LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (9-1, 6-1) at MIAMI HURRICANES (6-4, 2-4)
Game Time: Noon
Location: Hard Rock Stadium: Miami, Fla.
Announcers: Sean McDonough (play-by-play), Greg McElroy (analyst) and Molly McGrath (sideline reporter)
Favorite: Miami by 1
All-Time Series: Miami leads, 11-3-1
Last Meeting: Miami won 47-34 on Sept. 19, 2020 in Louisville
Louisville Depth Chart:
Game Day Guide in Miami:
Fuck Louisville. Fuck a baseball bat. Fuck Mark McGwire. Fuck a Cardinal. Fuck Charlie Strong’s turtleneck. That’s pretty much it. Go Canes!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/EM2oWyvcSR— UinMiami (@UinMiami) November 17, 2023
Excitement Level: 9.1
In one afternoon we can lock up our first trip to a conference championship game and our first 10-win season in a decade, and we can do it while winning in a place where we’ve never won before. It’s been a while since we’ve played a November conference game with this much significance.
Game Attire: Red script Louisville hoodie
Undefeated this season, plus matching the helmets.
Pregame Meal: Eggs and Trader Joe’s bar
Keeping it simple like the ideal Cardinal offense.
Bold Prediction: Brock Travelstead doesn’t miss a field goal or extra point
Swung too big last week. Now we’ve gotta send some good juju to our guy Brock.
Jeff Brohm Tick Play Alert Level: Deep Almond (strong)
It’s been a few weeks. It’s time.
Predicted Star of the Game: Ashton Gillotte
We’re going to have to both stuff the run and make Tyler Van Dyke uncomfortable to win this game. Let’s roll with the guy who can help do both.
Miami moved on from Manny Diaz two years ago in part because his offenses never did quite enough to win games. They went out and hired Mario Cristobal with the expectation that he would not only improve the offense but that he would do so with improved talent. While the talent part has definitely come true on paper, Cristobal’s offense has been fairly average in his first two seasons.
The key to the struggles of the offense has been the lack of consistent play at quarterback. Tyler Van Dyke has been unbelievably hard to predict and his play has gotten worse as the season has gone on. He hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in a month and he was benched last game until Emory Williams was injured late in the game. TVD can be a good quarterback. It’s been seen in the past and in flashes this season. But he has become a turnover machine with no positive plays to balance things out.
The running back position has been very good for the Canes as they have stockpiled talent and used it well. They rotate four running backs with Henry Parrish being the normal starter. Donald Chaney and Mark Fletcher split most of the other carries while Ajay Allen has gotten carries in the rotation.
Parrish and Chaney are the homerun hitters out of the group with great speed and elusiveness. Parrish is one of my favorite backs to watch as he runs hard and finishes carries strong. Cheney seems to be a bit more consistent but he can also break a big run. Fletcher is one of the best freshmen in the country and he is also a very big back. He is tall and big and he reminds me of a Derrick Henry or Eddie George type of back because of how upright he runs.
Just like the backfield, the Canes have four receivers that they can rely on. Xavier Restrepo leads the team in catches and he is the security blanket for TVD. He’s mostly a slot guy that moves the chains but he can make plays after the catch if he has space. Colbie Young is Miami’s big play threat on the outside. At 6-5/215 he can be a nightmare with contested catches but he also has great speed and has shown the ability to take a short pass and go the distance.
The player that stands out to me on offense is Jacolby George at receiver. He is a dynamic player in just about every aspect with the only thing holding him back being quarterback play. George has put up his best numbers against the best teams on the schedule. Against Texas A&M, UNC, and FSU, his numbers have been 16/372/23.25/6 and I think he could have actually had bigger numbers with better play from the quarterbacks. He and Breshard Smith who is averaging 20 yards per touch on the season are the two wildcards in this matchup, in my opinion.
Miami’s offensive line has a lot of talent but it has been pretty average as a group. Matt Lee is one of the better centers in the country while Francis Mauigoa is the best freshman offensive lineman in the country. Miami also has Javon Cohen at left guard who transferred in after a strong career at Alabama. But, I think this group is streaky in both pass blocking and run blocking and this has caused some issues for the offensive consistency. This is likely the second-best offensive line Louisville will face in the regular season, but they have some cracks that can be exploited.
