LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (2-3, 0-3) at VIRGINIA CAVALIERS (2-3, 0-2)
Game Time: Noon
Location: Scott Stadium: Charlottesville, Va.
Television: ACC Network
Announcers: Chris Cottet (play-by-play), Mark Herzlich (analyst), and Lericia Harris (sidelines)
Favorite: Louisville by 2.5
All-Time Series: Tied, 5-5
Louisville Depth Chart:
Excitement Level: 2.8
Shew. I can’t believe we’re here.
Game Attire: Red Louisville Cardinals hoodie
Maybe we just needed hoodie season to arrive.
Pregame Meal: Eggs
Not gonna say it again.
Bold Prediction: Virginia scores a defensive touchdown
Just a feeling.
Rance Conner Interception Alert Level: Atomic Tangerine (average)
We’ve quieted down here in recent weeks.
Predicted Star of the Game: Kei’Trel Clark
The secondary will once again be tested and it’d be nice to see the Cards’ top corner step up at the midway point of what has been a bit of a disappointing season for him.
Virginia got a surprise this past winter when Bronco Mendenhall retired out of nowhere. Mendenhall had built UVA into a program that could easily sustain after his departure. Hoos fans had to be happy when Tony Elliott chose to leave Clemson to take over the program after a 6-win season. However, the results have not been great so far as UVA has only had one complete performance on the year and it came in a loss. Elliott probably had unfair expectations placed on him but the regression on the offensive side of the ball has frustrated some fans.
Brennon Armstrong makes this offense go and there aren’t many quarterbacks in the country that have fallen off as much as he has. Armstrong is barely completing half of his passes this year and he has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns this season. Throw in his handful of fumbles and Armstong just hasn’t been the player we are all used to watching.
While he has struggled, Armstrong is still a dangerous player with his arm and his legs. He has run the ball well this year on designed runs as well as on scrambles. He can still extend plays with the best of him and he knows where to deliver the ball when he needs a big play. Louisville has been wildly unpredictable on defense so they will have to work to contain Armstrong and take advantage of his poor play.
UVA hasn’t had a good running game for a good while now but Elliott has been able to change that so far. Perris Jones waited for his chance and it has paid off this season. Jones is averaging just over 60 yards per game which would be the highest average for a UVA player since 2018. He is also averaging over 5 yards per carry but he only gets about 11 carries per game. I’d imagine that will change this weekend with UofL fielding such a poor run defense.
The biggest issue for the Cavs this year is probably their wide receivers. Heralded as one of the best groups returning in the country, they just have not performed as expected. Dontayvion Wicks ended last season with 1200+ yards and a yards per catch average over 21 yards. That production is on pace to be cut in half. Wicks hasn’t really looked himself and it’s been hard to figure out why.
Keytaon Thompson will line up against UofL for what seems like the tenth time this weekend and he has been one of the few consistent players for the Hoos. He is averaging over 6 catches per game and his ability to be a reliable possession receiver has been underrated in this struggling offense. Thompson is a monster on third downs and he is very hard to bring down in the open field. He and Lavel Davis have the ability to make big plays for this offense. Davis is 6-7 so look for him on deep routes and red zone targets.
The Virginia offensive line was rebuilt this year after losing two starters to the transfer portal. They have not played overly well but I think they have been really good in the run game and they have held up pretty well with Armstrong being so indecisive in the pocket. UofL’s defensive line had an awful performance against a very bad Boston College offensive line last week. They will have to be better this week to slow down this offense.
Tony Elliott knows the value of a good defensive coordinator and he got a good one in John Rudzinski from Air Force. Rudzinski has fielded very good defenses over the years and he knows how to do a lot with a little. While the defense has had some struggles this year at times, his unit has been able to force turnovers and they are one of the best teams in the country in coverage.
Everything on defense starts up front and UVA has been good at getting tackles for loss as well as sacks. They also do a good job of stopping the run even though they’re giving up a lot of yardage. Duke ran for 248 yards last week but that was a bit out of the ordinary. The line is led by Chico Bennet who is a very good pass rusher and Aaron Faumui who can stuff the run. Bennett fits the bill as the 250-ish pound edge player that has given UofL fits all season. They can’t let him take over this game like we saw last week.
The Hoos have a good group of linebackers again this year with Nick Jackson leading the way. Jackson made his debut against UofL after a targeting call a few years ago and he has pretty much held down the spot since. Jackson is at his best when he has room to work and he plays downhill better than just about anyone. He will be a key player against the stretch runs that UofL relies on. He can shoot gaps and cause havoc.
The rest of the group has great depth with guys like Hunter Stewart, James Jackson, and Josh Ahern are guys that have stood out to me. While they aren’t putting up big numbers, I think they have all been well-rounded and have helped the defense as a whole. UofL hasn’t done much of anything when it comes to misdirection but this weekend would be a good opportunity to start. There’s some inexperience here and they could take advantage.
Anthony Johnson will always be one of my favorite UofL players and it’s good to see that he found a good spot where he could develop on the field at UVA. AJ is putting up numbers this year with 3 tackles for loss, an interception, and 4 PBUs. On the opposite side of the field, Fentrell Cyprus has been very good on the year with 6 PBUs. The UVA corners are all bigger guys who have good length. With the issues UofL receivers have had getting open, this will likely be a problem area.
UVA has been good at safety since the Cards joined the conference and I think they may be a bit better this year than in recent seasons with some addition by subtraction. Jonas Sankere and Lex Long rack up a lot of tackles and while both are young, they look to be guys who will improve with more and more experience. Antonio Cleary is the veteran in the group and it seems like he may be a good leader for the secondary. The secondary has allowed a lot of passes to be completed but they don’t give up very much yardage at all.
