Location: Wayne Day Family Field at Carter-Finley Stadium. Capacity 57,583, Surface: Bermuda Grass
Game Time:  12:30 p.m.
Line: -4.5 NC State
Series History: Louisville leads 4-1
Last Time:  10-18-2014, Louisville won 30-18


There are still tickets available to attend Louisville vs. NC State.  The weekend at North Carolina State is “Ag Day” which is designed to pay tribute to the state of North Carolina’s Agriculture Industry. The event on Saturday will have a tailgate inside the Wolfpack’s PNC Arena with the Fan Zone outside the arena.

There is a significant amount of rain in the forecast, if you are planning to make the trip to Raleigh prepare for rain.


The broadcast will be available on Louisville Sports Properties and the Tune In Mobile App.  The legendary voice of the Cards Paul Rogers will provide play-by-play with Craig Swabek providing color and Doug Ormay from the sideline.  Additionally the Cards’ call will be broadcast on Sirius Channel 93 and XM Channel 194.


The Cards vs. Wolfpack is available on the ACC Network, which in Louisville is on NBC affiliate WAVE 3 TV.  Tim Brant will provide the play-by-play action with Dave Archer adding color and Roddy Jones on the sideline.

  Louisville NC State
Scoring Offense (ppg) 29.3 (75th) 46.3 (9th)
Total Offense (ypg) 408.5 (70th) 478.5 (28th)
Passing Offense (ypg) 254.8 (44th) 219.5 (78th)
Rushing Offense (ypg) 153.75 (92nd) 259.0 (16th)
Scoring Defense (ppg) 22.0 (50th) 12.0 (8th)
Total Defense (ypg) 347.8 (47th) 205.8 (3rd)
Passing Defense (ypg) 175.5 (32nd) 156.3 (18th)
Rushing Defense (ypg) 172.25 (76th) 49.50 (3rd)
Punt Returns (ypr) 12.29 (35th) 18.00 (22nd)
Kickoff Returns (ypr) 27.60 (18th) 25.40 (31st)
Opponent Punt Returns (ypr) -1.50 (2nd) 5.0 (38th)
Opponent Kickoff Returns (ypr) 25.08 (107th) 17.11 (15th)
Punting (ypp) 42.38 (52nd) 38.64 (110th)
Field Goal % 50.0% (106th) 25.0% (127th)
Opponent Field Goal % 75% (67th) 100% (109th)
First Downs (per game) 23.3 (40th) 26.5 (15th)
Opponent First Downs (per game) 19.5 (61st) 10.5 (2nd)
Penalties (ypg) 54.8 (53rd) 35.3 (8th)
Turnover Margin (season) Even (63rd) +4 (22nd)
Time of Possession 30:29.50 (63rd) 39:15.00 (1st)
Sacks (per game) 1.50 (88th) 1.75 (74th)
Sacks Allowed (per game) 3.25 (117th) 2.00 (81st)
Tackles for Loss (per game) 4.50 (108th) 6.0 (63rd)
Tackles for Loss Allowed (per game) 6.50 (96th) 5.25 (55th)
Interceptions (season) 9 (1st) 3 (64th)
Passes Defended (per game) 5.00 (27th) 2.50 (109th)
Fumbles Recovered (season) 1 (96th) 3 (64th)
Fumbles Forced (season) 1 (109th) 2 (84th)
Fumbles Lost (season) 3 (74th) 1 (14th)
Kicks/Punts Blocked (season) 0 (last) 0 (last)
3rd Down Conversions (%) 40.00% (65th) 52.83% (7th)
Opponent 3rd Down Conversions (%) 39.66% (81st) 18.75% (2nd)
4th Down Conversions (%) 62.50% (42nd) 75.00% (18th)
Opponent 4th Down Conversions (%) 40.00% (40th) 0% (1st)
Red Zone Conversions (%) 80.00% (86th) 91.30%5 (30th)
Opponent Red Zone Conversions (%) 87.50% (91st) 80.00% (50th)
RedZone TD Conversions (%) 65.00% (49th) 86.96% (4th)
Opponent Red Zone TD Conversions (%) 37.50% (13th) 60.00% (65th)
Kickoffs (ypk) 64.32 (14th) 63.00 (56th)
Plays 289 (42nd) 309 (24th)
Yards Per Play 5.65 (70th) 6.19 (45th)

My Prediction

Louisville Football and RAIN have a pretty good history together.  FSU in 2002, Basically the entire 2012 season, and a myriad of other great memories blot the history books in what would be considered: Rain Games.