Mario Cristobal may be an offensive coach but his team is being led by a defense that can take over games in different ways. Lance Guidry has started off his first season with a lot of good performances by his defense with some very rough moments to contribute to losses. If he can get his very talented group to play to its potential, Louisville could be in for a long day.
Former Louisville recruit Rueben Bain has been one of the bright spots for this defense with 6.5 sacks on the season. He had a breakout game against Clemson earlier this year and the buzz around him became a big story. He is a bit undersized but he is one of those talented players that knows how to use their smaller size to their advantage. He gets into the pads of blockers and uses his leverage and athleticism to gain the advantage.
Leonard Taylor was the player that was expected to have a huge year for Miami but the numbers just haven’t materialized this season. Taylor entered the season as a top-5 pick in the 2024 draft and while that may still happen, the buzz has dissipated. With a lot of pride and bragging rights on the line, I think it may be worthwhile to tab Taylor as a player who could have a big game.
Francisco Mauigoa gets a lot of notice as one of the biggest recruits in Canes history but his older brother Francisco is the biggest addition to the program. Francisco leads the team in forced fumbles, tackles for loss, and sacks while also putting up great numbers as a tackler. As a veteran player, it is obvious that he understands the importance of playing within a system but his athleticism and motor lead to him making some plays that are just talent-driven.
Former Louisville linebacker KJ Cloyd mans the other linebacker spot and he has had a solid season. He has been a rotational starter but he had a strong game against FSU last weekend. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t carry that good performance into the game on Saturday.
Miami’s secondary has been a mixed bag this year with the cornerbacks being very inconsistent and the safeties not living up to their talent or experience. Te’Cory Couch has been a good player for Miami but the lack of playmaking ability has been noticeable when watching the Canes. Demari Brown showed up on the highlights last week as he defended Keon Coleman. While the true freshman put forth a great effort, I’m not sure putting him up against one of the best receivers in the country made sense.
There’s a pretty fair argument to be made that the Canes have the most talented safeties in the country. Kam Kinchens is one of my personal favorite players in the country. After leading the power five in interceptions last season, he is on pace to finish the year with the same amount of picks again this year. This dude is all over the field and he is a true ballhawk. With the struggles Jack Plummer has had with interceptions, I don’t thnk there is a more important player in the game than Kinchens.
James Williams is the other safety in the battery and the former 5-star is extremely talented and extremely inconsistent. He makes a couple of plays in every game that shock you a bit but the mistakes typically outnumber the big plays. Williams has a skill-set and stature that makes you think of Isiah Simmons, Sean Taylor, and Derwin James but he can’t get out of his own way at times. UofL has to hope that he continues to not meet expectations because he can change a game in a hurry with his big play potential.
—Louisville is looking for its first 10-1 start to a season since 2013, which is also the last time a Cardinal team produced double-digit victories.
—A win would give Louisville its seventh 10-win season in program history.
—For the first time on Saturday, Louisville and Miami will compete for a newly created trophy unique to college football – The Schnellenberger Trophy, which features the actual western dress boots, now bronzed, worn by Coach Howard Schnellenberger when he led both programs to national prominence.
—Schnellenberger was instrumental in elevating both the Miami and Louisville football programs to unprecedented heights. After winning the program’s first national championship at Miami, Schnellenberger became Louisville’s head coach, where he took over a moribund program in 1985 and in five years led the Cardinals to a 10-1-1 record and Fiesta Bowl triumph over nationally ranked Alabama.
—At halftime of Saturday’s game, Miami will retire the No. 13 of 1989 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Gino Torretta.
—Miami is 6-0-1 all-time against Louisville in games played in Miami.
—A win for Louisville over Miami on Saturday would clinch a spot in the ACC Championship Game for the Cardinals.
—A win for the Cardinals would also match their best ACC record since joining the conference in 2014. Louisville also went 7-1 in league play in 2016.
