expected that David Bailey would be able to build off of his 800+ yard season from last year. That hasn’t happened as Bailey is averaging under 4 yards per carry and the offense has only run for 100+ yards twice this year. It’s such a flip from what we’ve seen from this program recently. Bailey and Travis Levy did have a strong game running the ball two games ago against Syracuse, so the ability is still there if Louisville doesn’t show up to play.
The top player in this offense, in my opinion, is Zay Flowers. He is an excellent slot receiver with really good speed and elusiveness. He is the biggest beneficiary of the new staff as he is now used all over the field as opposed to being an option for jet sweeps. Flowers can take the top off of a defense and the scheme does a good job of getting him in advantageous matchups. When you don’t know where he’s going to be, it makes it hard to design coverages to stop him. It also helps BC that they have Jaelen Gill and CJ Lewis to take the pressure off of him. Both of those guys are deep threats as well as guys who can get you first downs. This is a strong group for this offense.
The other key player on the offense is Hunter Long at Tight End. Long leads the nation in yards and catches by a Tight End and he routinely gets 10+ targets a game. Long has good speed which helps him get open against Linebackers and he can run well after the catch. As explosive as Zay Flowers is, Long is the guy that worries me the most as Louisville has had issues defending the middle of the field at times.
The BC Offensive Line has been a strong point for the offense for years. That just isn’t the case this season. They returned four starters but either the scheme or the shuffling of positions has the line playing much more poorly than anyone could have expected. They have given up more sacks but they are throwing the ball a lot more. The big change to me is the amount of negative runs they’ve allowed. This team used to push people around up front but they’ve been beaten to the punch a lot this year which is really surprising to me. UofL has to take advantage with this line struggling to block up the run game.
Boston College has seen their defense fall off as a program since Don Brown left the staff. But, they have always been respectable with some key players who led a solid group that could help them win games. Jeff Hafley and his staff have inherited a team that just doesn’t have the talent up front to get their scheme on track the way they want. While they’re not where they want to be, they have to be happy with their efforts in the game where they match up well from a talent standpoint.
The Eagles haven’t been great up front since Zach Allen left for the NFL a couple of years ago. They really struggled getting after the passer last year and this season has seen some of the same issues from their front four guys. Marcus Valdez is a talented player on the edge but he hasn’t had the success as a pass rusher that I expected, personally. Maximillian Roberts has 4.5 sacks on the season but this BC defense needs a more consistent pass rush from their front four.
The Linebackers are the strength of the defense as Boston College has the nation’s top two tacklers this season. Isaiah McDuffie leads the country with 87 tackles while Max Richardson is right behind him at 85. These guys are two of the best in the ACC and both of them can run really well. The Eagles are getting a bunch of tackles and a handful of sacks from them and they will absolutely be a problem for Louisville this weekend. These guys will exploit the zone scheme by fitting the running lanes well while also not missing many tackles. This combo makes for the most problematic situation for Louisville’s offense this year.
BC is solid at Cornerback with Brandon Sebastian holding down one side of the field. Sebastian has 9 PBUs this year to go with an interception. That puts him in a tie with Tre Clark at the top of the ACC in passes defended. While Sebastian is a stud on his side, the Eagles haven’t been as consistent on the other side of the field. Jason Matrie, Elijah Jones, and Josh DeBerry have all played solid but not at the level of Sebastian. I’ve been wanting Louisville to challenge opposing corners but I wouldn’t say this is the game they should start doing that.
Safety is a solid position for the Eagles with Deon Jones and Jahmin Muse playing well so far this season. Jones is a transfer from Maryland that filled a big need this offseason and allows Mike Palmer to be used for depth. Jones was recruited as a corner in high school but the few times I’ve seen him in coverage he seemed like he struggled a bit. He and Muse could give UofL an opportunity as targets in the pass game. But if the Linebackers are playing at their usual high level, these guys will get to sit deep in coverage which makes it hard.
Excitement Level: 3.0
It’s a Louisville football game and I will be watching it.
Game Attire: Red Louisville Football sweatshirt
Let’s turn it into a win streak.
Pregame Meal: No idea. Leftovers?
Make Thanksgiving last as long as you can.
