LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (6-0, 3-0) at PITTSBURGH PANTHERS (1-4, 0-2)
Game Time: 6:30 p.m.
Location: Acrisure Stadium: Pittsburgh, Pa.
Television: The CW
Announcers: Tom Werme (play-by-play), James Bates (analyst) and Treavor Scales (reporter)
Favorite: Louisville by 7.5
All-Time Series: Pittsburgh leads, 10-9
Last Meeting: Louisville won 24-10 on Oct. 22, 2022 in Louisville
Louisville Depth Chart:
Upset Watch For Week 7— Parker Gillam (@gillam_parker) October 11, 2023
1. Fresno State @ Utah State
2. No. 3 Ohio State @ Purdue
3. Florida @ South Carolina
4. No. 14 Louisville @ Pittsburgh
5. Boise State @ Colorado State
24-0 Alabama over arky— Jake Mckeever (@CBCJakeMck) October 9, 2023
55-45 Oregon over UW
47-16 Tenner over A&M
31-14 USC over Florida
31-17 Rutgers over MSU
10-6 Iowa over Wisconsin
Upset BYU over TCU and Pitt over Louisville
The two "because college football" results of the week would easily be Miami beating UNC and Louisville getting upset by Pitt.— Chris Fallica (@chrisfallica) October 10, 2023
Excitement Level: 8.0
“Anxiety Level” would be more apt this week. I don’t care if it’s stressful, just get us to 7-0 going into the bye week so we can all keep dreaming big at least until the end of October.
Game Attire: Louisville football ringer t-shirt under red Louisville football sweatshirt
We’re back with the time-tested and unbeaten road attire.
Pregame Meal: Chicken Tortilla Soup
There’s a chance it will be a halftime meal or a postgame meal, but this will be the meal.
Bold Prediction: Chris Bell catches two touchdown passes.
Let’s make it two in a row.
T.J. Capers Playing Alert Level: Eggplant (very, very low)
Predicted Star of the Game: Chris Bell
If the rumors about Jamari Thrash being out are true, Louisville’s going to need a deep threat to take the top off a defense that will almost certainly be selling out to stop the run/pressure Jack Plummer. Enter the most impactful game of Chris Bell’s career to date.
Pat Narduzzi is stealing money at this point. He fields a good team each year but once he built his program to the point that he had a legit shot to consistently compete for the conference championship, he sabotaged it. In 2021, Pitt averaged 41 points per game which was nearly two touchdowns more than they averaged the year before. Following that season, Narduzzi ran off his offensive coordinator. He passed on elevating his wide receivers coach who has one of the more innovative schemes in the country. He then openly complained about the team not running the ball enough. I can’t imagine how Pitt fans put up with him.
Over the last two years, Pitt has been pretty abysmal at the quarterback position. Kedon Slovis struggled to move the offense last year even with one of the best rushing attacks in the country to help him. This year, Pitt brought in Phil Jurkovec to turn things around but he has played so poorly that he is now a tight end.
Jurkovec was very bad this year but I don’t know that any quarterback would play well in this offense. It is a boring system with no real imagination. Christian Veilleux will now take over and if we’re judging him based on his performance off the bench against UNC, he will also struggle. Veilleux threw two picks, completed 39% of his passes, and fumbled on a zone read run.
Pitt uses a stable of backs but Rodney Hammond will be the starter in the backfield. He and C’Bo Flemister have been solid this season but both are being held to under 40 yards per game. The running backs as a group aren’t even averaging 100 yards per game. Hammond has good speed and could break a long run if he gets space, but this should not be a group that causes issues for the Cards.
Pitt has some of the better talent in the ACC at wide receiver but they can’t do much with the poor quarterback play. Konata Mumpfield was a prized transfer recruit last season but injuries have impacted him as much as the quarterback play. Bub Means is a speedy option on the outside but he went viral a few weeks ago when he was targeted 11 times but had no catches.
The best option in the passing game so far this season has been Gavin Bartholomew at tight end. He has speed and size and this offense works to get him the ball a lot. The middle of the field is still a concern for Louisville and they need to have a plan so that this group doesn’t get going against them.
