The 5 and 4 Louisville Cardinals travel to Raleigh, NC on Saturday, just one elusive win away from bowl eligibility. But more than bowl eligibility is at stake as Scott Satterfield leads his team on the continuous road to recovery. In a season where the bar was set extremely low, the Cardinals have already exceeded most of the professional punditry’s expectations. Attaining a bowl game, regardless of its caliber, would be the feather in the cap that signals a far more rapid then ever dreamed of return to legitimacy.

READ: Blankenbaker’s Stat Comparison

Standing in the way for Louisville’s penultimate regular season away contest are the 4 and 5 Wolfpack of N.C. State. Much depleted and often defeated, Dave Doeren is leading his squad through the ringer with three straight losses. Most recently the Wolfpack had their turn in the crucible that is Clemson, and now look to recover as they too seek bowl eligibility needing two wins against any combination of Louisville, Georgia Tech, and North Carolina.

Game Info:

Louisville: 5-4 Overall / 3-3 ACC
N.C. State: 4-5 Overall / 1-4 ACC

DATE: Saturday 16 Nov 2019
TIME: 7:30 p.m. EST
LOCATION: Carter-Finley Stadium
(Raleigh, NC)
WATCH: ACC Network
Tailgate – 44°F Mostly cloudy
Chance of scattered rain showers
Blustery w/ wind gusts up to 25 mph
At Kickoff – 39°F Mostly cloudy
Slight chance of widely scattered rain showers
Blustery w/ wind gusts up to 25 mph
End Of Game – 37°F Mostly cloudy
Slight chance of widely scattered rain showers
Blustery w/ wind gusts up to 25 mph

READ: Buckethatism – Miami

War Of Attrition

Only one word is needed to describe N.C. State this season, and that word is injuries. Seven players are now out for the season with five of them having been starters. Coach Doeren has had to dig deep to fill the trenches and as such N.C. State has played more freshmen this season than any other Power 5 school apart from Clemson. In fact, against Clemson the Wolfpack had zero senior or graduate starters. Six of the offensive starters were freshmen.

While Doeren is highly acclaimed for his player development it’s nothing if not unfair to expect anymore from his young squad. After trying three players at QB (sound familiar?) the Wolfpack have settled on redshirt freshman Devin Leary to lead the way. Nothing against the kid, but his accuracy leaves a lot to be desired. Neither does Leary present much of a threat on the ground. Suffice to say that if the Cardinals can bring effective pressure they could have a field day on the other side of the line.

When the Cardinals can’t stop things behind the line they’ll contend with another freshman in the person of leading rusher Zonovan Knight. Not much needs to be said apart from the fact that Knight is averaging 58.7 yards per game with just four touchdowns in nine games. Through the air, the primary target for Leary has been junior Emeka Emezie who accounts for less than 50 yards per game and has one touchdown on the season. It feels like beating a dead horse, but facts are facts.

As for the Wolfpack’s defensive prowess? Well, expect more of the same, except in this case they have company. Louisville remains firmly at 14th out of 14 in the ACC defensively, but right next door sits N.C. State.

The Pack are allowing 37.0 PPG against ACC opponents to the Cardinals 41.8 with the only distinguishing factor being Louisville’s ability to counterattack on offense. The Wolfpack? Not so lucky, as they’ve been outscored by 100 combined points in the last three games alone. And while you might be impressed by their sacks total, keep in mind 26 of those were in the first six games. They’ve had just three sacks in the past three contests. As for the aforementioned injuries, the secondary has suffered the most with three of the top four cornerbacks being among those out for the season.

Against a Louisville team with a slew of offensive talent it will be a return to the scenario played out in games against Wake Forest, Boston College, and Florida State. Even if Louisville’s defense hasn’t found the magic cure by Saturday night, they can easily counterbalance and walk away with a victory.

Starry Lines

The fate that had seemingly been written in the stars for the Cardinals was another season of woe and want, but Louisville seems determined to make their own fate. While the Cards sit one away from bowl eligibility, don’t forget that Javian Hawkins sits just 22 yards away from a 1,000 yard season. He’d be the first to do it since Lamar (praise be his name) and the first running back since Bilal Powell.

Micale Cunningam will be back, and a retrospective look at the Miami game shows that the offensive performance was better than it might have first appeared. With the Hurricanes running up and down at will it’s easy to lose sight, but the Cards did manage 500 yards against a top defense and have finally exited the gauntlet of defensive powerhouses they’ve contended with over the past three games. Tutu Atwell looks ready to go as well, and even if Mekhi Becton is unavailable it’s clear that Adonis Boone is ready to do his duty to the utmost.

Even if Dwayne Ledford forgot the combination to the locker holding the secret playbook, it’s safe to say he’ll be ready to face his most recent former employer. Attack the injury depleted secondary and even if the Louisville defense comes up short we should still see good things happen in Raleigh.

And, just a thought, maybe don’t commit almost 150 yards in penalties. Cool? Cool.

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