Bold Prediction: Louisville blocks a field goal or punt
At long last, our super esoteric niche nightmare is over. The bold prediction last week was that Louisville would win by four scores or more. The Cards won by 30.
Justin Marshall TD Alert Level: Celestial Blue (Still Low)
The JMTAL, however, has not found the confidence the bold prediction section has.
Predicted Star of the Game: Dez Fitzpatrick
We’re long overdue for at least one more Dez game.
—Louisville is a perfect 2-0 in games against ACC Atlantic Division opponents so far this season. The quest for perfection continues today.
—Louisville is looking to snap a four game losing streak in ACC road games. The Cards haven’t beaten a conference opponent on the road since a 34-20 win at NC State on Nov. 16, 2019.
—Louisville ranks ninth nationally against the pass, yielding 178.9 yards per game, which also leads the ACC. Opponents have only thrown for only 300 yards once (325, Miami), and the Cardinals are allowing an average of 135.6 yards over the last five contests.
—With a win Saturday, BC would win its fifth ACC game in a season for the first time since 2009.
—Under Scott Satterfield, Louisville is 9-0 when winning the turnover battle, and just 1-10 when losing it. The Cards won the turnover battle for the first time this season last week against Syracuse.
—Louisville is 3-3 in games against Boston College at Alumni Stadium.
—In eight seasons as a head coach, Scott Satterfield’s teams are 51-5 when scoring 30 or more points. Louisville is 10-2 in such games under Satterfield, with the two losses coming earlier this season against Miami and Virginia Tech.
—Boston College QB Phil Jurkovec is ninth nationally and second in the ACC with 2,355 passing yards. He is 11th in Boston College single-season history in passing yards after just nine games.
—Boston College’s 17 forced turnovers are the second-most in the FBS.
—Louisville’s 18 turnovers are the fourth-most in the FBS.
—Louisville is 0-6 under Scott Satterfield when being held to 21 points or fewer.
—Louisville is 11-17 in ACC road games since joining the conference in 2014.
—Louisville is currently riding a consecutive game scoring streak that spans 259 games dating back to a 31-0 loss to Florida State during the 2000 season. The streak ranks as the second longest in the ACC behind only Virginia Tech, and the 12th-longest in the country.
—Louisville is 191-14 all-time when scoring 35 or more points in a game. The Cards are also 6-119 all-time when allowing opponents to score 40 or more points.
—“When you first turn the film on, very aggressive defense. They play hard, they play fast. No. 55 and No. 14 are two linebackers I think that make the most plays in their defense. Their defensive line is active, not overly huge up front but they make a lot of movement, they really utilize their hands well, and their speed and their quickness. They free up those two linebackers 55 and 14, and I think this year compared to last year, they play a lot more man in the back end. They’re trying to lock up guys, putting pressure on quarterbacks, getting the ball out of his hands quickly. And it’s really shown. You go back to last year, we had a pretty good day offensively against them. On defense, I think it’s a completely different defense this year. A lot of the same players, but the scheme and the way they’re approaching it is a lot different. I think that’s why they’ve had a huge improvement this year.” —Scott Satterfield
—“That quarterback is a dynamic athlete. He’s completed 63 percent of his passes, but he’s a threat to run. They are a wide zone and outside zone team, and they run a lot of boots off of (motion), which for (Cunningham), if it’s not there, he’s going to take off. You’re going to need some speed to catch him.” —Boston College head coach Jeff Hafley
—“Let’s just be happy we’re playing ball, and we’re fortunate to play. As far as our bye week went, I gave our older guys time to rest and a lot of time off. They needed rest. Truthfully, I looked around on Saturday, and I wasn’t sure if any other team played nine straight (games). I saw a team with a 3-0 record and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we’ve played nine games and these guys are in week three.’” —Boston College head coach Jeff Hafley
—“Yeah, it’s not ideal. We changed the schedule three times last week I think, from playing on Friday night at Boston College, to playing Wake Forest on Saturday, and now playing Boston College on a Saturday, and Wake gets kicked all the way back to December 19th. It is certainly not ideal to have a three-week layoff. I don’t really fully understand how and why we got to this point, but obviously I had no control over that, so it is what it is.” —Scott Satterfield
Card Chronicle Prediction: Boston College 30, Louisville 24