LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (4-3, 2-3) vs. WAKE FOREST DEMON DEACONS (6-1, 2-1)
Game Time: 3:30 p.m.
Location: Cardinal Stadium: Louisville, Ky.
Television: ACC Network
Announcers: Wes Durham (play-by-play), Eric MacClain (analyst), Taylor Davis (sideline)
Favorite: Wake Forest by 3.5
All-Time Series: Louisville leads, 6-3
Last Meeting: Wake Forest won 37-34 on 10/2/21 in Winston-Salem
Louisville Depth Chart:
Game Day Guide:
Excitement Level: 7.1
I swore after the Boston College game that I wouldn’t get back here again, and yet here we are. Still not as high as it probably should be. I’ve still got my guard partially up, but I’m also ready to get hurt again.
Pregame Meal: Pizza
Little man’s birthday party will be supplying the goods.
Bold Prediction: Malik Cunningham throws more than two touchdown passes
Would mark the first time that’s happened this season.
Rance Conner Interception Alert Level: Extra Light Almond (feeling more optimistic than it should)
The Alert Level is feeling a positive shift for this afternoon.
Predicted Star of the Game: Trevion Cooley
He’s been making the most of his extra touches and producing more week after week. That production hits an apex Saturday afternoon.
About Wake Forest:
Dave Clawson has been mocked for a while now about his “Clawfense” which uses unorthodox schemes that no other team does. Clawson is also on pace to win 10 games for the second straight year with an offense that can essentially score at will. Wake Forest has a balanced attack that creates big plays with an impressive vertical passing attack that is very hard to stop. This will be the season’s biggest test for a Louisville defense that has improved as the year has gone on.
Sam Hartman is the best quarterback in the ACC and has a fair argument to be considered one of the best in the country. While Hartman may not have the skill set that some other top quarterbacks have, he is a master of his offense and he is unbelievably consistent. He can make all of the throws that this offense needs from him and while he’s not a great runner, he can extend plays and run for tough yards if needed.
What’s most impressive to me about Hartman is that he has no fear and doesn’t panic in the pocket. He stands in and patiently waits for plays to develop even after the slow mesh tactic that they use to keep defenses guessing. He knows what he’s waiting for and he will even take a sack or two while he waits for things to develop. So how does this Lousiville defense that’s been pressuring quarterbacks all season handle a guy who won’t be rattled at all? It’s a major factor in how this game will play out.
Wake’s running game hasn’t been overly productive over the last few years but this season has been a real struggle compared to recent history. Wake is averaging under four yards per carry and they are only putting up 143 yards per game on the ground. As we know, teams that don’t run the ball well have found some success against this defense so Christian Turner and Justice Ellison have to be contained. I’d argue that UofL has to make Wake one-dimensional to come away with a win, so they will need to take these guys out of the game with tackles for loss and run stuffs.
This will be the best group of receivers Louisville will see this season and I think it’s fair to say that it’s not even debatable. A.T. Perry is coming off of a 1200-yard season and the only reason that he isn’t putting up similar numbers is that there are more options for Hartman to spread the ball to. Donovan Greene was Wake’s highest-rated signing in school history and he is having a great year after coming back from an injury. Jahmal banks followed up a freshman season where he caught five passes to currently lead the ACC in touchdown catches.
That doesn’t even factor in Taylor Morin who had a field day against Louisville last year or Ke’Shawn Williams who is a very quick and explosive slot option. Every school has wide receivers who can put up numbers if given the opportunity but Wake has four of five guys who will create their own opportunities. Bryan Brown has had his secondary in man coverage a lot over the last few weeks but he will have to mix things up a lot more to make sure that he can keep this offense from breaking big plays.
Wake’s offensive line has always been stout and they have been solid again this season. They do a good job of protecting Hartman in the pocket though his tendency to hold onto the ball can lead to sacks. They haven’t been as good at opening holes for the running game but it is also tough to get a feel for how much of that is on the line as opposed to the scheme. What I do know is that UofL will have to have a strong game in the trenches like they have in a few games this season to disrupt this offense.
Each year I write this post and talk about how much Wake Forest’s defense has fallen off since Mike Elko moved on from the program. Well, it seems like Dave Clawson has found the guy to get his defense back on track in Brad Lambert. This defense is playing better all-around and they make plays to force turnovers and negative plays.
The front of this defense is where they really excel with Rondell Bothroyd and Kobe Turner playing at a high level. Turner is the top defensive lineman in the country in PFF’s metrics while Bothroyd is among the leaders in the conference in sacks and tackles for loss. The group as a whole is a bit inconsistent but these guys can create havoc for this offense when it comes to stopping the run and pressuring the quarterback.
Ryan Smenda is the one player that I can make a joke about when it comes to how long he has been there. The veteran linebacker has been one of the team leaders in tackles for five years now and he is such a sound player who gets the job done while not being a major playmaker. Every team needs guys who can play good assignment ball and Smenda excels in that area.
The secondary is the area of this defense that appears to be the most improved from what I’ve seen. They have gotten after the football in coverage in a way that I don’t know that they showed before. Wake is one of the top teams in the country in PBUs and they followed up a pick-six against Vandy with three interceptions against Liberty. There may be opportunities to push the ball down the field for Louisville, but this secondary will be sticky in coverage.
Calen Carson and Gavin Holmes are both very good corners who have played well in this matchup before. J.J. Roberts leads the team as the replacement for Carson while he’s been out with an injury. So Wake now has four guys who should have no issue in coverage on the outside or in the slot. Lousiville looks to attack safeties and slot corners, so this is an area to keep an eye on.
