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Louisville vs. Miami game preview, prediction, storylines

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The first game of the 2020 college football season involving two ranked teams goes down Saturday night at Cardinal Stadium.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 02 Notre Dame at Louisville Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

NO. 18 LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (1-0, 0-0) vs. NO. 17 MIAMI HURRICANES (1-0, 0-0)

Game Time: 7:30 p.m.

Location: Cardinal Stadium: Louisville, Ky.

Television: ABC/fuboTV

Announcers: Chris Fowler (play-by-play), Kirk Herbstreit (analyst) and Maria Taylor (sideline)

Favorite: Louisville by 2.5

All-Time Series: Miami leads, 10-3-1

Last Meeting: Miami won, 52-27 on Nov. 9, 2019 in Miami

Series History:

Statistics:

Louisville Uniforms:

Miami Uniforms:

Louisville Depth Chart:

Miami Depth Chart:

Relevant Videos:

About Miami

via Keith Wynne

OFFENSE

Manny Diaz took over the Miami program last season and put his team in position to exceed expectations after a big win over Louisville late in the season. However, his team went on to lose the last three games which included being shutout in their bowl game by Louisiana Tech. Diaz’s offense was nowhere near what it should have been and that led to a change at Offensive Coordinator. Rhett Lashlee has come in to utilize all of the speed and athleticism Miami has and after one game, there seems to be some improvement.

The biggest transfer of the off season was arguably D’Eriq King leaving Houston for Miami. King is an outstanding athlete who has shown an ability to be consistent from an accuracy standpoint. In 2018, King finished the season with 50 total touchdowns while completing 63.5% of his passes. He’s the real deal and he’s played well in his career against Power Five competition.

Louisville will have to use a spy against King as he is always a threat to take off and run. Miami also did a good job with designed runs for him on the outside and up the middle. It’s really hard to defend a guy who has the arm strength to make all the throws and great running ability. Miami seems to have a goal of exploiting all that he can do in their offense.

Miami ran the ball really well against UAB and they used a few different backs. Cam’Ron Harris had a big game with 134 yards though 66 of them came on one long run. Harris had a strong showing in the game last year with 78 yards on 8 carries and he has a tendency to hit big runs. Louisville will need to keep Miami’s backs in check to force King to beat them with his arm.

The Canes will also play two freshmen in the backfield at times this weekend. Jaylan Knighton is a smaller back with great speed and quickness. He is a threat to break a long run at any time and will make guys miss if he gets into space. Donald Chaney averaged 6.5 yards per carry last week. He is a bigger back at 210 pounds but has good speed as well. Miami ran these guys a lot against UAB and I expect them to try to do the same this week.

Miami still has a bunch of talent on the outside but they didn’t really utilize them much last week. Dee Wiggins seems to be the top target as of now with Mike Harley and Mark Pope being the big play guys who can play inside or outside. Pope is a guy that can take a short play and turn it into a big play with his quickness. Louisville will need to keep he and Harley in check as the speed guys.

Wiggins is the more consistent option for the offense while also having the size to make a play on the deep ball. The biggest threat for this offense is Brevin Jordan at Tight End. Jordan has great size as well as outstanding speed for a Tight End. Miami got a couple of nice gains from him last week as he led the team in yards in the game. Louisville didn’t cover the middle of the field all that well against WKU, so they need to identify where Jordan is and make sure he is keyed on.

The Hurricane’s Offensive Line is still pretty green after a year where they just threw young guys out there and let them learn on the job. They’ve been aided by grad transfers but they gave up some negative plays last week as well as a couple of sacks. UAB has a strong defense, so that isn’t something to hang your head over, but if this Louisville defense has improved up front like they appeared to be last week, this Offensive Line has to play better.

DEFENSE

Part of the excitement of the Manny Diaz hire at Miami was his great track record as the Defensive Coordinator. Diaz’s defenses had created a reputation for forcing turnovers and turning those turnovers into big returns and touchdowns. Diaz did it with outstanding Defensive Backs, veteran Linebackers, and not much else. Now Diaz has a great defensive line to put more pressure on Quarterbacks which should lead to more turnovers.

Miami lost their best player to an opt out a couple of months ago and they still have one of the most talented Defensive Line groups in the country. Quincy Roche transferred in from Temple after putting up 19 tackles for loss and 13 sacks last year. He and Jaelan Phillips combine to make up the best Defensive End duo that Louisville will face this season, in my opinion. Roche has great speed off the edge and plays with the type of motor you would expect from a guy who was overlooked as a recruit. Phillips is a former five-star recruit who was the top ranked player in the country in 2017 class.

The key player for this defense, in my opinion is Nesta Jade Silvera at Defensive Tackle. He is a high motor player who is very disruptive. Silvera made multiple plays last week where he didn’t record the stat but he allowed someone else to make the play. Playing inside is all about being disruptive and Silvera creates some real havoc which throws off blocking schemes and makes it easy for Linebackers to run free. He and Jonathan Ford could be a real problem for a line that didn’t do all that well against Western Kentucky last week.

