ACC Finale on a Saturday Night under the Lights

Our Louisville Cardinals are heading down the home stretch of the college football season. They moved up one spot this week in the Playoff poll to #6 and winners of four games straight they will close out their 3rd ACC season against Wake Forest Saturday night under the lights of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. The Cardinals and the Demon Deacons have met three times on the gridiron with the Cardinals winning all three. The Cardinals have won 9 straight at home including a perfect 4-0 this season.

In the last three games, Louisville has put up a whopping 138 points, and has held opponents to 14 points or fewer in three of their last four. The Cardinals have dominated the opposition this season, having out-scored opponents 211-61 and having scored 50 or more points in three of the four home contests. Next up is a very respectful opponent in Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons are 6-3 and 3-2 overall after a 27-20 win over Virginia last week. They will be coming to Louisville on Saturday night with upset on their mind and the Cardinals will get their best shot. This Wake Forest team reflects the resilience of their head coach. Dave Clawson has turned several programs around and in year number three in Winston-Salem has them going Bowling. The programs first trip to a Bowl game since 2011.

Leading the Wake Forest offense is another guy who is a direct reflection of his coach. QB John Wolford has been right in the middle of the rebuilding process and has taken the blows that comes along with that. His numbers don’t necessarily reflect it but Wolford has weathered the storm and has his offense moving the football. So far this season, Wolford is 127-of-225 for 1313 yards and has a 5:7 TD: INT ratio. The Demon Deacons have a pretty balanced attack with 1476 yards on the ground and 1507 yards through the air. Leading their rushing attack is Matt Colburn with 109 carries for 463 yards and one TD. Wolford is a mobile QB and he is second on the team in rushing with 456 yards and 6 touchdowns. Wolford’s favorite targets are WR Tabari Hines (367 yards 2 touchdowns), WR Cortez Lewis (298 yards), and TE Cam Serigne (257 yards, 1 touchdown).

Looking to stifle this Wake Forest offense is a Louisville Defense that keeps getting better every week. After giving up 201 yards on the ground in the 42-36 loss to No. 2 Clemson on Oct. 1, the Cardinals have allowed just 66.3 average over the last four games holding the last three opponents to under 100 yards on the ground. Entering the game last weekend, Boston College totaled 170.1 yards per game on the ground, and were held to 57 yards on 47 carries an average of 1.5 yards per attempt. The Cards are ranked seventh in rushing defense this season. They have also done a great job at defending teams through the air and rank 15th in the country allowing 187 yards a game. The Cardinals are ranked 8th in the nation in total defense giving up 293 yards a game. For DeAngelo Brown (second on the squad with 6.5 tackles for loss), Keith Kelsey (team leader with 61 tackles), Devonte Fields (30 tackles, 2 sacks), and Josh Harvey-Clemons (second on the team in tackles with 56) their college careers are nearing the end. Look for them to be playing some of their best football on Saturday night and during these final weeks.

On the year so far, Jackson is rolling with a 170-of-288 line for 2753 yards and 26 touchdowns, also leading Louisville in rushing with 1181 yards and 19 touchdowns on 162 attempts. Brandon Radcliff ranks 10th in the nation with an average of 7.12 yards per carry. James Quick is the Cardinals’ lead receiver this year with 35 catches for 601 yards and six touchdowns of his own and not far behind is Jamari Staples second on the team with 557 receiving yards. Jaylen Smith has caught a pass in 14-straight games and is tied for the lead with six touchdowns. Cole Hikutini has caught 27 passes and always seems to be there to move the chains when needed. This Louisville offense is rolling along like a well-oiled machine and I only expect that to continue Saturday night.

I don’t think that Wake Forest can stand up to this kind of offensive onslaught in any realistic scenario, but do think that they’ve got a defense that will sure be excited to try and slow down the Heisman leader and the weapons he has around him. Wake Forest has some very good player’s at all three levels of their defense. This is a hard-nosed group who flies around the field looking to hit somebody. The leaders of this group are DL Duke Ejiofor (36 tackles, 8 sacks), LB Marquel Lee (71 tackles, 5 sacks), LB Thomas Brown (45 tackles, 1.5 sacks), DB Brad Watson (40 tackles, 2 interceptions), DB Ryan Janvion (42 tackles, 1 interception), and DB Jessie Bates (63 tackles, 5 interceptions). You can tell by their numbers that these guys come to play and they will Saturday.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be under the lights of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium on Saturday night covering this game. We haven’t had the chance at many of these night games since joining the ACC. It will also be great to be a part of the atmosphere that will honor our veterans. The Cardinals will wear maybe their best uniform combinations of the season when they take the field. I don’t see any scenario where this game will be in doubt. With the home crowd behind them this Louisville offense and defense will come out and play one of the best games of their season looking to gain momentum as they close this thing out. It’s going to be an awesome Saturday night folks. Go Cards!