LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (4-0, 2-0) at NC STATE WOLFPACK (3-1, 1-0)
Game Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Carter-Finley Stadium: Raleigh, N.C.
Announcers: Anish Shroff (play-by-play), Andre Ware (analyst) and Paul Carcaterra (reporter)
Favorite: Louisville by 3.5
All-Time Series: Louisville leads, 8-4
Last Meeting: Louisville won 25-10 on Nov. 19, 2022 in Louisville
Louisville Depth Chart:
Game Day Guide in Raleigh:
Do YOU remember what happened the last time Louisville came to the Carter at Night during a Blackout?!?!— Tuffy Talk (@TuffyTalkNow) September 28, 2023
If you don’t, #PACKPRO @GermainePratt7 I believe can remind you!#GOPACK #BEATLOUISVILLE
‼️‼️‼️‼️ ⚫️⚫️⚫️⚫️ pic.twitter.com/ZnozaEsGuu
Excitement Level: 8.4
This feels like a biggie as far as both the big picture and keeping the current positive vibes going are concerned. Win in probably the most hostile road environment you’re going to see this season, and next week becomes wild.
Game Attire: Louisville football ringer tee under red Louisville football sweatshirt
Still ain’t broke.
Pregame Meal: Nothing
7 p.m. kick from home with two young kids means I’m probably eating at halftime or banking on a super late celebratory dinner.
Bold Prediction: No team ever leads by double figures in this game
Would love to be wrong about this one, as long as it’s the right type of wrong.
T.J. Capers Playing Alert Level: Cheese Grater (very, very low)
I have not heard any recent updates on Capers’ status, but we’re not changing the alert level.
Predicted Star of the Game: Jawhar Jordan
The PSOTG has been pretty on fire here, especially the last two weeks. Let’s make in three in a row, Jaws.
About NC State:
Louisville faces off with NC State this weekend which will be their first game against a team that currently has a winning record. It will be a test for a team that has been the more talented team each week and has yet to truly put together a complete game. The Wolfpack come into this game off of a close win over Virginia where they struggled to do much of anything on offense. Dave Doeren is in his 11th year and this year’s offense has been lacking in a lot of areas for a coach that is starting to wear out his welcome a bit with the fans.
I’ve openly questioned just how good Brennan Armstrong is for a few years now and from what I’ve seen this season, I’ll continue to do so. Armstrong is a “gamer”. He plays tough and he can make some plays with his legs that compliment his ability as a passer. But I just don’t see what others see when it comes to his passing ability. He doesn’t have a big arm and he is inaccurate too often.
Armstrong has been solid this season and I will give him credit for playing well without much help at all. He has looked good on the short and intermediate throws and I think that the offense will do more to focus on those types of plays as they just don’t have many deep threats. Louisville will have to shore up its defense in the middle of the field this weekend.
Running back is a revolving door of a position for the Wolfpack. Jordan Houston waited his turn for a few years to become the starter but then hit the transfer portal before the game last week. Marcel Allen got the most carries last week, so I’m assuming we will see the same this week. As with Boston College, it may not matter much as the Wolfpack just doesn’t run the ball well. Armstrong is their leader in carries and yards and it’s not very close.
KC Concepcion is a name that we should all get used to. The true freshman is the top receiver on the team and one of the top-ranked receivers in the conference in terms of receptions. He is a legit threat with the ball in his hands but they haven’t yet found a way to truly unlock him. He is only averaging 59 yards per game and about 10 yards per catch. UofL can’t let them figure it out this weekend.
The rest of the group has been fairly productive but no one truly stands out as a major threat so far. Keyon Lesane is a returning starter who has shown in the past that he can make plays. Bradley Rozner is a transfer from Rice who is a big target and a guy that they have targeted in big moments, and he has delivered. The real threat here, in my opinion, is true freshman, Juice Vereen. I loved him in high school as a recruit and he has been getting a lot of looks so far.
State has done a good job protecting Armstrong with some of their five sacks being due to him holding the ball too long. Where they haven’t done a good job is avoiding tackles for loss. The Wolfpack are among the worst in the country in tackles for loss allowed and it shows up in their rushing numbers. UofL hasn’t done much to force negative plays but if there is a game where that could change it would be this one.
If there’s one thing that Dave Doeren has done well at NC State it’s fielding a good defense. Tony Gibson is one of the most underrated defensive coordinators in the country and the Wolfpack do a great job of recruiting to their scheme. While the Wolfpack looks to have taken a step back this year, they still have been able to get plenty of sacks and turnovers with a veteran defense.
