LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (4-3, 2-2) at NC STATE WOLFPACK (5-2, 2-1)
Game Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Carter-Finley Stadium: Raleigh, N.C.
Television: ACC Network
Announcers: Wes Durham (play-by-play), Roddy Jones (analyst) and Taylor Davis (sideline)
Favorite: NC State by 6.5
All-Time Series: Louisville leads, 7-3
Last Meeting: Louisville won, 34-20, on Nov. 16, 2019 in Raleigh
Louisville Depth Chart:
Excitement Level: 7.1
This would be a bit closer to 8 if I’d slept more than 6 hours over the last four days. Still, this is the type of potential victory could put Louisville in a position to finish with the type of season that every Cardinal fan could refer to as successful.
Game Attire: Red Louisville football sweatshirt
Let’s keep it rolling.
Pregame Meal: Whatever people bring us
I am at your mercy, family members.
Bold Prediction: Louisville successfully fakes a punt
We’re inching closer to getting one of these right. I can feel it.
Justin Marshall TD Alert Level: Amethyst (slightly above average)
Don’t ask the Alert Level to explain itself.
Predicted Star of the Game: Malik Cunningham
Let’s keep this terrific season rolling, 3.
About NC State:
Louisville is coming off of their best defensive performance of the year with hopes to have a similar performance against NC State. The Wolfpack has an offense that has some similarities to Boston College but they have a lot more playmakers and flexibility. Dave Doeren has a veteran Quarterback and a deep Running back room to rely on and his offensive staff does a great job of utilizing their talent.
The offense starts at Quarterback Devin Leary. He is a veteran leader with a strong history of being accurate and safe with the ball. Leary has solid arm strength and really does a good job on intermediate throws. He’s exactly what this offense needs as they don’t have a lot of speed and they like to control the clock with the running game when they can. Leary is the “game manager” type but he can win games for his team with his consistent play.
The Pack has a really strong running game with Bam Knight and Ricky Person combining for a two-headed monster. Knight has a career 5.6 yard per carry average for his career and he can take any carry to the house. Person is a bigger back at 222 pounds but the Pack uses him in the passing game and he can make guys miss if he gets in the open field. Louisville will have to slow these guys down on Saturday to have a chance at containing the offense.
Louisville has faced some great groups of Receivers this year and the Wolfpack has a strong group as well. While they are not as explosive as some of the other groups, they do have experience and reliability. Emeka Emezie is the top pass catcher in NC State history and he is the go-to guy for Leary. He hasn’t been as consistent this year but he had a good game last week getting open on the outside.
Thayer Thomas and Devin Carter are the other key targets for Leary. Thomas is a reliable slot guy who has a few games in his career where he has gone off. Carter is the most dangerous player on the offense, in my opinion. He has great size and can get behind the defense. When he does he can make acrobatic catches that just kill a defense. State doesn’t push the big passing plays like some of the other teams on Louisville’s schedule so I think we will see Bryan Brown trust his secondary to cover these guys. We’ll have to wait to see if it pays off.
The best Offensive Line Louisville will see this year will be this weekend. Ikem Ekwonu is arguably the best Left Tackle in the country while Grant Gipson will likely be up for the Rimington Trophy for the best Center in the country. This group clears holes for the run game and they keep their Quarterback upright. What will be interesting to see is if they pick up UofL’s pressures better than Boston College did. BC has an impressive line as well and they struggled with everything Bryan Brown threw at them. He has to hope for the same success this week.
Dave Doeren brings his banged up defense into this weekend’s matchup with hopes that his young talent will step up earlier than anticipated. The Wolfpack defense has lost multiple starters this year and they are coming into this game having to replace their defensive leader in Isaiah Moore. How the defense replaces Moore and how they look to contain an improving Louisville rushing attack will be key.
The defensive front for State is talented although they haven’t been as productive as some groups we’ve seen in the past. Corey Durden transferred in from Florida State and he has made an impact in the middle. Durden has been disruptive and he’s done a good job of freeing up space for the Linebackers behind him. Daniel Joseph and Davin Mann have also made plays this year with Savion Jackson looking to live up to the hype of his recruitment.
Linebacker will be the big question mark for the Wolfpack defense. Isaiah Moore being out is a major problem for the defense but Payton Wilson being lost for the season has been underrated in my opinion. State has lacked the big-play ability at the second level that would have made this defense fearsome. While they are a top-20 defense, I think they could have been better with Wilson flying around the field.
