LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (7-1, 4-1) vs. VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES (4-4, 3-1)
Game Time: 3:30 p.m.
Location: L&N Stadium: Louisville, Ky.
Television: ACC Network
Announcers: Chris Cotter (play-by-play), Mark Herzlich (analyst) and Ashley Stroehlin (sideline reporter)
Favorite: Louisville by 10
All-Time Series: Virginia Tech leads, 6-2
Last Meeting: Virginia Tech won 42-35 on Oct. 31, 2020 in Louisville
Louisville Depth Chart:
Game Day Guide:
@petebvt I hope VT goes out and shocks everyone, Louisville fans seem insufferable and thinking they can play Enter Sandman before some games fuels the fire ⛽️ .— mitchell maddox (@thaRealMitcheLL) October 31, 2023
Hokies for the W #BeatLouisville #HokieNation #VT
Excitement Level: 8.8
Probably the most impactful November home football game that Louisville has played since .... 2012? 2016?
Once again, this is a very big deal.
Game Attire: Black U of L quarter zip over red and white Louisville football tee.
Pairing the outfit with the uniforms. Feels right.
Pregame Meal: Cheese bagel, Trader Joe’s breakfast bar
Late breakfast Saturday.
Bold Prediction: Louisville does not trail in this game
We’ve hit three of the last four here. Let’s keep it rolling.
Jeff Brohm Tick Play Alert Level: Burnt Sienna (strong)
I think the Jawhar Jordan fake flea flicker qualified last week, but I feel like the chances are even stronger this week, especially if the game is tight in the second or third quarters.
Predicted Star of the Game: Devin Neal
Kyron Drones’ former teammate at Baylor makes a handful of enormous plays against the redshirt sophomore signal caller.
About Virginia Tech:
The Virginia Tech Hokies started this season as a nearly sure win for Louisville and that seemed to be the case after a few weeks into the season. However, Brent Pry has gotten his team to turn things around over the last month and the Hokies will be playing for a chance to take over second place in the ACC this weekend.
Pry has a defensive background and his offenses haven’t been all that great early on in his tenure. But, just like all good defensive coaches, he has been able to ride strong play from a talented quarterback to get things going. Kyron Drones showed some flashes at Baylor as a backup but he has really broken out as a talented runner and passer over the last handful of weeks for VT.
Drones is a big quarterback and he runs the ball really well in short-yardage situations as well as in the open field. He could be more accurate as a passer but I’ve been impressed with his deep ball. He puts it out in front of receivers and lets them run under it. He has also given the offense confidence to push the ball down the field. It has been a very big part of the improvement overall as they run the ball well and force teams to single-cover their receivers.
Bhayshul Tuten is one of the better running backs that Louisville will see this season. He hasn’t put up the numbers that some others have but he is a very strong runner and he plays like a guy who was overlooked as a recruit. Tuten was a star at North Carolina A&T last season before joining the Hokies but he is an obvious power-five talent and he’s starting to show it.
The Hokies have another back in Malachi Thomas who is a bit bigger and a little faster in the open field. he is a long strider and once he gets out in the open he can really get going. Tech likes to run the football and they will use both backs and Drones in a variety of ways to control the ball. They stress the edges well with tosses and option plays. They’ll use Drones as a runner to get a numbers advantage. They will also run plenty of option for misdirection. This will be a solid test for a much improved UofL defense.
Louisville hasn’t had to face many good offenses over the last handful of weeks and the receivers have been a big factor in that. This week they will see another group of receivers that have been less than impressive. However, they have had some great moments this season with some very big plays.
Jaylin Lane and Da’quan Felton have both shown great speed and big play ability over the middle of the field and down the sidelines. Lane is the smaller of the two and his quickness as a route-runner stands out. He is the player to watch in my opinion as teams have seemed to figure out that the middle of the field is an issue for the Cards pass defense. Stephen Gosnell is another player to be on the watch for as a possession receiver to move the chains.÷/ BGHBW2DD B< MWY.,
Tech’s offensive line is ranked in the 100s when it comes to pass blocking and run blocking per PFF. They are also ranked poorly in sacks allowed and tackles for loss allowed. While some of this is due to quarterback play, it stands out when you watch them that their running backs aren’t getting a lot of space to work with on running plays. This is the major advantage for Louisville this weekend and they have to take advantage. Pitt has a porous line as well and they had no issue with UofL’s front all game.
