Location: Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, KY
Game Time: 7:30 ET on Saturday, September 15th
How To Watch: ACC Network Extra/ESPN3
Series History: Louisville leads the all-time series 19-12. The Cardinals have won the last nine meetings, including the most recent contest 63-34 back in 1998 under the direction of John L. Smith against Jack Harbaugh and WKU.
The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers are coming off a loss to FCS foe Maine which was one of the more depressing results for the program in recent history. Starting quarterback Drew Eckels, who has looked solid at times (when he’s had time to throw) under center is questionable with an upper body injury after taking a beating against Maine. That injury is partially due to WKU’s young offensive line still figuring things out. Wideout Lucky Jackson had one of the better games of his career this past weekend though with four catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns. WKU’s offense just needs to start putting together complete games.
Up the road in Louisville, former WKU head coach Bobby Petrino has the Cards out to a 1-1 start after a 51-14 loss to #1 Alabama and then took a while to get into gear in a 31-7 win against Indiana State. The Cards are figuring things out at quarterback after Jawon Pass couldn’t really get going in either of the first two games. He’s thrown for 341 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Through two games, Louisville’s offense has the fewest yards in the ACC (631).
Defensively, Louisville’s a little bit of a mystery. There’s only so much that you can glean from that week one game where they gave up 51 points to the top team in the nation. The same really goes for the week two win where they did what they were supposed to in holding an FCS team to seven points. Nevertheless, Louisville always has some electric players in their secondary who can take a pick back to the house if they get one. This year, Rodjay Burns is someone who falls into that category.
Overall, we know Louisville’s defense is going to bring a lot of pressure on whoever plays quarterback for WKU. Hopefully we some rapid improvement from the Tops offensive line to combat that so their offense can get going. On the flip side, WKU’s defense more or less needs to do the same thing. Pass and Malik Cunningham are both solid runners, so Masai Whyte and Ben Holt need to be prepared to chase them down when they get chased out of the pocket.
Louisville might not have a Heisman winner under center anymore, but there’s still plenty of talent at their skill positions and Bobby Petrino offenses know how to score lots of points. For seven of the first eight quarters of this season, WKU has looked like a team that struggles to score points. I don’t think the Tops keep pace in this one.
Louisville wins 31-14.