LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (3-1, 1-0) at NO. 24 WAKE FOREST DEMON DEACONS (4-0)
Game Time: 12:30 p.m.
Location: Truist Field: Winston-Salem, N.C.
Television: ACC Regional Sports Networks
Announcers: Tom Werme (play-by-play), James Bates (analyst) and Lauren Jbara (sideline)
Favorite: Wake Forest by 7
All-Time Series: Louisville leads, 6-2
Last Meeting: Louisville won 45-21 on Dec. 12, 2020 in Louisville
Wake Forest Uniforms:
Louisville Depth Chart:
Wake Forest Depth Chart:
Excitement Level: 8.7
This as excited as I’ve been for a conference game in a long time. As fun as it was to get ready for the Miami game last year, it still felt ... weird. If you win this one, you get to spend the next week daydreaming about some crazy things. That opportunity has me pretty jacked.
Game Attire: Red Heisman Cardinal bird t-shirt
Bringing back the UCF game vibes.
Pregame Meal: Bagel sandwich, coffee
It’s a late breakfast pregame. I don’t do lunch.
Bold Prediction: Louisville intercepts multiple passes
These have gotten progressively worse since the start of the season. We need something good to happen this week.
Justin Marshall TD Alert Level: Rose Dust (fair)
Step up from last week.
Predicted Star of the Game: Kei’Trel Clark
Let’s get the All-American hype really rolling.
About Wake Forest:
Dave Clawson has been leading the Wake Forest football program for the better part of a decade now and even though he consistently gets them to bowl games, people are still surprised when he has his team playing well. 2021 has been no different as his 4-0 team has cruised through the first part of their schedule and Clawson has his team at the top of the ACC.
The offense is led by veteran Quarterback Sam Hartman. Hartman is a great fit for Wake’s scheme as he can run well enough that you have to respect him and he is accurate on intermediate throws. Hartman has also improved over the last few years with his deep ball. He has been able to hit on a few throws down the field this year that had really nice placement. Wake’s offense has been efficient this year in part to Hartman’s mastery of the offense in his fourth season.
While Kenneth Walker is leading the country in rushing for Michigan State, Christian Beal-Smith has held his own in his absence. Wake had a nice two-headed monster last season before Walker opted out but Beal-Smith has done well this year to take on the full role. “CBS” is a compact runner with a little wiggle to him when he’s out in the open field. Virginia was able to contain him last week and Louisville handled him fairly well last season. UofL will have to do the same again.
Of all the programs in the ACC you wouldn’t expect Wake to be one that reloads at Wide Receiver each year but that’s been the case over the last few years. A.T. Perry is the newest member of the club for Wake as he has already surpassed his 2020 total catches, yards, and touchdowns. Perry is 6-5/206 and he has the ability to get behind a defense. Louisville will have to have a plan to contain him and his big play ability.
Jaquarii Robinson is the other big factor at Wide Receiver. He led the team in catches and yards last season and he has great ability after the catch. He is also the main target in Wake’s PA/RPO game where they run a lot of slants to the right side of the field. UofL has been killed by those plays for as long as I can remember and I can promise you Clawson remembers that. Taylor Morin is another guy to keep an eye on in the slot.
Wake’s Offensive Line is solid as usual and they block what wake likes to do very well. The offense still relies on their read-option and RPO long mesh and the line does well to sustain blocks as well as getting push to create running lanes for the backs. They haven’t allowed many negative plays this year with FSU accounting for most of them. One has to wonder, however, if the schedule has been friendly to this offense.
Wake Forest has been blessed to have some great Defensive Coordinators over the last handful of years but they have had a hard time hanging on to those guys. Now in the third year of Lyle Hemphill’s tenure running the defense, it feels like they finally have all the guys to fit his system and the defense is back to causing havoc up front and get takeaways in the back end.
Wake doesn’t have a key player up front like they have in the past but they really seem to have a better overall group this year. Rondell Bothroyd has taken over for Boogie Basham at Defensive End and he is off to a good start to the season with 3.5 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. Ja’Corey Johns has matching statistics on the opposite side of the line from Bothroyd and Luiji Vilain has 3.5 sacks on the year. Wake has guys up front that can get after the Quarterback and Louisville will have to account for them.
The key player up front is Miles Fox as he makes it hard to run the football up the middle. Fox does a good job of being disruptive and he gives the Linebackers space to make plays. Fox had a big game against UofL last year with 4 tackles for loss but the Cards adjusted and had a lot of success running the ball up the middle in the second half. Something to keep an eye on this year is how Louisville goes about handling things if Fox is disruptive again.
The group of Linebackers for Wake are all very experienced and they can run well. Luke Masterson is a former Safety who has found a home in the box over the last couple of years. He plays alongside Ryan Smenda who is a very speedy guy in the middle of this defense. This group plays very aggressively and they can run well and get to the ball very quickly. UofL may have some success with the misdirection and speed sweep plays that we haven’t seen as much this season.
I’ve been really impressed with the Wake secondary. Jasir Taylor is a stud at one corner spot and Caelen Carson is one of the national leaders in passes defended so far this year. These guys play the ball very well and they are also sticky in coverage. Wake will run some man and some zone so it will be important for Malik Cunningham to see the coverage before the snap so that he doesn’t give these guys an easy one.
Wake has some solid experience at Safety as well with Nasir Greer back for his 15th season. Greer is paired up with Coby Davis who has also played some Nickel this season with Nick Anderson replacing him deep. Anderson made waves last year as a walk-on freshman when he had 3 interceptions against Virginia Tech. He was hampered by an injury early but Wake is able to get their five best Defensive Backs on the field now.