The Virginia Tech program has long been known for the special teams and defensive prowess but that has changed since Frank Beamer retired. Tech still honors Beamer and long-time defensive coordinator Bud Foster with the lunch pail tradition that Foster started years ago. Brent Pry was a graduate assistant under Foster and he is working to rebuild a proud defense for the Hokies.
Tech has one of the best pass rushes in the country and it is led by Antwuan Powell-Ryland at defensive end. Powell-Ryland leads the ACC in tackles for lost and sacks and he is a terror off the edge. The Hokies defensive line would rank 14th in the country by itself in sacks and the group outside of Powell-Ryland does a good job of getting after the quarterback no matter who is in the game. This is by far the best pass rush that UofL has seen so far this season.
On the flip side for the defensive line is the run defense which is very not good. VT is allowing more than four yards per carry and PFF ranks them 127th in the country. They’ve allowed 200+ rushing yards in four separate games this year. For Context, UofL has only allowed 100+ yards in two games so far. However, VT has only allowed 35 rushing yards total over their last two games. That includes zero yards allowed last weekend against Syracuse.
I think the strength of this defense is the linebackers. Alan Tisdale is a veteran presence in the middle and he is one of my favorite players to watch in the conference. The top player in the group, however, is Keli Lawson. The sophomore is racking up stats and making big plays. He leads the team in tackles and he’s recorded just about every havoc stat possible so far this year. We all saw how Payton Wilson made plays for NC State against Louisville. Lawson may not have Wilson’s talent and experience but he is the same type of player for this defense.
The Hokie pass rush has not turned into much help in the overall pass defense. VT is among the top teams in the country in yards allowed per game but it’s a misleading number due to the fact that teams can just run the ball all game. Tech only has four interceptions on the year and they’re allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete nearly 60% of their passes. Those numbers aren’t “bad” but they are pretty average.
Dorian Strong is the top member of the secondary in my opinion and it seems like forever ago when I was writing about him matching up with Dez Fitzpatrick. Strong is one of a couple of players for VT that have been around for a long time. The lanky corner has been a starter since he arrived on campus and he is a steady contributor at one corner spot.
The rest of the group is solid but no one really stars for this group. Mansoor Delane had a strong 2022 season with 8 PBUs but he hasn’t made many plays so far this year. Jalen Stroman is another good player at safety along with Nasir Peoples. Louisville will almost certainly run the ball a lot against this defense, so it will be something to watch for if these safeties have to tackle a lot in space at the second level.
—Louisville has won nine consecutive home games, the fifth longest active streak in the country and the fifth longest streak in school history.
—During its home winning streak, the Cardinals have covered the spread in all nine of their victories.
—Saturday’s game between Louisville and Virginia Tech is a matchup of the only two teams in the ACC with one conference loss. Florida State sits alone atop the league standings with a perfect record.
—Despite this being Louisville’s 10th season in the ACC, this is just the second league meeting between the Cardinals and Virginia Tech. The Hokies won 42-35 at L&N Stadium in 2020. U of L isn’t scheduled to play a game in Blacksburg until the 2025 season.
—Louisville is 46-8 all-time and 2-0 this season in home games when playing as a team ranked in the AP top 25 poll. The Cardinals are No. 15 in this week’s AP poll and No. 13 in the first College Football Playoff Rankings.
—Virginia Tech enters Saturday with 30 sacks, the most of any team in the ACC and the fourth most of any team in the country.
—Louisville’s last win over Virginia Tech came in 1992 when current head coach Jeff Brohm quarterbacked the Cardinals to a 21-17 home victory.
—Louisville has just one player, Cam’Ron Kelly, from the state of Virginia on its roster. Virginia Tech has no players from the state of Kentucky on its roster.
—Marcus Vick is a douche.
—Louisville is a 10-point favorite in this game according to DraftKings Sportsbook. It’s the eighth time in nine games that the Cardinals have been favored.
—Virginia Tech special teams coordinator/tight ends coach Stu Holt spent three seasons on the Louisville staff in the same roles (2019-2021)
—Louisville is looking to start 7-1 in a season for the first time since 2016.
—Louisville RB Jawhar Jordan leads the ACC in rushing with 824 yards and needs just 176 yards to become the school’s 23rd 1,000-yard rusher in a season.
