LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (1-2, 0-2) vs. SOUTH FLORIDA BULLS (1-2, 0-0)
Game Time: Noon
Location: Cardinal Stadium: Louisville, Ky.
Television: Regional Sports Networks (Bally Sports South in Louisville)
Announcers: Bob Rathbun (play-by-play), Charles Arbuckle (analyst), and Lyndsay Rowley (sidelines)
Favorite: Louisville by 14.5
All-Time Series: Louisville leads, 6-5
Game Day Guide:
Louisville Depth Chart:
Excitement Level: 4.5
Right back to where we were two weeks ago. This time it’s not because of my pessimism surrounding the game, just being drained from the Rollercoaster Scott experience.
Game Attire: Lamar leap t-shirt
Full admission: This shirt was dirty last week and I went with Heisman Cardinal bird shirt as a “Mountain Breeze”-ish replacement. Assuming we take care of business this afternoon, I will have Leaping Lamar ready for every game until we lose again.
Pregame Meal: Eggs
It’s all I can eat for breakfast these days and it’s all I’ll be eating before kickoff on Saturday.
Bold Prediction: South Florida scores first, people boo, but USF doesn’t score again before halftime
Once again, the Roller Coaster Scott experience.
Rance Conner Interception Alert Level: Sea Green (average)
For the second straight week, we underestimated our guy. Against UCF, we asked if he’d play, and he ended up getting a tackle. Against FSU, we asked if he’d get a tackle, and he got an interception. This will now remain the Interception Alert Level for the remainder of the season.
Predicted Star of the Game: Ashton Gillotte
Let’s have an afternoon, young fella.
About South Florida:
The South Florida Bulls were once a group of five darlings but the years haven’t been kind to them recently. Jeff Scott was brought in to bring a local connection from a big-time program but the returns, so far, have left a lot to be desired. Scott will bring his squad into Louisville with hopes to take advantage of a team that can’t find a way to play a clean game or reach its potential.
Scott got a shot in the arm this summer when Gerry Bohanon made the decision to transfer after losing the starting job at Baylor. Bohanon was very good at Baylor but he lost his job due to injury. He brings the ability to extend plays with his legs as well as being a strong passer though he is not been on the mark too often this year. With a few games under his belt, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bohanon show some improvement but UofL’s pressure could be an issue for him.
The running game looked very good for USF against Howard in week two but they’ve struggled against better teams. They use three running backs in their system and they all have different skills. Jarren Mangham is your big back while Brian Battie is the smaller and quicker option with Clemson transfer Michael Dukes being a mix of both. Mangham is the starter but they use all three players well and all pose a challenge for a Louisville defense that has not tackled well this season.
South Florida has 19 transfers on their depth chart and wide receiver has been buoyed by the transfer portal. Ajou Ajou is a big-bodied transfer from Clemson who is coming back from an injury that kept him out of the first two games. Khafree Brown is a former four-star receiver from North Carolina who flashed in limited time at UNC but had issues with drops that kept him off the field. They team with Jimmy Ford to make a very talented and athletic group of complimentary receivers for the Bulls.
The guy you have to worry about, however, is Xavier Weaver who went off for 113 yards against BYU a few weeks ago. Weaver is a freak athlete and he is used in a lot of different ways in the offense. He has the speed to take a short pass and turn it into a touchdown and he can also get behind the defense on a deep route. The thing that stands out to me is his ability to elevate and make acrobatic catches in the air. Even if you have tight coverage, Weaver can come down with the ball.
The Bulls’ offensive line is a very veteran group and they have been very good this season. There isn’t much of a weakness here but they do typically get the ball out of the quarterback’s hand quickly. It remains to be seen if they can hold up in true passing situations as their offense doesn’t do a lot of deep drop backs. When they’ve gotten into long yardage situations they have used some screens and quarterback runs to try to utilize their athletes in space.
When Jeff Scott came to USF in 2020, he had a rebuild on his hands but he has used the transfer portal well to help cut down on the time of the rebuild. His defense is littered with transfers but just like the offensive side of the ball, he relies on guys that were recruited to USF to anchor his defense. His defensive coordinator Bob Shoop brings a wealth of knowledge and a scheme that can throw a lot of things at you. UofL will have to capitalize on every opportunity on offense.
The Bull’s defensive line is a great example of how their defense is a sum of its parts as opposed to individual stars. The line is led by Tramel Logan at defensive end and while he has been the most productive player on the line with 8 pressures on the quarterback, the group as a whole has played well. While they are not overly big up front, the line is active and they chase the ball really well. This will be a genuine test for an offensive line that played very well last week against a very good FSU defensive line.