The safeties for Wake are solid as well. Malik Mustapha is third on the team in tackles while also putting up 2.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. I expect him to be a big factor in the run game. Chelen Garnes hasn’t put up many impact plays this year but he has been a strong tackler as he has the highest tackling grade per PFF. I think UofL can target these safeties in the passing game, but I’m not sure Wake will give them the opportunity.
—Louisville is facing a ranked opponent for the first time since dropping a 37-34 decision at Wake Forest last season. Scott Satterfield 1-6 against ranked teams in the AP poll and 0-3 against teams ranked in the top 10.
—Wake Forest has won 12 consecutive games in the month of October.
—Louisville is 17-61-1 all-time against teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 and 8-17 in home games against top 25 foes.
—Wake Forest has been ranked in 21 consecutive AP polls, which is the longest streak in school history and tied for the sixth longest streak in the country.
—The Demon Deacons’ six consecutive bowl game appearances rank second in the ACC behind only Clemson.
—The last time an unranked Louisville team knocked off a top 10 opponent came in 2002 when the Cards knocked off No. 4 Florida State 26-20 in overtime.
—Wake Forest has forced a turnover in 37 of their last 39 games dating back to Sept. 28, 2019. Their only games without one came vs. Clemson (9/24/22) and at Louisville (12/12/20).
—The Cardinals are leading the ACC in sacks (25) and have three of the top 11 players in the league for sacks per game. Defensive lineman Yaya Diaby is third in the league in sacks with 5.5.
—Louisville has been tied or leading in the fourth quarter in seven of its last nine losses, including last season’s defeat in Winston-Salem.
—This will be the first top-10 opponent to venture into Cardinal Stadium since hosting third-ranked Clemson on 2019. The Tigers dominated the Cards 45-10.
—Wake Forest is a 3.5-point favorite in this game according to DraftKings Sportsbook. That might not be bad news for Louisville, as underdogs have won four of the last five games in this series. The lone exception was last season, when the Demon Deacons were favored by 7 and won by 3.
—Louisville has forced at least three turnovers in four straight games for the first time since a five-game stretch from Oct. 7 to Nov. 4, 2000.
—Seven games into the 2022 season, Wake Forest is averaging 41.4 points per game. This ranks 10th in the nation.
—After scoring 44 points in Week 1 vs. VMI, 45 points in Week 2 at Vanderbilt, 37 points in Week 3 vs. Liberty, 45 points in Week 4 vs. Clemson, 31 points in Week 5 at Florida State, 45 points in Week 6 vs. Army, 43 points in Week 8 vs. Boston College, Wake Forest’s 247 total points ranks as the second-highest mark in program history through seven games.
—Louisville is looking to win three straight games against FBS opponents for the first time in the Scott Satterfield era.
—Scott Satterfield is 2-1 in games against Wake Forest.
—Louisville is 213-94-5 all-time during the month of October, with Scott Satterfield posting a 7-8 mark in his first four seasons during the calendar’s 10th month.
—Over Scott Satterfield’s first four seasons at Louisville, 15 of his 43 games have been decided by one possession or less. The Cardinals are 5-10 in those games.
—Louisville is 35-35 in ACC games since joining the conference in 2014, and 14-17 under Satterfield.
—Louisville is 1-16 under Scott Satterfield when trailing going into the fourth quarter. Their lone victory came last week when they outscored Pitt 17-0 in the fourth quarter on their way to a 24-10 win over the Panthers.
—Under Scott Satterfield, Louisville is 17-3 when winning the turnover battle, and just 2-17 when losing it.
—The Cards have turned the football over seven times in their three losses this season and five times in their four victories.
—With six total touchdowns against Boston College, Wake Forest QB Sam Hartman is tied for sixth in ACC history with 111 touchdowns responsible for in his career, just two away from Phillip Rivers for fifth. Additionally, he sits in third for career passing touchdowns with 93 in his career just two away from the top five.
—Hartman is in first as the FBS career-active leader in passing touchdowns while ranking 41st in FBS history.
—Louisville is 7-0 under Scott Satterfield when scoring 40-49 points, and 3-0 when scoring 50 or more.
—Louisville is 1-9 under Scott Satterfield when being held to 21 points or fewer, with their lone win coming earlier this season in a 20-14 triumph over UCF.
—Louisville is currently riding a consecutive game scoring streak that spans 281 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 196-14 all-time when scoring 35 or more points in a game. The Cards are also 6-121 all-time when allowing opponents to score 40 or more points.
—“Coach Clawson’s teams don’t beat themselves. They don’t turn the football over. I think they’re number one in the conference in lack of penalties. They only get penalized for maybe 30 yards a game. I remember two years ago when they came out here and we ended up beating them, I think they were number one or two in the country in turnovers, and then we turned them over that day two times. That’s kind of how they’ve won these games, and that’s kind of a mark of a Clawson team. Don’t beat yourselves, we’re going to score a lot of points and make teams have to play great football in order to beat us.” —Scott Satterfield
—“We’ve been in this position. You can never ever relax. It takes so much work to just be in this position, to get to November and play in big games and be nationally ranked. When you play a talented football team — which these guys always are — you make those mistakes, you’re gonna get beat.” —Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson
—”This is probably the biggest challenge we’ve had to date. Louisville is one of those teams that their talent, skill and potential doesn’t match their record. They’re a team that is less than 10 points away from being the same record as we are. It’s a team that can score in bunches. They have a quarterback who can make all the throws, run the offense and run himself. We have our work cut out for us.” —Wake Forest safeties coach James Adams
—“When you’re not handed something and you truly have to work for it — and you’ve truly earned it — you probably appreciate the success more. We’ve really worked hard to be in this position. It wasn’t handed to us. We don’t want to lose it.” —Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson
Card Chronicle Prediction: Wake Forest 42, Louisville 31
Here’s to a second straight week of being wrong.