—Miami is one of just 11 teams in the FBS to have started the same five players on the offensive line in all of its games this season; the Hurricanes are the only such team in the ACC.
—Louisville has won four one possession games so far this season, its most in a season since 2015.
—Louisville has five come-from-behind victories so far this season, its most in a season since 2014.
—The Louisville defense is averaging 2.7 sacks per game, which ranks 24th in the country.
—U of L’s 11 interceptions as a defense are the 19th-most of any team in the FBS.
—Louisville has outscored its opponents 69-7 in the first quarter so far this season. A Pitt touchdown represents the only opening quarter points surrendered by the Cardinals since their regular season finale last season.
—Louisville is 19-0 over the past five seasons when shutting out its opponent in the first quarter.
—Louisville RB Jawhar Jordan is second in the ACC in rushing with 976 yards and needs just 24 yards to become the school’s 23rd 1,000-yard rusher in a season.
—Louisville has held five of its last six opponents to under 100 yards rushing.
—Louisville is a 1-point underdog in this game according to DraftKings Sportsbook. It’s just the second time this season the Cardinals haven’t been favored. U of L defeated Notre Dame, 33-20, as an underdog back in October.
—Miami is allowing just 1.3 sacks per game, the 19th-best rate in the country.
—Miami is one of just 20 teams in all of the FBS allowing fewer than 315.0 yards per game in 2023.
—Louisville is 10-15 all-time in games on the ABC Network. The Cards defeated Notre Dame, 33-20, on the network earlier this season.
—Louisville is 1-1 in true road games this season, coming back to defeat NC State 13-10 on Sept. 29 and dropping a 38-21 decision to Pitt on Oct. 14. The Cards are 3-1 away from home overall.
—Miami LB Francisco Mauigoa ranks No. 7 in the nation and No. 1 in the ACC with an average of 1.5 tackles for loss per contest.
—Louisville DE Ashton Gillotte ranks sixth in the country in sacks (10) and eighth in the country in forced fumbles (3).
—Louisville has played 13 straight games without allowing the opponent to score on its opening drive. The Cards have scored on their opening drive seven times in that span, six times with a touchdown.
—Miami has thrown 13 interceptions as a team this season, more than all but 19 teams in the FBS. Tyler Van Dyke, who will start for the Hurricanes on Saturday, has thrown 12 of those picks.
—Louisville has won 32 of its last 33 games when holding teams to less than 300 yards of offense. Its only loss in such a situation came earlier this season against Pittsburgh.
—Louisville has won 14 straight games when holding its opponent scoreless in the first half.
—Louisville S Devin Neal ranks ninth in the country with four interceptions.
—Jeff Brohm is just the second coach in U of L history to win nine games in his first season, joining Bobby Petrino, who went 9-4 in his first season with the Cardinals in 2003.
—Louisville is 162-174-52 all-time during the month of November.
—Miami is averaging 3.3 sacks per game, which ranks No. 7 overall in the country.
—Louisville’s six plays of 70 yards or more this season are the most of any team in the country.
—Louisville ranks third in the nation in Red Zone Defense (66.7%) and fourth in field goals allowed (6).
—Miami head coach Mario Cristobal is 1-0 in games against Louisville, defeating the Cardinals 24-17 when he was the head coach at Florida International in 2012.
—This will be Louisville head coach Jeff Brohm’s first game against Miami.
—The Louisville defense is allowing opponents to convert on just 28 percent of their third down plays, the sixth-best rate in the FBS.
—Miami ranks sixth in the country in run defense, allowing only 86 yards per game on the ground along with only 2.8 yards per carry allowed.
—Miami boasts two transfers from Louisville: Linebacker KJ Cloyd and WR Tyler Harrell.
—Miami linebackers coach Derek Nicholson served in the same position for the Cards from 2020-22.
—Miami hasn’t lost back-to-back home regular-season finales since 2010 and 2011. It lost last year’s home finale to Pitt.
—Louisville is 83-29 all-time and 4-1 this season when playing as a team ranked in the AP Top 25 poll. The Cards are No. 9 in this week’s poll and No. 10 in the College Football Playoff Rankings.
