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Final: N.C. State 28 - Louisville 13

The one that got away

NCAA Football: Louisville at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into this game we knew that NCST was going to be short handed on defense. The Cards did a decent job attacking the middle of the defense with run plays, but even in our gaining the Pack 434 yards to 317 timing was everything.

From the start the refs seemed to be calling a favorable game for the home team, with the final calling card coming out to 10 penalties for 101 yards for Louisville and 5 for just 45 for NCST. That’s certainly not the whole story, but it did feel that the Cards were up against it from the start.

The offense had a good, but not great, first half against the Pack, but in the second half it seemed like they settled into the predictable play calling that’s plagued them all season. We saw rushes on 2 and long as well as Malik just being off on passes that he’s hit all season.

Even when Malik had his deep ball picked off in the first half I was okay with it as it showed the offense wasn’t scared to push and be aggressive. But in the second half the offense became far too predictable and Malik wasn’t his normal self. That combo proved to be disastrous.

The final score is not indicative of how close this game really was, but it’s becoming a trend how poorly the offense performs in the second half. This offense is too good and experienced to be nonexistent 2nd half after 2nd half. I expect more, and I know y’all do too.

This game just feels so weird as it felt like we were in it all day despite the refs and the dumb play calling. I think if we play this game 10 times it comes out an even 5-5, but that’s no the luxury we have, and we caught the short end tonight.

There’s still some positives to take away from tonight, such as the defense continuing to bring pressure, but the end result is beyond frustrating. This was a very winnable game and the team didn’t bring enough to counteract the odds against them.

The Cards will need to clean things up and keep their offensive engine on all game if they want to knock off a limping Clemson for the first time since joining the ACC.