Pitt’s offensive line has been flat-out bad this year. They can’t protect the quarterback and they can’t open up rushing lanes for the backs. PFF ranks them 110th in pass blocking while they are 111th in run blocking. It doesn’t help things that Jurkovec has held onto the ball too long or that the offense uses a lot of long-developing plays. But, this group just doesn’t do anything well and the more aggressive approach Ron English has been relying on should have good results again.
Randy Bates and Pat Narduzzi have been rolling out great defenses at Pitt for what seems like forever. I’m not sure one could use the word “great” this year, however. The Panthers have given up 79 points in the last two games and they aren’t causing the havoc like they have in years past. Louisville is looking to take advantage of the Panthers’ issues while Pitt looks to improve coming off of a bye week.
Everything in this defense starts up front and that seems to be the issue for Pitt. The defensive line hasn’t produced many stats and they aren’t occupying blockers well enough to let the linebackers make those plays. At least not in the way that we’ve seen in the past. Teams have been able to keep drives going even after negative plays because the defensive front hasn’t been consistent. There is not one player that stands out in the group but as a group, they are still one of the better lines UofL will see this year.
Pitt’s linebackers have been very good this year with Solomon DeShields leading the way. He leads the team in tackles for loss and plays with impressive speed. Shane Simon is a transfer from Notre Dame who can handle blockers well and is a solid tackler. The issue that jumps out to me with this group is that they don’t run extremely well. With the way that Jawhar Jordan is running the ball, you have to wonder if he ends up with a lot of space in the second level.
Cornerback is an important position on this defense with all of the man coverage they run. The corners get left on an island a lot and they can be beaten on simple routes down the field. M.J. Devonshire has been a starter throughout his career at Pitt and before at Kentucky. He has great speed and has made some nice plays in coverage during his career. He will pair with Marquis Williams who has Pitt’s only interception on the year. They combined for four touchdowns on interceptions last season. They can be beaten, but they can also beat you.
Donovan McMillon has been a very good addition for Pitt as he leads the team in tackles. The Florida transfer has also been good in coverage and teams with Javon McIntyre to make up a good safety tandem. Jeff Brohm will likely look to create some big plays down the field after struggling to get his big-play offense going. These two might be up to the test if they end up being picked on.
—Louisville is 6-0 for the first time since 2013 and 3-0 in the ACC for the first time ever. A win over Pitt would give the Cardinals their first 7-0 start since 2012.
—Louisville is riding its first 7-game winning streak since 2014. The streak is the seventh-longest in the FBS, and tied for the 10th-longest in program history.
—Pitt has won six of the last eight games in this series and hasn’t lost to Louisville at home since 2012.
—Pitt has defeated at least one AP Top 25 team in each of the past seven seasons. The Panthers are 0-1 against Top 25 opponents so far this season.
—Louisville has outscored its opponents 41-0 in the first quarter so far this season and 48-0 over its last seven games.
—Pittsburgh will be celebrating Homecoming weekend during Saturday’s game against Louisville.
—Pittsburgh served as Louisville’s Homecoming game last season, a game the Cardinals won, 24-10.
—Louisville is looking to spoil an opposing team’s Homecoming in consecutive years for the first time since 1977-78. The Cardinals beat Virginia, 34-17, on UVA’s Homecoming weekend last season.
—Louisville’s offense enters the weekend averaging 467.3 yards per game, an average which ranks 20th nationally and third in the ACC.
—Pitt ranks 20th nationally and fourth in the ACC in total defense, surrendering 301.6 yards per game.
—Since 2015, Pat Narduzzi has directed Pitt to 41 victories in ACC play, the second-highest win total during that span. Pitt trails only Clemson (62).
—Louisville is 5-7 all-time in road games against Pittsburgh.
—Louisville is 1-2 in games against Pitt since joining the ACC.
—Saturday will mark Louisville’s first appearance in a game on The CW.
—Louisville has won 30 games in a row when holding teams to less than 300 yards of offense.
—Louisville is a 7.5-point favorite in this game according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The Cardinals are 5-0 straight up as a favorite so far this season.