Without Moore and Wilson, the defense is reliant on Drake Thomas to be outstanding. The depth chart shows a lot of youth at the other two spots and UofL could force a couple of true freshmen into action if they can wear down the defense. Jordan Poole and Cade Fordham were big gets for the Pack as recruits but being thrust into this type of situation could be too much for them to handle.
The Wolfpack has a mix of experience and youth in the secondary and the pass defense has struggled a bit this year. Tanner Ingle is an absolute stud at his Safety spot but no other players have stood out so far. Ingle is great in run support while also having the ability to cover in the middle of the field. His ability to help on outside runs will be a big key in this game but Louisville’s play-action game could cause some problems for a very aggressive secondary.
—Saturday is Homecoming for NC State.
—Louisville is 3-1 all-time in road games against NC State.
—Under Scott Satterfield, Louisville is 12-1 when winning the turnover battle, and just 2-13 when losing it. One of those two victories came last week against Boston College.
—Louisville quarterback coach Pete Thomas started six games at quarterback for the Wolfpack in 2013 - Dave Doeren’s first season with program.
—NC State leads the ACC in total defense and rushing defense, ranks second in scoring defense and fifth in passing defense.
—The NC State offense has not committed a turnover in three straight games.
—Louisville is a 6.5-point underdog in this game, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The Cardinals are 1-2 straight up as an underdog so far this season.
—Louisville is 5-0 under Scott Satterfield when scoring 40-49 points, and 2-0 when scoring 50 or more.
—NC State and Georgia are the only FBS teams that have allowed just one rushing touchdown so far this season.
—Wolfpack quarterback Devin Leary has not thrown an interception in the past five games (175 straight pass attempts). During that span he’s thrown 14 touchdowns and completed 67% (117- 175) of his throws.
—In eight seasons as a head coach, Scott Satterfield’s teams are 55-7 when scoring 30 or more points. Louisville is 14-4 in such games under Satterfield, but has lost two in a row — a 37-34 loss to Wake Forest and a 34-33 loss to Virginia.
—Louisville is 31-31 in league games since joining the ACC in 2014.
—NC State has won its last seven games at Carter-Finley, including all four in 2021.
—The Wolfpack are outscoring their foes 151-55 (37.8-13.8) at home this season.
—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.
—Louisville is 211-92-5 all-time during the month of October, with Scott Satterfield posting a 5-6 mark in his first three seasons during the calendar’s 10th month.
—The Louisville game marks the Wolfpack’s seventh night game in eight contests this season. With four games still left to be scheduled, that already ties as the highest total of night games in school history. That’s the highest number in the ACC so far this season.
—Malik Cunningham is the first player in Louisville history to rush for at least five touchdowns in four separate seasons.
—Former NC State coach Dick Sheridan will be honored during Saturday’s game for his induction into the NFF College Football Hall of Fame. Although he was in the Class of 2020, he will be formally inducted in December of ‘21 in Las Vegas.
—Louisville is 0-6 under Scott Satterfield when being held to 21 points or fewer.
—Louisville is 13-2 under Scott Satterfield when leading at halftime, and 15-2 when leading at the end of the 3rd quarter.
—Louisville is 0-13 under Satterfield when trailing at the end of the 3rd quarter.
—Louisville is currently riding a consecutive game scoring streak that spans 268 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 told our team, kind of where we’re sitting in within the ACC standings, there’s still a great opportunity in ACC. We take care of business Saturday, then we’re sitting in second place on our side.” —Scott Satterfield
—“We control our own destiny. I know a lot of fans were disappointed, upset, whatever you may say about the loss we just had, and so were we, more than you. But we still have it all in front of us, and we got to win one game at a time to make that a reality, and that starts with Louisville here at home.” —NC State head coach Dave Doeren
—“They play extremely hard, all of them do. They’re a three down team, they’ll drop a lot to keep everything in front and their three defensive lineman get out and they really free their linebackers up.” —Scott Satterfield
—“They play a little bit of a different scheme, but they pressure a lot. That kind of puts the pressure on the offense to be able to pick that up, and to be able to keep the quarterback upright, basically.” —Jack Bicknell
—“We’re all just happy that we get to be home. It’s homecoming this week and we know the students are going to be back. Coming home is huge for us.” —NC State center Grant Gibson
Card Chronicle Prediction: Louisville 34, NC State 31