—Miami is 4-0 this season when WR Xavier Restrepo averages 12 yards per catch, and 2-4 when he doesn’t.
—After losing to No. 4 Florida State, 27-20, last week, Miami will be playing a top 10 opponent in back-to-back regular season games for the first time since 1992.
—Louisville is 43-38 all-time in ACC games.
—Louisville has won the coin toss in eight of its 10 games so far this season. The Cardinals have deferred and gotten a defensive stop after all eight coin toss victories.
—Since 2019, Louisville is 26-4 when winning the turnover battle, and just 3-19 when losing it. The Cardinals’ only loss this season came in the only game where they lost the turnover battle.
—Louisville is +8 in turnover margin this season, while Miami is -5.
—Louisville is currently riding a consecutive game scoring streak that spans 297 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.
—“You need to play your best football at the end of the year. We found a way to make a really good comeback in the last game when we had a time there where we were struggling. So we’ve just got to kind of regroup. Pick the pieces up and understand that it’s going to take our best performance in order to beat Miami.” —Jeff Brohm
—“You got to play well on special teams and you got to play well on defense to win these road games. The road games that we’ve won, we’ve done that. The road game that we didn’t win, we did not play good on defense. We did not play with any energy or enthusiasm. The numbers were okay, but the reality is that wasn’t the story of the game. The story of the game is, we had a chance to win the game if we would have played as well as we could play on defense, and we did not do that. It was for due to a lack of intensity, in my opinion, and energy.” —Ron English
—“I think Louisville is good – not anti-Louisville at all. I’m really looking forward to have Jeff Brohm on the show on Saturday. But I’m going to go Miami. I think Miami wins the game. Louisville will still wind up in the ACC Championship and will give the Seminoles a challenge once they get there.” —ESPN’s Rece Davis
—“We can’t really get caught up in their record. Looking at them, they’re good team. They’re fast and physical, of course we know that.” —Devin Neal
—“Well of course, I love Coach Schnellenberger and Beverlee and their family. They’ve done not only a lot for me, but really for this program here and at the University of Miami. You know, Coach Schnellenberger was a real football guy that could talk the talk and walk the walk and took on every challenge ahead of him full speed ahead with no fear, and his players and teams responded.” —Jeff Brohm
—“I love Coach Schnellenberger. I was recruited by him. My brother was recruited by him. He spent many, many days and nights at the house recruiting us. I more fond of the pipe than the boots, quite honestly. I think it’s the right type of honor to honor Coach Schnellenberger, what he did for the University of Miami, what he has done for the University of Louisville, what he represents in terms of football.” —Miami head coach Mario Cristobal
—“When you watch these guys on film, they might be the most talented team that we’ve seen to date on the defensive side of the ball. They’re big up front, they’re athletic, they’re good at the linebacker position, they run and make plays. The secondary has good size and speed and looks the part and play plays fast. This team is talented, without question.” —Jeff Brohm
—“Being a quarterback at Miami, you got to be tough, you know? You got to have thick skin. You got to be a competitor. (Tyler Van Dyke) is all that. He handled last week like a pro. Which means disappointed, upset, really fought hard all week, and it was a great week of practice by both guys, in fact, at the end of the week. So I felt like, man, we’ve made a lot of progress, felt like as a staff. And as players together, we did a better job of putting things together, knowing that is going to be a difficult team to move the ball against, particularly through the air, where they had excelled. But because of his performance last week, because of his determination, his past successes, you know, that’s what your job as a coach is, is to provide clarity. Remove the clutter and make people better, and he is, he’s done really, really well. He’s handled everything really well, and he has confidence from his teammates and the coaches.” —Miami head coach Mario Cristobal
—“I think probably everybody’s looked at the internet, and looked at the scenarios. When I’ve tried to look at it, I can’t figure it out. I only thing I know is that if we win, good things will happen. So that’s what we got to do, we gotta go with the game. To go to Miami and find a way to win on their home field would be a huge accomplishment, if we can get that done, in itself.” —Jeff Brohm
Card Chronicle Prediction: Miami 30, Louisville 20
Let’s make it 2-0 when I’m worried about a loss this season.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.