—Louisville (0-3) and Virginia (0-2) are the only ACC teams that have played multiple conference games and have not enjoyed a league victory.
—Road teams have won just two games in the history of this series: Louisville’s narrow victory in Charlottesville back in 2016, and Virginia’s come-from-behind victory at Cardinal Stadium last year.
—Louisville has lost five consecutive games against Power 5 conference opponents, the fourth-longest losing streak of any Power 5 team.
—Since 2018, Virginia is 23-5 at Scott Stadium, including a 2-0 mark this season.
—Louisville is 1-2 in road games this season and has lost 10 of its last 13 games away from Cardinal Stadium.
—UVA is seeking to avoid its first 0-3 start in ACC play since the 2013 season.
—The first five games of this series were won by a touchdown or less, including the first three on field goals in the closing minutes. Last year’s game was decided by a single point.
—UVA wide receiver (last year he was legitimately listed as “football player”) Keytaon Thompson’s first career QB start at Mississippi State as a true freshman in 2017 was in the Taxslayer Bowl against Louisville. He led the Bulldogs to a 31-27 victory over the Lamar Jackson-led Cardinals, rushing for three scores and tying a MSU bowl record.
—Louisville has been tied or leading in the fourth quarter in seven of its last nine losses.
—Louisville has had at least two sacks in each of its first five games this season. The Cardinals enter Saturday ranked 13th in the country in sacks.
—Louisville is a 2.5-point favorite in this game according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The Cardinals are 2-3 against the spread so far this season, and 1-2 straight up as a road favorite.
—Virginia is 7-7 all-time against teams from the state of Kentucky.
—Virginia QB Brennan Armstrong is two touchdown passes away from setting a new school record.
—Scott Satterfield is 1-2 in games against Virginia.
—Louisville is 211-94-5 all-time during the month of October, with Scott Satterfield posting a 5-8 mark in his first four seasons during the calendar’s 10th month.
—Over Scott Satterfield’s first four seasons at Louisville, 15 of his 41 games have been decided by one possession or less. The Cardinals are 5-10 in those games.
—Louisville is 33-35 in ACC games since joining the conference in 2014, and 12-17 under Satterfield.
—Saturday marks Virginia’s 97th homecomings game. The Cavaliers have won three-straight homecomings games dating back to the 2018 season and hold a 49-45-2 record on homecomings. The Cavaliers squared off one other occasion against Louisville on homecomings a 16-15 UVA victory in 1989.
—Of the 10 all-time meetings between UVA and Louisville, eight have been decided by one score, four by one or two points.
—Virginia has recovered seven fumbles so far this season, the third-most of any team in the country.
—Louisville is 0-16 under Scott Satterfield when trailing going into the fourth quarter.
—Louisville WR Ahmari Huggins-Bruce ranks second in the ACC in yards after catch with 175. Virginia’s Thompson is fourth with 157.
—Under Scott Satterfield, Louisville is 15-3 when winning the turnover battle, and just 2-17 when losing it. The Cardinals won the turnover battle last week against Boston College but still took a 34-33 loss.
—The Cards have turned the football over seven times in their three losses this season and twice in its two victories.
—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 279 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.
—“They’re like us. They are going to come out hungry. They’re battling for their season just like we’re battling for our season. We have to play well. No question about that…Our guys, when they get opportunities, they have to make plays.” —Virginia head coach Tony Elliott
—”They’ve struggled on the road this year, but they’ve won both their home games. They’re very similar (to us) in the fact that they’re sitting at 2-3 like we are and are in search of a win. I know we’re certainly going to get their best shot; it’s going to be at home. But it’s really about us putting together a great gameplan, about our guys going out and executing, making plays, and about us coaches putting our guys in position to make plays and not asking them to do things that they struggle doing. That’s poor coaching when we do that, so we got to do a better job in that aspect as coaches.” —Scott Satterfield
—“They’re really well-coached. They do a nice job running the ball and then they have nice complements in both play-action [pass] and then also drop-back pass, so as we know, [Cunningham] is a super-dynamic quarterback. He can make people miss in space and he can take an ordinary play and make it an extraordinary play.” —Virginia defensive coordinator John Rudzinski
—“We have to do a better job, I have to do a better job, of calling the game at times to make sure we have guys deep. To have, as we call it, an umbrella in the backfield. If we can do that and make teams drive it, we’re actually pretty good defensively when we do that. ... But I gotta do a better job of putting those guys in situations to do what they do best. If we can do that, I think we’ll be a lot better defensively at not giving up those explosive plays.” —Bryan Brown
—”Their scheme challenges you, especially with the wide zone and then all of the play-actions. So you can create a little bit more time when you move the pocket to throw some of those deep routes. Defensively, man, they’re direct. Not as big, but they’re very twitchy inside. What it’s kind of seemed to be our Achilles’ heel is when we get to these odd fronts, get somebody head up on our center, it has given us a little bit of a challenge. That’s what they base out of. Also, too, there’s opportunity there. We’re going to have to handle the junk.” —Virginia head coach Tony Elliott
—”I’m going down the defensive room, I’m in the offensive room. We’re here all day and all night. It’s just a matter of spreading out the hours throughout the day to figure out the best time to utilize myself. Meanwhile, the guys are working their tails off trying to come up with the best plan.” —Scott Satterfield
Card Chronicle Prediction: Louisville 23, Virginia 19
It will be weird and awkward because that’s what we do.