—Virginia Tech DL Antwaun Powell-Ryland has nine sacks on the season, the most of any player in the ACC and the fourth-most of any player in the country.
—Louisville has outscored its opponents 62-7 in the first quarter so far this season. A Pitt touchdown three weeks ago marked the first opening quarter points surrendered by the Cardinals since their regular season finale last season.
—With two sacks against Duke, defensive lineman Ashton Gillotte ranks sixth in the country in sacks at 1.06 per game. The junior has had two games with multiple sacks this season and needs just 2.5 to crack the school’s top-10 single-season sacks list. The Boca Raton, Fla. native has been credited with 18.5 sacks, which ranks 11th in school history.
—Louisville has held each of its last four opponents to less than 100 yards rushing.
—Louisville has won 31 of its last 32 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 is averaging 41.9 points per game at home this season.
—The Louisville defense is allowing opposing offenses to convert on just 29.2 percent of their third down attempts, the ninth best rate in the country.
—Louisville ranks third in the country in red zone defense, allowing nine touchdowns on just 14 attempts.
—Louisville is 8-7 all-time in games played on Nov. 4. Their most recent game on the date was a 56-49 win over Memphis in 2004.
—Louisville is 160-174-52 all-time during the month of November.
—Louisville has gone over 400 yards of offense in three of its four home games this season.
—Louisville is 81-29 all-time and 2-1 this season when playing as a team ranked in the AP Top 25 poll.
—Louisville is 41-38 all-time in ACC games.
—Since 2019, Louisville is 24-4 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 currently riding a consecutive game scoring streak that spans 295 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.
—”Obviously Louisville is a really, really good football team. Very impressed. Offense, defense, kicking game. I’ve known Coach Brohm from being in the Big Ten and coaching against him. Got a ton of respect for him and his time at Purdue and the improvements they made there. We’ve got our hands full. Big challenge. Talented tailback. Really tough, stingy defense.” —Virginia Tech head coach Brent Pry
—“I don’t think it’s too complicated. We’re blocking everything else out until the next game. Looking at anything other than the next game as a team and as coaches can get you in trouble. I’ve been burned enough times and I’m sure others have as well. It’s as simple as let’s improve this week, get better, and try to go win this next football game. I think looking at whatever happens at the end is great when the season is over, but until then it is how do we find a way to beat Virginia Tech.” —Jeff Brohm
—“We don’t think about (the ACC championship). I’d be disappointed if somebody was. I mean, we work really hard on focusing on the next opponent. These guys understand and know that that’s part of the key to our success, to us improving. Anytime you look ahead, (you) get your butt beat.” —Virginia Tech head coach Brent Pry
—”I’m really happy it’s in Louisville. It would be nice to go play in Blacksburg and Lane Stadium again, but being in Louisville will be just as good.” —Bryan Hudson
—“It’s out there, it’s kind of in the back of everyone’s mind. But the forefront is it’s a one game season. Like Coach Brohm, like everyone’s talked about all season, we have that mentality of ‘Virginia Tech is the only game on our schedule right now.’ We’re not really concerned with other things.” —Eric Miller
—“I don’t think there’s a magic wand that we wave because we’re on the road. We’ve been able to improve week-by-week. I think some of those early losses, there was different things going on with our football team. This is certainly challenging. I think you look at Louisville; they’ve played very well at home. A couple of their struggles, the output — they won at North Carolina State, but it was a 13-10 game. Their defense played lights-out. They go to Pitt in a sloppy rain-fest and don’t look like themselves and lose the game. So it’s always a little bit more challenging on the road. Obviously for us, our crowd, our fanbase is advantageous. But as we gain maturity as a team and we continue to kind of grow and develop, I expect us to be able to handle road challenges better.” —Virginia Tech head coach Brent Pry
—“I kind of learned some of the base fundamentals and things like that (at Virginia Tech). I wouldn’t trade my experiences there for anything. I think that definitely helped shape me and moving to the University of Louisville and all the experiences and connections I’ve been able to build here have just projected me into the player that I am.” —Bryan Hudson
—“It’s OK to look at. It’s fine. You want to want them to see what can happen if you do things well and if you perform at a high level, because everyone else is going to see it and yes, I’m going to see it on my phone. My family is, our players’ families. But things crumble real fast if you lose. So it’s as simple as just trying to go to work.” —Jeff Brohm
Card Chronicle Prediction: Louisville 30, Virginia Tech 26
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.