—Louisville is 0-2-1 against the spread in away games so far this season.
—Pitt is is 0-4-1 against the spread this season and 0-2-1 ATS at home this season.
—Since 1978, 49 teams have gone off favored the week after upsetting Notre Dame. Only 12 of the 49 covered the spread and nine of those 12 were a double-digit favorite. Fifteen of the 49 lost outright and 11 of the last 13 have failed to cover dating back to 2011.
—Three times in the regular season, Pat Narduzzi has faced a team 6-0 or better during his time at Pitt. Twice the Panthers won outright — in 2016 when the 5-4 Panthers beat 9-0 Clemson 43-42 as a 21-point underdog, and in 2017 when 4-7 Pitt beat 10-0 Miami 24-14 as a 12-point underdog. In 2018, the 3-3 Panthers nearly beat 6-0 Notre Dame, losing 19-14 as a 21-point underdog.
—As a head coach, Jeff Brohm is 0-3 in games immediately following an upset win over a top 10 opponent. The Cardinals are coming off an upset of No. 10 Notre Dame last Saturday.
—Jack Plummer is the only player in Louisville history to win his first six games as the Cardinals’ starting quarterback.
—Louisville’s Brock Travelstead tied a school record with four field goals against Notre Dame, becoming the first player in school history to kick four field goals in a game for the second time in a season. He’s 10-of-13 on the season in field goals.
—Louisville is 3-4 in games played on Oct. 14 since the start of the Schnellenberger era. Included in those four are losses are the Brett Favre Hail Mary game against Southern Miss (1989), a road loss to Wyoming (1995), the Kerry Rhodes dropped interception game against Miami (2004), and a 45-42 loss to Boston College in Lamar Jackson’s final season (2017).
—Louisville is 80-28 all-time when playing as a team ranked in the AP Top 25 poll.
—Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi is 2-1 in game against Louisville.
—Louisville is 40-37 all-time in ACC games.
—Louisville is 15-23 all-time in ACC road games, including 2-0 this season.
—Louisville is 215-94-5 all-time during the month of October.
—Since 2019, Louisville is 23-4 when winning the turnover battle, and just 3-18 when losing it. The Cardinals have won the turnover battle three times this season, and matched Indiana (1), Boston College (0) and NC State (3) in turnovers in the other three games.
—Louisville is currently riding a consecutive game scoring streak that spans 293 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 10th-longest nationally.
—Louisville is 200-14 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.
—“We’ve got to get back to reality and get back to work and understand that if we don’t put the work in, we’re not going to win. That’s just how it works. If we don’t understand that, it’ll bite us in the rear. ... We just have to concentrate on one game at a time and Pittsburgh is a great challenge ahead of us.” —Jeff Brohm
—“It’ll be great to knock them off, mess up their whole season honestly because it would give them their first loss. That’s what we’re trying to do.” —Pitt LB Soloman DeShields
—“I’m just doing what God gave me the ability to do, and that’s just go out there and play football, play fast and physical. I stand on what I said two weeks ago, I feel like I’m one of the best backs in the nation. We have one of the better running back rooms as well.” —Jawhar Jordan
—“Our plan is good, our players are good, our plays are good, our coaching is good - we just got to execute. At the end of the day, if you’re not executing, no matter what team you play for, you’re not going to win football games. So we’ve just got to go execute, believe in our plan, believe in our own ability and I think that’s going to make a huge difference.” —Pitt quarterback Christian Veilluex
—“We had three top-five wins at Purdue in six years, and every time we won, the next week we lost. So I understand how this game works. Hopefully, our players do.” —Jeff Brohm
—”They’re very similar to Satterfield and what they did last year and what they did the year before during the COVID year.” —Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi
—“We’re just taking it week by week. We’ve got the 24-hour rule, (to) celebrate the win and then move on, get ready for the next opponent and that’s it.” —Ashton Gillotte
—“We’ve raised the bar here a little bit with this past win. f you want to be good, you’ve got to back it up every week. If you can’t back it up every week, then you’re really not that good.” —Jeff Brohm
Card Chronicle Prediction: Louisville 24, Pittsburgh 14
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.