The defensive line is always a key in this scheme and State has some good players up front. Former four-star, Savion Jackson is back and looking to finally play a full season. Red Hibbler has been a pleasant surprise as a JUCO transfer with 3.5 sacks so far this year. Devin Vann rounds out a strong defensive end group with depth to burn and great size.
State has had to replace some key players inside over the last few years but they still do a good job of eating up blocks to let the linebackers run free. CJ Clark will likely get the start with Brandon Cleveland rotating in. The interior line will be key in this game as the Wolfpack has improved against the run over the last two weeks but it was a major issue in their first two games. Which run defense shows up?
Payton Wilson may be the most talented football player Louisville will see this year. There may be better players, but Wilson is a physical freak at 6-4/240 with a forty time of 4.49. Wilson showed up a few times in the Notre Dame game chasing down receivers downfield. He is on pace to lead the conference in tackles for the second time in his career and he has also made big plays this year with a game-sealing interception against UConn and 2.5 tackles for loss.
The linebacker group is rounded out by Devon Betty and Jaylon Scott. Both players are solid against the run and make some plays. Scott is a big hitter and I’ve been impressed with his speed to the ball. He has chased down some plays to the sideline that stood out to me. Caden Fordham and Jordan Poole are two young guys to keep an eye on as well. Both were solid recruits.
The secondary has always been good but not great for Doreren but this year they have left a bit to be desired. Sam Hartman carved them up for four touchdowns and Virginia had success with their true freshman quarterback. Aiden White is the star of the group after a super impressive sophomore season last year. He was All-ACC last season and didn’t allow a touchdown all year. He’s started off this season well and will likely be a high draft pick if he bolts for the NFL. He will be a test for Louisville’s receivers.
The opposite corner spot is manned by Shyheem Battle who is another veteran on this defense. Battle is a big corner but his production has fallen off each year after a stellar freshman season. His size could help with some of the short throws that we’ve seen from Louisville but UofL has just been able to run past people so far this year and we could see the same this weekend.
Safety is where Jeff Brohm has focused his passing attack and we should expect the same in this game. Devan Boykin and Sean Brown are new starters and they haven’t done much to make me think that they can stop the trend of Brohm putting pressure on safeties in coverage. Brown is second on the team in tackles, which could factor into stopping the run but I keep going back to Notre Dame owning the middle of the field in the passing game and I think UofL could do the same.
The last spot in the secondary is the nickel spot and Robert Kennedy has made the most impressive play of the season for State, in my opinion. He had a very nice pick-six against VMI where he showed outstanding speed. I think he could be a player to watch on the defense as the slot receivers have had a good start to the season for UofL.
—Louisville is 4-0 for the first time since the 2016 season and looking for its first 5-0 start since 2013.
—Louisville has only started a season 5-0 eight times in program history.
—Jeff Brohm is the third Louisville head football coach to begin his U of L career 4-0, joining Tom King and Bobby Petrino.
—NC State will be holding a Blackout Friday night against the Cards, where the team will sport all black glow-in-the dark uniforms.
—NC State hasn’t worn all black in a game since a 39-25 Thursday night win over Louisville in 2017.
—NC State has not lost a home night game since 2019.
—Louisville is 16-13 all-time in Friday night games, including a 39-34 victory over Georgia Tech in this year’s season-opener.
—The Cardinals have won 13 of their last 19 games played on Friday nights.
—NC State has won seven consecutive conference home openers.
—NC State’s last loss in a conference home opener came in 2015 against Louisville.
—Louisville leads the all-time series against NC State 8-4, but the Wolfpack has won three out of the last five and two out of the last three played in Raleigh.
—NFL legend Bill Cowher, the only former NC State player in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, will be officially inducted into Wolfpack Football’s Ring of Honor between the first and second quarters of Friday night’s game.
—NC State ranks third in the FBS in consecutive season starts of 3-1 or better with 12.
—Louisville’s current five-game winning streak (which dates back to last year’s Fenway Bowl win over Cincinnati) is its longest since the 2016 season.
—NC State has won 17 of its last 19 games in Carter-Finley Stadium.
—In 2022, NC State tied the school record for the longest home winning streak at 16 before falling in the last home game of the season. That streak, which tied the mark set under head coach Lou Holtz from 1972-75, was the sixth-best active home winning streak in the FBS at the time.
—Louisville is a 3.5-point favorite in this game according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The Cardinals have won 10 eight of their last 12 games when favored, including all four games so far this season.
—NC State is 0-4 against the spread so far this season.
—The last six games in this series have all been decided by two touchdowns or more.
—NC State senior linebacker Payton Wilson leads the ACC in both total tackles (46) and tackles per game (11.5).
—NC State punter Caden Noonkester leads the league in punting with a 44.7 average (15th in the FBS).