NC State has won 8 of its last 9 games since losing to the Cards last October.  Conversely Louisville is just 4-5 in its last 9 games since beating the Wolfpack.  Louisville NEEDS this game to avoid a 1-4 start before heading into its BYE week and then traveling to Florida State.  The Cards need to win in Raleigh if they hope to reverse the course of the 2015 season.

UofL did a nice job last year containing Jacoby Brissett and the NC State rushing attack.  The Cards also were able to break off several big plays offensively.  With the expected weather heading into game the best defense and the team that protects the football the best wins the game.  I believe Louisville has the best defense, but I also think that NC State protects that ball much better than the Cards (at least thus far).

Louisville’s offense hasn’t been outstanding against really tough competition, but they do have playmakers.  Lamar Jackson, Jaylen Smith, Devante Peete, Micky Crum.  In a game like Saturday 4-5 plays in a game make the difference and I think the Cards are most set-up to make those plays than NC State is against the UofL defense.

Could this be another learning lesson for the Cards?  Absolutely!  But right now, backs against the wall versus a team that has yet to see a challenge I like the Cards to win.

Louisville 28, NC State 20

Louisville Offense vs. NC State Defense

The Wolfpack thus far have some incredible defensive stats…..and they’ve played some pretty ghastly offensive (and I mean OFFENSIVE) offenses thus far.  Troy ranks 123rd, Old Dominion 124th, South Alabama is 91st and Eastern Kentucky is an FCS program.  So it isn’t surprising that NC State’s defensive stats position The Pack near one of the top units in the nation.  Even though North Carolina State’s actual position in the rankings may be in question due to the schedule, it’s a good bet that NC State is still a good team defensively given what they did last year and given Dave Doeren’s defensive history.

NC State plays a 4-2-5 style for the most part and will attempt to funnel Lamar Jackson into the middle.  The Wolfpack have a strong secondary and with rain in the forecast for the next few days, including on Saturday, it’s a safe bet that the Pack’s DBs will play close to the line of scrimmage and challenge Louisville to throw the ball while attempting to take away the Cardinals’ running game.  UofL also has not had much success running the ball with its running backs, Brandon Radcliff has 52 carries for 200 yards and Jeremy Smith has 14 carries for 41 yards, that’s 3.65 yards per carry and that won’t cut it.  North Carolina State routinely gave up long rushing plays a year ago a trend that has continued vs. subpar competition in 2015.

One other thing North Carolina State has not done well despite its lackluster competition is making tackles behind the line of scrimmage.  The Pack average just 1.75 sacks per game and 6 tackles for loss each contest despite having huge leads in all 4 games.  Coincidentally Louisville has done a pretty bad job in both areas as well.  If Louisville can gain yardage on 1st & 2nd down instead of going backwards the Cards have an excellent chance to win on the road……..if NC State gets behind the line of scrimmage and starts making plays at a rate higher than they have all season then Louisville faces a tougher challenge on Saturday and throughout the season.

Through the air, if Lamar Jackson has time to collect himself and make the right read he’ll still have a tough secondary patrolling.  If Lamar’s threat to run keeps the Wolfpack on their heels there may be more room for the WRs than NC State is accustomed to giving up.  The biggest question here is whether or not Jackson’s decision-making is ready for the ACC level.  Can Lamar throw the ball away when the play is dead?  Can Lamar decide when to not force a throw?  When to go down?  And just overall ball control.  Jackson was fantastic vs. Auburn and Samford, but really struggled in a tight one vs. Houston.  There is no question about Lamar Jackson’s arm strength, speed, or agility. Petrino is a master at developing quarterbacks, the question is whether or not he’s had enough time to develop Lamar adequately to win this game on Saturday.

Can Louisville run the ball and avoid the negative play?  Can NC State keep Lamar Jackson within the tackles? Can NC State stop long rushing plays? How much will rain affect the play calling? How much of a regression to the mean does NC State’s defense come down from its previous 4 games?  How much has Lamar Jackson grown in 4 weeks as a true freshman QB? The answers to these questions determine who wins the game.

NC State Offense vs. Louisville Defense

It’s all about Jacoby Brissett when it comes to the Wolfpack offense. Run/Pass all comes at the discretion of Brissett and his decision making has been outstanding lately. Jacoby hasn’t thrown an INT in 180+ pass attempts and is completing 78% of his passes in 2015. Brissett can take off in the spread option Wolfpack offense or he can allow Running Back Matt Dayes who ranks 17th nationally in rushing yards and has four consecutive 100+ yard games to go to work. The Wolfpack are down a weapon after Shadrach Thornton was arrested a subsequently dismissed from the program this week. NC State is not lacking athletes in the program and they will do the majority of their work on the ground despite Thornton’s absence while mixing in a calculated passing attack.

