LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (5-5, 3-4) at DUKE BLUE DEVILS (3-7, 0-6)
Game Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Wallace-Wade Stadium: Durham, N.C.
Announcers: Matt Barrie (play-by-play), Roddy Jones (analyst) and Quint Kessenich (sideline)
Favorite: Louisville by 20
All-Time Series: Louisville leads, 2-0
Last Meeting: Louisville won 24-14 on Oct. 14, 2016 at Cardinal Stadium
Louisville Depth Chart:
Excitement Level: 7.1
The chance to earn bowl eligibility on Thursday night in a spot where you should be able to take care of business? All things considered, not a bad setup for the penultimate game of the regular season.
Game Attire: Red Lamar leap shirt underneath red Louisville sweatshirt
I’d be doing a disservice to all of us if I changed anything from last Saturday’s viewing state.
Pregame Meal: No idea
The post-baby meal train is still rolling and we have a friend bringing us dinner tonight. Zero clue what it is.
Bold Prediction: Louisville never trails in this game
Let’s get to 1-for-11.
Justin Marshall TD Alert Level: Piggy Pink (very good)
It’s not a guarantee like it was earlier this season (when Marshall’s lone touchdown actually happened), but it’s the closest it’s been since then.
Predicted Star of the Game: Jordan Watkins
Go off, young speedster.
David Cutcliffe made his career as a quarterback guru after coaching Peyton Manning and others but his stint as Duke’s head coach has been very up and down. Cutty got the program to 10 wins in 2013 but as of now, that is his win total over the last three years. The Duke offense has also seen some ups and downs recently with Daniel Jones becoming a star before the lack of stars hindered the offense after his departure. The Blue devils have lost six in a row but hope to be more healthy this week.
Duke should have Gunnar Holmberg back for the game this week after missing last week with an injury. Holmberg is the ACC leader in completion percentage and he can extend plays with his legs. While duke hasn’t been very good over the last two months, Holmberg gives them an opportunity to win games. He has good size, a solid arm, and the ability to run gives him the chance to pick up third downs with his legs. Holmberg being back in the lineup changes this game, in my opinion.
The star of the offense is Mataeo Durant. Louisville is coming off facing the second-best rusher in the nation and they now get to face another guy in the top ten. Durant is a complete back who can catch the ball out of the backfield, break long runs, and grind for tough yardage. The struggles of the team seem to coincide with the lack of usage and effectiveness of Durant. Durant has not averaged more than 5 yards per touch in over a month and in the one game where they gave him 44 touches, he averaged just 3.6 yards per play. Durant is the key to the offense but they have had some real issues getting him going recently.
The passing offense for Duke has some struggles because they don’t have a dynamic receiver to make big plays consistently. Jalon Calhoun is a big-play threat in the slot with three touchdowns on the season. Calhoun leads the team in yards and has two 100-yard games on the season. On the outside, Mike Bobo and his 6-5 frame lead the team in catches as a reliable possession receiver. Bobo can make contested catches but hasn’t made a lot of big plays down the field.
Duke’s offense does a good job of protecting the quarterback but the mobility of their quarterback group helps them out. The amount of negative plays for this offense is probably a better indicator for how this group performs and they are ranked 109th. The inconsistency of the offense starts up front and UofL should be able to take advantage if the defense performs as they did against Syracuse.
Duke football isn’t known for much but over the last decade or so their defense has had a handful of very good defensive players. Jeremy Cash, Chris Rumph, Michael Carter, Ben Humphrey are a few of the All-Conference and All-American level players that Duke has had at their disposal over recent years. The lack of big-time playmakers this year has led to one of the worst defensive units Duke has had in recent years.
The defensive front for Duke is where their problems begin. The Blue Devils allow 4.93 yards per carry and only have 19 sacks on the season. Ben Frye and Dewayne Carter are solid players while Roman Oben’s sone R.J. has great potential. But Duke gets nearly no production from any other players up front. With their struggles against the run and UofL wanting to sustain drives, the lack of depth could be a big factor on Thursday.
The one big-time player Duke has on defense Is Shaka Heyward. The 6-4/220 middle linebacker makes plays all over the field. His 11.5 tackles for loss are near the top of the ACC and he is always near the play when you watch Duke play. He can do a little bit of everything and Louisville has to make sure he doesn’t make the big plays that can swing a game.
Duke has had a handful of very good defensive backs in recent years and they are sorely missing those guys this season. While Duke is one of the best teams in the country in pass breakups, they are also allowing 9.3 yards per pass attempt. Duke is allowing opposing receivers to average 16.21 yards per catch on the season. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a team allow that high of an average before.