Antonio Grier is one of the best linebackers Louisville will see this year and he got a nice tune-up last week after missing some time. Grier led USF in just about every defensive statistic last year and he is a general in the middle of the defense barking out orders and getting people lined up. This defense is built on speed and Grier does a good job of running down plays. It will be interesting to see if Louisville uses more misdirection this week to try to take advantage of the aggression and speed of USF’s linebackers.
The secondary for the Bulls has had a strong start to the season with three interceptions on the season. Aamaris Brown had one of the more impressive picks on the season last week when he jumped back shoulder throw on the goal line and made a nice catch to take away a touchdown from Florida. He’s a young player at one corner spot but they have veteran players playing opposite who also have great size.
As this defense is built on speed, it will be imperative that Louisville’s receivers find a way to get some separation this week. They really struggled to get open in key moments against FSU and that just can’t continue to be the case.
At safety, I really like Mekhi LaPointe as an overall talent. he can make plays on the ball but he has been really good in run support this season. One thing that stands out about the secondary is that they only have one PBU as a group on the season. They have made some plays to get interceptions but not getting pass breakups lends to the idea that they haven’t been strong in tight coverage. As the Cards have to get open and make plays, it’s possible that they could find some success against a group that hasn’t done well in coverage, overall.
—For the first time in program history, Louisville is playing three consecutive games against teams from the state of Florida.
—Louisville is 102-93-1 (.523) all-time in 196 games against current members of the American Athletic Conference. They have outscored their opponents in those games by a single point — 4,685 to 4,684.
—South Florida has lost 13 consecutive road games. The Bulls haven’t won a game away from home since a 45-20 triumph at East Carolina on Oct. 26, 2019.
—Louisville is 26-37-1 all-time versus teams from the state of Florida. The Cards had their four-game winning streak versus teams from the Sunshine State snapped with last Friday’s loss to Florida State.
—Over the last 10 years, South Florida is 3-8 against ACC opponents.
—The Bulls will be playing their first game of the season on turf and their first since playing at Tulane last year - a string of four straight games on grass. The Bulls averaged 27.7 ppg in six games on turf last year, including four of their top five scoring games and a season-best 42 points at Houston, and posted 18.6 ppg in six games on grass.
—Louisville is 108-45 all-time inside Cardinal Stadium.
—Louisville has 30 penalties in three games, more than all but four teams in the FBS.
—USF is No. 23 in the nation in fewest penalties per game (5.0) and No. 37 in fewest penalty yards per game (46.0).
—Louisville has won three straight games against South Florida, and is 4-1 against the Bulls in games played at Cardinal Stadium.
—South Florida is 12-10 all-time in games against teams from the state of Kentucky.
—Louisville is a 14.5-point favorite in this game according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The Cardinals are 1-2 against the spread so far this season, and 0-1 straight up as a favorite.
—In 2012, Louisville became the first opponent South Florida had ever faced at least 10 times.
—Louisville is 143-106-6 all-time during the month of September, including 7-7 in the month under Scott Satterfield.
—The explosive play has been a big part of Scott Satterfield’s offense since he arrived in Louisville, but U of L has yet to produce a play of 50 yards or more so far this season. The Cards had 10 such plays last season, 11 in 2020 and 15 in 2019.
—Under Scott Satterfield, Louisville is 14-2 when winning the turnover battle, and just 2-17 when losing it.
—The Cards have turned the football over six times in its two losses this season and once in the lone win.
—Louisville is 7-5 under Scott Satterfield in non-conference games.
—Louisville is 5-9 under Satterfield in games decided by one score.
—Louisville is 6-0 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 0-16 under Satterfield when trailing at the end of the 3rd quarter.
—Louisville is currently riding a consecutive game scoring streak that spans 277 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 195-14 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 are a much better football team than they were two years ago. They’ve got a bunch of transfers and they are playing hard.” —Scott Satterfield
—“It’s time for us to take that next step and finish it. The goal is to take all the good things we did and make sure that is the standard, while cleaning up all the mistakes. Doesn’t matter who we’re playing, whether the game is day or night, what injuries we have or anything else. We play to the standard.’’ —USF head coach Jeff Scott
—“We feel like we have something to prove. Last week showed us that we’re capable of doing so much more than what we have put on tape so far.” —USF OL Donovan Jennings
—“Their o-line is really good. I think probably this is the best line we’ve played this year. Out of the first four opponents. They’re athletic, they can move they get after they’re aggressive. You mentioned (Brian Battie). Not a huge back but very, very fast and quick. He was an all-American kick returner last year and had three kickoff returns for touchdowns. They’re dangerous in the return game.” —Scott Satterfield
“Louisville is very athletic and very aggressive. I think they were one or two plays away from beating Florida State last week, which is a really good team off to a good start. It starts with Malik Cunningham. He’s one of the best players in the country. He’s a guy you have to account for on every play.’’ —USF head coach Jeff Scott
Card Chronicle Prediction: Louisville 45, South Florida 20