—Louisville has led by 21 points or more at halftime in three consecutive games. It’s U of L’s longest such streak since doing so in four straight games during the 1912 and 1913 seasons.
—NC State leads the ACC in third down conversion defense (.300).
—Louisville is looking to start 3-0 in the ACC for the first time since joining the conference in 2014. U of L’s last 3-0 start to a conference season came in the Big East in 2012.
—Louisville has only started a conference season with a 3-0 record six times in program history.
—Louisville leads all FBS teams in passes of 40+ yards and is tied for the lead in passes of 70+ yards.
—Louisville running back Jawhar Jordan leads the nation in yards per carry (9.6) and ranks eighth in total rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.
—Jordan leads the nation with seven plays of over 30 yards and is the only player in the nation with three plays of over 70 yards. He has touchdown runs of 74 and 72 and has a pass reception for 75 yards. He ranks second nationally with 678 all-purpose yards after four games this season, and average of 157.8 yards per game.
—Exactly a third of NC State’s receptions this season (33.3%) have been caught by true freshmen in 2023. KC Concepcion (22), Juice Vereen (4) and Kendrick Raphael (1) have 27 of the team’s 81 catches.
—Louisville defensive lineman Ashton Gillotte leads the nation in quarterback hurries (21) and total pressures (25) in 178 snaps played.
—Louisville ranks in the top-ten FBS rankings in eight different categories after the first four games: 1st - Opponent FGs (0.0%); 1st - Fumbles Lost (0); 5th - Total Offense (542.0); 5th - Rushing Offense (237.25); 6th - Tackles for Loss Allowed (13); 6th - Opponent red zone conversions (55.56%); 7th - 4th Down Conversions (83.33%); 9th - Scoring Offense (43.0).
—NC State head coach Dave Doeren is just two wins from tying the school record for coaching victories.
—Doeren is 3-5 in games against Louisville.
—Louisville is 39-37 all-time in ACC games.
—Louisville is 14-23 all-time in ACC road games.
—Louisville is 148-106-6 all-time during the month of September, including 4-0 this season.
—Louisville has won 29 games in a row when holding teams to less than 300 yards of offense.
—Since 2019, Louisville is 22-4 when winning the turnover battle, and just 3-18 when losing it. The Cardinals won the turnover battle in the first two games this season, and matched Indiana (1) and Boston College (0) in turnovers the last two weeks.
—Since 2018, Louisville is 8-0 when scoring 40-49 points, and 5-0 when scoring 50 or more.
—Louisville is currently riding a consecutive game scoring streak that spans 291 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’re excited to get on to the next challenge, and it will be a challenge. I think we’re gonna go into a really hostile environment that we haven’t seen yet this year. North Carolina State’s been able to win a lot of football games here in their recent past.” —Jeff Brohm
—“To win a big game ... it’s what I just told the team. You’re playing a team that’s undefeated in our league. We’re undefeated in our league. You’re on national television. It’s a night game. You’ve got a lot of reasons. Pick one to go out there and play as well as you can play. Within those games, there’s going to be guys that have moments for whichever team. We’d like it to be our team. Who that’s going to be, time to tell. These are the kind of games where sometimes legacy-type performances emerge.” —NC State head coach Dave Doeren
—“NC State plays an aggressive style defense. They give you a little different look than the traditional look with their fronts, and how they have guys on the edge, and their blitz packages. They’re very aggressive in their approach. I just think that they’re going to challenge you to make plays. You’re going to have to win some one-on-one battles, they’re going to load the box and stop the run. I just think they’re very well coached, and they play very aggressive.” —Jeff Brohm
—“We know we’re going to have to really dial in on everything they do on defense because they can switch up from 3-3 stack to the four down. It’s just bringing pressures and stopping penetration.” —Willie Tyler
—“They’re an explosive play offense, they have explosive players and they’ll take shots. So you’ve gotta do a good job of staying on top and defending deep balls and you have to pressure the quarterback. Not just with blitzes. You have to do different things to make it hard for him after the snap and not just let him pre-snap know everything that you’re in. It’s going to be that kind of game.” —NC State head coach Dave Doeren
—“Players love the uniform. The swag, all the things. The drip, as they call it. I’m excited for them. Any time we can do something that gets them excited about what we’re wearing. The all-black has always been a good look in our stadium for our guys.” —NC State head coach Dave Doeren
—“We’ve got to be precise with what we’re doing. I think we need to adjust and adapt the plan as well because they are going to be well-coached, well-schooled and they have a better quarterback. So I think having a little bit of creativity to slightly change the plan each week is important, especially on the road against NC State.” —Jeff Brohm
Card Chronicle Prediction: Louisville 27, NC State 24
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.