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Friday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

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—Spread check: Louisville by 12.

—Louisville football has named QB Micale Cunningham, WR Dez Fitzpatrick, tight end Marshon Ford and linebackers CJ Avery and Dorian Etheridge as its team captains for the 2020 season.

—Cards are back.

—The CJ’s Cameron Teague Robinson has a great story on the brotherly relationship between the dynamic backfield duo of Javian Hawkins and Hassan Hall.

—Bruce Feldman of The Athletic has WKU over Louisville as his upset special of the weekend.

Upset Special: Western Kentucky (+11.5) at Louisville, 8 p.m. ET Saturday, ACC

I originally picked Louisville to win a close one here, but looking at the board this week, this was the closest game I see to an upset because I’m that much of a believer in the Tyson Helton’s Hilltoppers. The Cards are going to get a stiff challenge. New WKU QB Tyrell Pigrome played in plenty of big games in his time at Maryland. (He played a big role in the Terps’ upset at Texas in 2017.) This is also a really fast and talented Western Kentucky defense, led by standout DE DeAngelo Malone. I think WKU gives the Cardinals all they can handle. Western Kentucky 23, Louisville 20

—The Miami Hurricane recaps the program’s first experience of playing football in a pandemic.

—Underdog Dynasty previews Louisville-WKU and likes the Cards by 11.

—Jude Redfield must fall.

—St. X and Trinity both get their football seasons underway tonight, but neither head coach is certain that they should be playing.

—Matt McGavic of SI looks at the notable storylines heading into Louisville vs. Western Kentucky.

Pound the Rock

Running back Gaej Walker is back for another shot at the Cardinals, and he’s someone that the Louisville defense will have to contain. The 6-foot-0, 195-pound redshirt senior from Tampa, Fla. rushed for 1,208 yards and eight touchdowns a season ago.

“He does a really good job of getting downhill when he needs to get downhill, but he’s shifty as well,” defensive coordinator Bryan Brown said. “He can stick a foot in the ground and get north & south really really quickly. He’s good in protection. Overall, he’s a really good athlete.”

Walker only rushed for 41 yards last season against the Cards, but four of his five starting offensive linemen are back to create lanes for him. He was also just three games into becoming a full-time running back, as he had previously been exclusively a defensive back in college.

“That kid has groomed himself into a really good running back,” Brown said. “To be able to see that, that’s just really impressive to me within itself and learning the offense.”

—Jody Demling and Michael McCammon over at Cardinal Authority both like Louisville over WKU fairly comfortably.

—North Carolina has a ton of preseason hype, and most of it revolves around QB Sam Howell.

—The U of L football team will be wearing two decals on its helmets this season, one in support of Black Lives Matter (with the old English “L”) represented, and another to honor their fallen teammate, Dexter Rentz Jr.

—The Louisville men’s basketball team released a video Thursday night also voicing their support for change.

—Isaiah Hayes is “beyond thankful” to be playing football in 2020.

—Big Red Louie identifies four Western Kentucky players to keep an eye on Saturday night.

—Javian Hawkins is about to rush for 20,000 yards in his college career.

—Louisville sits at No. 4 in Streaking the Lawn’s (Virginia) initial ACC power rankings for 2020.

—U of L has released its updated COVID-19 testing numbers:

Over the past week, the University of Louisville Athletics’ COVID-19 testing program has administered 697 tests to student-athletes, coaches and staff with three positive tests from that group. Since student-athletes began returning to campus for voluntary activities on June 2, a total of 2,494 tests have been administered with 93 positive test results.

—This was supposed to be Iowa vs. Iowa State week, but it was (obviously) postponed by a pandemic for the first time since 1918. The story of that cancelation and the story of this one are eerily similar.

—Myisha’s star continues to shine brighter in 2020.

—Heat Check CBB names David Johnson as one of its breakout sophomores for the upcoming college hoops season.

—A quick word of thanks: The CC Podcast hit 350,000 total downloads today on just 34 episodes. That’s pretty remarkable, especially considering *gestures vaguely at everything.*

You all are the best.

—It feels real now.

—Bellarmine announced a program today where if you have a 3.6 (unweighted) GPA and pledge to live on campus for 4 years, it will match tuition, room and board for the flagship public university in your state. Pretty cool.

—The ACCDN believes (video) Louisville is lurking.

—Athlon thinks the Cards light up the scoreboard tomorrow night.

Final Analysis

Louisville shouldn’t take WKU lightly as the Hilltoppers return a talented, veteran defense that ranked among the nation’s best last season. If the Cardinals play up to their potential, they should win this game easily.

Micale Cunningham and Javian Hawkins will create a ton of problems for WKU’s defense. Then when the Hilltoppers bring extra men in the box, the Cardinals have the ability to throw the ball down the field to different targets, the primary one being Tutu Atwell.

It could be a close game early, but the home team should be able to pull away in the second half.

Prediction: Louisville 48, WKU 27

—The CJ lays out three keys to success for Louisville against WKU.

—The Hilltopper fans over at The Towel Rack have a preview podcast for Saturday night’s game.

—Last night, Miami unveiled new “the crib” touchdown rings.

—The App State uniform reveals are always incredible.

—Louisville defensive coordinator Bryan Brown is “comfortable” with the pieces he has to work with this season.

—And finally, beat WKU.