Zach McCloud returns at Linebacker for Miami but the rest of the group is pretty new. McCloud is a veteran who should be a leader for this group as well as a solid play maker. Bradley Jennings Jr. has taken over the role at Inside Linebacker while also making me feel super old. He had a solid first game with 6 tackles and 22 tackles for loss. The question with this group is can they cause havoc like the Linebackers who manned these positions for so long before them. Gilbert Frierson and Keontra Smith are two guys to look out for at the third Linebacker spot. Both are athletic players who can run well.

The secondary has been the key spot for Diaz’s defenses and he has placed a good amount of guys in the NFL during his time there. This might be the first group that didn’t truly impress me, though. They bring back some experience with rotation guys now becoming starters but Al Blades Jr. and DJ Ivey both allowed a handful of catches that you would expect them to break up or at least be in tighter coverage on. Ivey gave up a touchdown catch where he just didn’t even play the ball. Neither of these guys are bad players but you just have an expectation for Miami and they didn’t reach meet it last game.

Bubba Bolden is back from injury and I think he’s the most dynamic player in the secondary. Bolden can play the run well and he has good range. He hasn’t seen the field all that much in college but that he’s the best athlete of the three safeties Miami plays, in my opinion. Amari Carter and Gurvan Hall round out the group and I think it will be interesting to see if Miami leaves either of them on Tutu Atwell or Braden Smith in man coverage. All of these guys can run pretty well but I don’t know that any of them can keep up with Louisville’s speed in the slot.

Excitement Level: 9.4

First game of the college football season involving two ranked teams is going to be played under the lights at Cardinal Stadium on ABC with College GameDay in town. I mean, come on. We are bound by duty to rage all day in whichever fashion we choose.

Game Attire: Grey Heisman bird t-shirt

Bringing it back for week two.

Pregame Meal: Chicken wings

Bringing them back for week two.

Bold Prediction: Micale Cunningham tosses at least two touchdown passes of 40 yards or more.

I think last week set a new record for the earliest a bold prediction has been proven wrong. We can only go up from here.

Justin Marshall TD Alert Level: Red-Violet (decent)

The Alert Level is higher than it probably should be after Marshall was the target on a couple of deep balls in week one. Against a depleted Miami secondary, all it takes is for No. 18 to get loose one time to get us home.

Predicted Star of the Game: Micale Cunningham

This feels like a game where if Cunningham doesn’t light up the scoreboard through the air, we’re going to really be up against it. Miami’s secondary is thin and they’re going to be keyed on the run. No. 3 needs to keep spinning it.

Notable:

—Louisville is 3-3 all-time in ACC openers, including 1-1 at home.

—Miami is 9-7 all-time in ACC openers.

—This is the sixth time in the last seven years that the Hurricanes’ ACC opener has been a road game.

—In eight seasons as a head coach, Scott Satterfield’s teams are 49-3 when scoring 30 or more points. Louisville scored at least 30 points seven times in Satterfield’s first season, and scored 35 in its season-opener against Western Kentucky last week.

—Louisville once again plans to physically distance approximately 12,000 spectators and implement other coronavirus protocols. Two pregame rituals are out with tailgating prohibited in the parking lots and the team’s Card March into the stadium discontinued.

—Miami QB D’Eriq King carries an FBS-record 16-game streak of at least one rushing TD and one passing TD into Saturday’s game.

—Louisville QB Micale Cunningham led the country in passing yards per completion last season, averaging 18.4 yards per catch. The redshirt junior quarterback also topped the country with six completed passes of over 70 yards.

—Cunningham is the 42nd Louisville player to rush for 1,000 yards in his college career. He is the second quarterback to hit the mark, joining Lamar Jackson.

—Dating back to 2005, Miami is 3-23 away from home vs. ranked teams. The three wins came vs West Virginia in 2016 Russell Athletic Bowl, at Duke in 2015, and at Florida State in 2009. Neither Duke nor FSU ended the season ranked.

—A season ago, Louisville became the second team in ACC history to go 0-8 in league play one season and 5-3 the very next year. The turnaround was the second-largest in U of L football history. The Cards went 7-5 in John L. Smith’s first year of 1998 after going just 1-10 the year before.

—Miami is 4-2 all-time against Louisville in games played in Louisville.

—This will be College GameDay’s third visit to Louisville, and it comes nearly four years to the day of the show’s first visit to Louisville (September 17, 2016).

—Louisville is 1-1 in games with College GameDay in town, and 1-2 overall when playing in the day’s featured game.

—ESPN’s Lee Corso picked Louisville in both previous instances the show was in Louisville, going 1-1 with those picks. Corso correctly picked Clemson to defeat U of L when the Cardinals visited the Tigers in 2016.

—This is the 22nd time a GameDay site has featured a game involving Miami. The Hurricanes are 13-8 in those games, including 6-4 on the road.

—Corso has picked Miami seven times on GameDay, and is 5-2 in those games.

—Corso hasn’t put on Miami headgear since Sept. 4, 2006 when he incorrectly picked the Hurricanes to beat Florida State.

—Corso has picked against the Canes each of the last five times the show has been at a game involving Miami, and he’s been correct four of those times.