—Under Scott Satterfield, Louisville is 12-0 when winning the turnover battle, and just 1-12 when losing it.
—Louisville is 3-1 against Wake Forest in games played outside of Cardinal Stadium. The Cards are 2-1 in Winston-Salem, and also defeated the Demon Deacons at the 2007 Orange Bowl in Miami.
—Louisville is 4-35-1 all-time in road games against top 25 opponents. Its last such win came in 2019 when the Cards upset then-No. 19 Wake Forest.
—All four of Louisville’s road wins over top 25 teams have come when the Cardinals have themselves been unranked.
—Wake Forest is off to a 4-0 start for the fourth time in the last six years.
—The Demon Deacons are outscoring their opponents 99-29 in the first half of games so far this season.
—Offensively, Louisville ranks in the top 10 in the following categories: yards per game-264.5 (sixth), yards-1,058 (sixth), and efficiency-134.7 (ninth).
—The Demon Deacon defense forced six turnovers in its victory (three fumbles and three interceptions) over Florida State, the most in the Dave Clawson era. The six turnovers forced are the most forced by a FBS team in a single game this season. Wake’s total of 11 turnovers this season puts them at No. 5 in the nation.
—Under Scott Satterfield, Louisville is just 3-8 in true road games. The Cards had lost six straight away from home before last week’s 31-23 win at Florida State.
—In eight seasons as a head coach, Scott Satterfield’s teams are 55-5 when scoring 30 or more points. Louisville is 14-2 in such games under Satterfield, with the two losses coming last season against Miami and Virginia Tech.
—Wake Forest kicker Nick Sciba is on his way to becoming the most accurate kicker in NCAA history. During his time at Wake Forest, he is 64-of-71 (.901), the best mark for any kicker in NCAA and ACC history (min. 50 att).
—Louisville is looking for its first four game winning streak since the 2016 season.
—The Cardinals are also looking to win back-to-back ACC road games for the first time since that 2016 campaign.
—Louisville is 30-29 in league games since joining the ACC in 2014.
—U of L QB Malik Cunningham is the team’s leading rusher with 263 yards on the season, good for fifth in the ACC. He also ranks seventh in the conference with 998 passing yards.
—From 2017-20, Wake Forest has produced the three highest scoring seasons in school history with each club scoring better. In 2021, the Deacs have scored 155 combined points this season, the most in school history through the first four games.
—Louisville is 210-90-5 all-time during the month of October, with Scott Satterfield posting a 4-4 mark in his first three seasons during the calendar’s 10th month.
—Malik Cunningham is the first player in Louisville history to rush for at least five touchdowns in four separate seasons.
—Wake Forest currently ranks second in the ACC and 20th in the country in fewest total penalties (19), and third in the conference fewest penalty yards (178).
—Wake Forest has scored first in 29 of its last 39 games.
—Louisville is 0-6 under Scott Satterfield when being held to 21 points or fewer.
—Louisville has scored in 13 of its 14 trips to the Red Zone so far this season, with 11 of those scores being touchdowns.
—Louisville will honor former head coach Howard Schnellenberger, who died on March 27, with a helmet sticker that will be worn for the entirety of the 2021 season.
—Wake Forest is looking for a 3-0 start in ACC play for just the second time in program history.
—Wake Forest sports the third-best scoring offense in the ACC at 38.8 points per game.
—Louisville is 12-1 under Scott Satterfield when leading at halftime, and 14-1 when leading at the end of the 3rd quarter.
—Louisville is 0-12 under Satterfield when trailing at the end of the 3rd quarter.
—Louisville kicker James Turner has made 11 consecutive field goals, the fourth longest streak of consecutive made field goals in U of L history. For his career, Turner is 16-for-16 on field goal attempts from less than 50 yards out. Turner’s only two career misses both came from 52 yards away.
—Louisville is currently riding a consecutive game scoring streak that spans 265 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 11th-longest nationally.
—Louisville is 193-14 all-time when scoring 35 or more points in a game. The Cards are also 6-120 all-time when allowing opponents to score 40 or more points.
—“We’ve been here before. We’ve been 4-0 four out of the last six years. How do you want to finish? I believe this team is capable of finishing stronger than the ’16, ’17 or ’19 team. But you have to prove it week to week on the field.” —Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson
—”I think every year Wake Forest is one of the most well coached teams that we play. Coach Clawson and his staff do a great job; I have been battling against Coach Clawson for many years, all the way back when he was at Richmond and he came to Appalachian State and played us in the playoffs, then he was a Bowling Green while I was at Toledo. I have a lot of respect for him and what he does with his program. He always gets a lot out of his players, and they are playing at a high level right now in all three phases.” —Scott Satterfield
—“That wasn’t our goal to get ranked. We’ve got bigger goals than that.” —Wake Forest offensive lineman Michael Jurgens
—“It begins with the quarterback, Malik Cunningham. I think he’s become one of the premiere quarterbacks in the ACC and in all of college football. He’s become a really good, accurate passer. He’s always been able to beat you with his feet, and he’s their leading rusher. But he also does a great job in their drop back game and their play action game. Getting him on the boot game is really dangerous.” —Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson
—”There is a lot of momentum down there, they are undefeated and ranked this week in the top-25. It is similar to what happened two years ago when went down there, they were ranked team and it was a great football game. We played this team in our last game last year so there is a lot of familiarity because it is a lot of the same players from game that are contributing now. It should be a great matchup; we are looking forward to heading down there and playing in a good environment at 12:30.” —Scott Satterfield
Card Chronicle Prediction: Wake Forest 30, Louisville 27