North Carolina State’s offensive stat rankings are impressive but again, we are talking about Troy (83rd in Total Defense), Old Dominion (87th), South Alabama (98th) and Eastern Kentucky (FCS). NC State has been outstanding in dominating time of possession, on 3rd down and in the Red Zone. For Louisville, containing the OUTSIDE edge is the key. Keeping Brissett and Dayes between the tackles and not allow them operate in space is the big challenge and where the Cards have struggled defensively thus far in 2015. Louisville may be in luck with the weather keeping NC State’s speed to a minimum, but some teams play better in inclement weather than others.

Louisville has interceptions in the past 17 games. Jacoby Brissett hasn’t thrown one in a LONG time. NC State’s WR’s aren’t overly BIG and there is a lot of youth there. The Cardinal secondary has done a nice job with the take aways, but they haven’t been excellent tackling this year in their 3 FBS match-ups. I’d expect Brissett and NC State to utilize the short passing game to get the ball to the outside (opposite of Josh Harvey-Clemons’ side as we have seen all year) and force the Lousiville secondary to make tackles on the perimeter. The last thing the Wolfpack wants to do is to play the Louisville Defense in a funnel.

NC State’s offensive line is also very young, but it is probably an upgrade from what Louisville faced vs. Clemson. Still NC State’s OL has been in flux with a series of injuries throughout the year that have made continuity difficult to achieve….and Louisville’s Front 7 is quite a bit of an upgrade from Troy, Old Dominion, South Alabama and Eastern Kentucky. The Cards will need to make sure they TACKLE in this game and will need to try and find gaps in the Pack OL to penetrate and keep the Wolves from making progress on 1st & 2nd down. If Louisville can do this they can win. If NC State wins on 1st & 2nd down all day they’ll control the clock & field position and as a result will put a lot of pressure on a young Louisville offense in the rain.

North Carolina State Football Traditions

If you are traveling to Raleigh this weekend for Louisville vs. NC State there are a few traditions to be aware of, like other schools in the ACC. Being a new member of the league means that there is a lot to discover and while the Cards did play at Carter-Finley Stadium in 2007, not being league mates may have kept Card fans from absorbing all of the things that make the Wolfpack.

Nicknames, Mascots & School Colors

North Carolina State’s teams are nicknamed the Wolfpack. Fans form their ring and middle fingers downward against their thumb while extending their pinky and index fingers up to form the head of a Wolf. The nickname comes from 1921 when a supporter of the football team was upset with it’s players and described the gridiron’s participants as “an unruly pack of Wolves”. NC State’s mascot is shared by Mr. & Mrs. Wuf who were actually married in 1981 by Wake Forest’s Demon Deacon who presided over the wedding.

The Wolfpack also has a “LIVE” mascot named “Tuffy” who is a purebred Tamaskan Dog. The name ‘Wolfpack’ went through some trouble during World War II due to the German’s U-Boat fleet being commonly referred to as “The Wolfpack” and a vote was held to change the nickname…which the student body rejected.

NC State’s school colors were not always red & white. Originally the school’s official colors were pink & blue and were officially brown & white for a single game before settling on red & white in 1895. Additionally, NC State was commonly referred to as the Aggies, the Techs, the Red Terrors, and the Farmers before settling on the Wolfpack.

Bricks Everwhere

While visiting NC State be prepared to see A TON of bricks. Several buildings, sculptures and walkways are constructed with bricks and there are many urban legends regarding why North Carolina State utilizes so many bricks on campus. The most popular legend is that a particular alumnus donates a generous sum along with a specified number of bricks that must be used…or the donations will cease.

The truth is that most of the bricks were made by inmates at a state prison which gave the school an inexpensive way to create a consistent look & feel throughout campus. Visit NC State and the usage of bricks will not go unnoticed.

The Ice Cream

NC State has some delicious ice cream cultivated from the milk of the school’s own dairy cows. There are 18 flavors.

Free Expression Tunnel

North Carolina State has a tunnel on campus that splits the campus into two sections (like Louisville) underneath railroad tracks. The tunnel is continually painted and repainted with messages ranging from the inane, school spirit, and political.


Nothing gets us more excited at TheCrunchZone.com than the traditions of college football.  So if we’ve missed anything that NC State does or has that would be considered a ‘tradition’ we’d love to hear about it and add it to our list of things to do this Saturday.  See you at Carter-Finley.

FULL GAME: Louisville vs. NC State 2014

Pre-Game Interviews/Media Sessions

The Louisville discussion begins at 24:30 of the Doeren video.

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@UofLSheriff50. Louisville native, University of Louisville Business School Grad c/o 2004. Co-Founder of TheCrunchZone.com

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