—This is just the seventh time GameDay has been at a game featuring two ranked teams that were both ranked outside the Top 15.

—Scott Satterfield is 0-2 all-time as a head coach in games against Miami.

—Louisville enters Saturday’s game ranked in the AP Top 25 poll for the first time since Oct. 1, 2017.

—Satterfield is 3-9 as a head coach against ranked opponents, including 1-2 while at Louisville.

—Since joining the ACC in 2014, Louisville 7-5 against Coastal Division opponents. The Hurricanes typically play in the Coastal, but the ACC is not separating teams by divisions in 2020.

—Miami’s 337 yards on the ground against UAB last week were its second-most against an FBS opponent since joining the ACC in 2004, and its most since its 2014 game at Virginia Tech.

—Louisville is 79-26 all-time when playing as a team ranked in the current AP Top 25 poll.

—The Cardinals are 8-12 all-time in games where both teams are ranked, and 3-1 in such games played at home. U of L is 3-8 all-time in regular season games where both teams are ranked.

—Louisville is 17-57-1 against ranked opponents overall.

—Louisville went 7-0 last season when winning the turnover battle, and was just 1-5 when losing it. The Cards won the turnover battle 2-1 in last week’s win over Western Kentucky.

—Louisville is currently riding a consecutive game scoring streak that spans 251 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 nationally.

—Louisville is 190-13 all-time when scoring 35 or more points in a game. The Cards are also 6-116 all-time when allowing opponents to score 40 or more points.

Quotable:

—“Yeah, it’s pretty cool. You think about when I got hired here where we were at program-wise and what everybody wrote about us and what everybody thought about us nationally. To come about a year and a half later we’re ranked and College GameDay is going to be here. I mean, that’s pretty incredible.” —Scott Satterfield

“It’s very exciting. This is one of the reasons I came here — to play in big games like this, Saturday night college football.” —Miami QB D’Eriq King

—“It’s always a pleasure to have College GameDay here. It’s a big game regardless. This is a team that we didn’t do too well against last year. ... They’re a good team with good athletes, and we definitely need to get this one.” —Dorian Etheridge

—“Anytime a national spotlight is on you, the world is looking at you to see what type of team you have. We’re excited about the challenge, but we’re also excited about the opportunity for the world to be able to see us play on a national stage.” —Bryan Brown

—“The biggest difference from watching them play on Saturday night is that their defense made a great transformation. I think this is the first time in five years that Louisville has had a defensive coordinator in back-to-back years. Their kids are a lot more confident and playing aggressively. They are much more multiple than they were a year ago. They tackled outstanding for an opener. The score was a little bit misleading because Western Kentucky benefited from beneficial field position. Our guys will be very excited to play Louisville on a Saturday night week one in the conference.” —Miami head coach Manny Diaz

—“We call it ‘ring’ games around here. It’s a good game and those guys put it on us last year. They are coming to our house and we’re looking to defend our house.” —Louisville QB Micale Cunningham

—“It’s like a revenge game for us. If we stick together and play together, we can dominate and this year should be a great year for us—a great season.” —Tabarius Peterson

—“We’ll have our hands full. I think this week presents a different challenge — where UAB, it was probably new to them schematically to what they showed the previous year, so they haven’t had as many at-bats as a team like Louisville, who’s done this for a couple of years now.” —Miami defensive coordinator Blake Baker

—“Obviously you still have that lingering in your mind from last year. That’s kind of something that people still talk about is last year how the game kind of ran away from us. So this year we kind of feel motivated to play better and just have a better game overall.” —Cole Bentley

—“They are extremely talented. I don’t think that you can look anywhere on their depth chart and point out somebody and say ‘here’s where we’re going to try to attack’.” —Dwayne Ledford

—“We are a different team this year, they are a different team. It is a new year and we have to do a great job this week in our preparation and preparing for what they are going to give us.” —Scott Satterfield

—“Going on the road to Louisville, they were predicted to be the second best team in the Atlantic before we were lumped into one big pile. If you were playing fantasy football in the ACC, their combination of quarterback, running back and wide receiver—them, Clemson, and North Carolina—I would think be in the top three in terms of skill positions and explosion on offense. They are probably the best outside zone running team in America.” —Miami head coach Manny Diaz

—“Everything they do, they do well. As a defense, you’ve got to be able to pride yourself on stopping the run first. If you don’t stop the run, they don’t have to do anything else. I’m sure they will, but they won’t have to do anything else.” —Miami linebacker Zach McCloud

—“Tutu Atwell is as dynamic of a player as we’ll see. Obviously, we got beat by him a couple of times last year, and we weren’t the only team, when you look at his body of work. Dynamic with the ball in his hands with receptions or with the jet sweeps, but he’s fast. He’s really, really fast, and you can’t coach speed, so we’ll have to know where he’s at all times.” —Miami defensive coordinator Blake Baker

—“We feel like we want to dominate the ACC and that’s something that people still talk about, how that game just ran away from us. This year, we just feel motivated to play better and have a better game overall.” —Cole Bentley

Card Chronicle Prediction: Miami 38, Louisville 35

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Go Cards.