Josh Blackwell is the player in the secondary that stands out to me. He has really good speed that helps him at least stay in the play on throws down the field. Lummie Young is another strong performer. He leads the team in pass breakups from his rover spot and he is second on the team in tackles. The lack of strong safety play bodes well for Louisville as they were able to expose Syracuse last week and should be able to do the same this week.
—A win by Louisville over Duke will ensure that the Cardinals will be bowl eligible for the second time in three seasons under Scott Satterfield.
—In Louisville’s only past trip to Durham, Dave Ragone threw for 258 yards and Louisville’s defense held Duke without a first down in the opening 28 minutes as the Cardinals beat the Blue Devils 40-3. The senior had plenty of time to pass against Duke, going 18-of-24 in the opening half as the Cardinals took a 26-3 lead.
—Louisville and Duke were supposed to play three more games that decade, but the Blue Devils opted out of the series and then avoided paying any cancelation fees to U of L by successfully arguing in court that they had the worst college football program in the world.
—Under Scott Satterfield, Louisville is 13-2 when winning the turnover battle, and just 2-14 when losing it.
—Under Scott Satterfield, Louisville is 3-4 in games televised on ESPN.
—Duke is the lone ACC team without a conference win (0-6).
—Duke RB Mataeo Durant ranks tied for first in the ACC in rushing attempts (220), second in rushing yards (1,095) and third in both total touchdowns by a running back (9) and all-purpose yards per game (131.70).
—Louisville has gone back-to-back games without a turnover lost for the first time since the Syracuse and Kentucky games Nov. 18-25, 2017. After turning the football over 24 times in 2020, the Cards have given away the football just 12 times in 10 games.
—Over the last two seasons, Louisville has played eight games in which it has out-gained its opponent and still lost. No other FBS program has done this more than five times over the same span.
—In nine of its last 14 losses overall, Louisville has out-gained its opponent.
—Louisville is a 20.5-point favorite in this game according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The Cardinals are 4-1 straight up as a favorite so far this season.
—Yasir Abdullah enters the final game of the ACC schedule second in the league and 12th in the nation with 9.0 sacks. The 9.0 sacks are the most by a Cardinal since Devonte Fields had 11 in 2015.
—Louisville recorded five sacks in the win over Syracuse, upping their season total to 30. The 30 sacks are the most since the 2016 campaign
—Louisville is 6-0 under Scott Satterfield when scoring 40-49 points, and 2-0 when scoring 50 or more.
—In eight seasons as a head coach, Scott Satterfield’s teams are 56-7 when scoring 30 or more points. Louisville is 15-4 in such games under Satterfield.
—This season will be the last for Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski. You are contractually forced to mention this in any preview of any Blue Devil sporting event during the 2021-22 athletics season.
—Duke head coach David Cutcliffe is 0-2 all-time in games against Louisville.
—Duke has dropped six games in a row, all in conference play, and have been outscored by 177 points (264-87) during that stretch.
—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 32-33 in league games since joining the ACC in 2014.
—Louisville has lost four games this season when having a lead or being tied in the fourth quarter. No FBS team has lost more.
—Louisville is 157-171-52 all-time during the month of November, with Scott Satterfield posting a 4-5 mark in his first three seasons during the calendar’s 11th month.
—The Cards are 97-79-2 all-time in November home games.
—Louisville is 0-7 under Scott Satterfield when being held to 21 points or fewer.
—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 271 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 194-14 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 know what we have in front of us. We have the opportunity to win our sixth game and get bowl eligibility, and we want that, and our players want that.” —Scott Satterfield
—“Obviously, nothing’s gone according to script. But when people say: ‘Well, what’s left?’ The players. The whole focus is about our squad, our players – putting our players in a better position to be successful, preparing them to be successful. That’s a never-ending process.” —Duke head coach David Cutcliffe
—“I never played or coached in Wallace-Wade, and I grew up five minutes from it. This will be pretty cool for me to be able to go back to my hometown and be able to coach in that stadium.” —Scott Satterfield
—“We’ve got to find the mix of where we are. We’ve got to put ourselves into position to be successful regardless of what anybody thinks or says or does. It’s all whatever is inside of us, and we have to find the very best part of us.” —Duke head coach David Cutcliffe
—“Hopefully our guys are fired up to know we can play this way no matter who we’re playing, and to say, ‘let’s go out let’s put this thing together. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing, anybody can beat you, so we better be ready to rock and roll.” —Scott Satterfield
Card Chronicle Prediction: Louisville 38, Duke 16