Louisville Cardinals vs. North Carolina State Wolfpack
The Louisville Cardinals and the North Carolina State Wolfpack battle it out in Charlotte as they meet in the Belk Bowl. The Wolfpack are -1.5 point favorites over the Cardinals with an over/under point total set at 45.5.
Charlie Strong had a tough road ahead of him when he took over as Head Coach of the Louisville Cardinals but one of the best defensive minds in college football appears to have a plan in place. It has all started with recruiting at UL and Strong’s hiring of Clint Hurtt is already paying dividends in that area and by the end of the season they had won five of their last six games. One of Hurtt’s big recruits was QB Teddy Bridgewater who completed 66 percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions and as a true freshman he has a ton of potential and is only going to get better. Dominique Brown averages just 3.7 yards per carry, Vic Anderson is averaging 4.8 yards per carry, and Jeremy Wright averages 4.7 yards per carry but Louisville just doesn’t have a dominating back. Michaelee Harris has 37 catches, Eli Rogers has 34 catches, and Josh Chichester has 27 catches but once again there is no real star in this group. Defensively Louisville has nine interceptions, nine fumble recoveries, and 32 sacks and they allow 327.8 yards and 19.2 points per game. Dexter Heyman has 83 tackles, four sacks, and three interceptions and Hakeem Smith and Preston Brown each have 81 tackles. The Louisville defense will be taken to task again in this one as they play in what is really a road game.
The North Carolina State Wolfpack won three of their last four games and Tom O’Brien’s team racked up impressive wins over several bowl teams this year. NC State’s resume includes wins over Clemson, North Carolina, and Virginia and while they took some bad losses they bounced back well form what was a bad start to the year. Mike Glennon completed 62.4 percent of his passes with 28 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. James Washington averages 4.0 yards per carry for 852 yards and seven touchdowns. T.J. Graham matched Washington with 39 catches and he had five touchdowns while Jay Smith had 36 catches and Tobias Palmer had 35 catches each having four touchdowns. Defensively NC State had an impressive 24 interceptions, 12 fumble recoveries, and 33 sacks while they allowed 24.8 points and 351.9 yards per game. Earl Wolff had 99 tackles, Audie Cole had 98 tackles, and David Amerson had 11 interceptions during the regular season. Like their opponent in this one North Carolina State improved as the season went on.
Louisville is 6-0 against the spread against a team with a winning record, 12-1 against the spread in their last 13 games against ACC teams, and 7-1 against the spread in their last eight games overall. North Carolina State is 4-0-1 against the spread in their last five bowl games, 3-1-1 against the spread in their last five games against Big East teams, and 1-7 against the spread as a favorite of up to three points.
This game should belong to the defenses and even with the total dipping to 45.5 for my pick I am going to go with the under.