Well as we all know the game this past Saturday wasn't all that fun. The first 15 minutes completely killed any chance the Deacs had to win and it was a pretty boring game after that. Let's put it behind us and look forward to the next game on the schedule: the Louisville Cardinals.
Louisville comes into the game with a 3-4 record (2-2 in the ACC). They defeated N.C. State and Boston College, but lost to Florida State and Clemson. By no means were those bad losses, and other than the Houston game early in the season (which now looks like a much better loss), Bobby Petrino and his team has pretty much held serve.
It was a pretty difficult schedule to start the year, as Louisville has already faced off against four top 30 teams in the S&P+ Index. For reference, Louisville is ranked 33rd in these rankings, while Wake Forest brings it in at 97TH (WE'RE TOP 100!!!).
The good news for Cardinals fans is that the schedule gets significantly easier than it has been so far. Wake Forest on Friday is followed by Syracuse, Virginia, @Pitt, and @Kentucky to finish the season. According to Football Study Hall, Louisville is favorited in each of those games, with its win expectancy winding up at 6.45 wins, and presumably a bowl game to follow.
Overall Louisville has a stout defense, but lackluster offense, AKA almost every single other team in the ACC. This has resulted in a lot of ugly, close games that have come down to the wire. They got a 17-14 victory on Saturday over Boston College where they held the Eagles to just 79 total yards.
The good news for Wake Forest is that the Cards haven't proven to be an explosive team. After all the big plays the past two weeks against UNC and N.C. State, this game will hopefully prove to be a nice reprieve from that. So far on the season Louisville ranks 82nd in Explosiveness, while their defense ranks 11th nationally in that same statistic. While their offense may not have a lot of big plays, their defense doesn't yield many either (that's not good news for Wake).
Louisville has proven to be quite adept in the running game, both offensively and defensively, ranking 3rd in S&P on the offensive side, and 11th on the defensive side of things.
Freshman quarterback Lamar Jackson has proven quite the dual-threat, rushing 81 times for 612 yards and 6 touchdowns. For comparison, Kendall Hinton has rushed 60 times for 399 yards and 6 touchdowns. Needless to say, that is a big part of the Louisville game plan, and Mike Elko will have his hands full figuring out how to stop that attack.
The passing game has proven to be a little more difficult for Jackson, as he has thrown 7 interceptions to go with 6 touchdowns. He also has taken 18 sacks on the season for a 10.3% sack rate. Once again for comparison, Hinton and Wolford have an 8.1% and 9.0% sack rate for the Deacs. That means Louisville gets sacked more frequently than Wake Forest. I know that may be hard to believe, but stats have never ever lied before.....so it's obviously right.
Overall, Football Study Hall has Louisville at a 72% win probability, which projects approximately to a 10 point winning margin (31-21).
We will have a lot more this week on Louisville, including an in-depth preview on Friday morning, but this is a good precursory overview of the Cardinals and a primer on what to expect Friday night.
Head over to Card Chronicle for all things Louisville as we lead up to the game.