Louisville Cardinals (7-1 SU, 4-3-1 ATS) vs. Boston College Eagles (4-4 SU, 3-4-1 ATS)
College Football Week 10
Date/Time: Saturday, November 5, 2016 at 12PM EST
Where: Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: LOU -25/BC +25
Over/Under Total: 55.5
The Louisville Cardinals come to Chestnut Hill to face the Boston College Eagles in ACC action on Saturday. The Cardinals are 7-1 and ranked fifth in the country, their only loss to the unbeaten Clemson Tigers. Last week, they beat Virginia by 7 as 32-point favorites. Theyíve only covered one spread in their last five games and are again trying to cover a big number again this week. Boston College is 4-4 and coming off a 21-14 win over North Carolina State, their first conference win of the season.
Boston Collegeís 4-4 record is pretty misleading, with their other three wins coming against Massachusetts, Wagner, and Buffalo. They were bombed out by Virginia Tech, 49-0, earlier in the season, also suffering a 56-10 loss to Clemson. They also lost at home to Syracuse. The win over NC State was a source of promise, as they were at least able to beat a bottom-end conference team. Still, the offense really struggles, which puts a lot of pressure on a defense that can actually be somewhat rigid in the right spots. And by right spots, we mean against mediocre or poor offenses. Thatís not what they will be facing this week.
The Boston College offense is led by Kentucky transfer and senior quarterback Patrick Towles. His work has been pretty pedestrian, though this is not necessarily an offense built for a QB like Towles to succeed. Towles also uses his legs and has scored 4 touchdowns with his legs, with only 7 thus far in the air. They run the ball a lot, though not necessarily well, with leading rusher Jon Hilliman averaging 3.5 yards a carry. They average a pedestrian 21 points a game.
In recent seasons, the defense has become Boston Collegeís calling card of sorts. A lot of coaches from this side of the ball have been lured away by other progams looking to replicate the attacking BC defense. Again, this season, they are pretty gritty against the run and are giving up only 23 points a game and thatís even including blowout losses to VT and Clemson. They can get after the QB with 25 sacks on the season, with this group able to create turnovers, as well. One wonders how good they could be if not hung out to dry so often by the offense.
Louisville has cooled off some, but thatís compared to the fever pitch tone they established early in the season, when they were easily the most talked-about team in the nation. They lost to Clemson and missed a few spreads by a mile and with other teams thriving; the Cardinals are now a bit off-the-radar. Theyíre still the nationís top-scoring offense with 50 points a game on average, while allowing just 23 with the tenth-ranked defense in the land.
Louisville benefits from having Heisman frontrunner Lamar Jackson behind center. The multi-faceted quarterback has thrown for 2522 yards and 22 touchdowns. But heís also near 1000 yards with a massive 16 TD runs. Also helping in the run-game is Brandon Ratcliff and Jeremy Smith. In the air, Jackson works with a stacked crew of receivers led by Jamari Staples, James Quick, Cole Hikutini, and Jaylen Smith. This offense has a lot of weapons and has unleashed the full scope of their venom this season.
Giving up 25 points to a flat Virginia offense was a disappointment last week for Louisville, but theyíve been pretty stout this season. Only the powerful Clemson defense was able to really thrive against this bunch. And against low-end conference teams like Duke and NC State, the defense looks really good. For the purposes of covering this spread, a lot comes down to the Louisville ďD.Ē Will they keep the Eagles in the 10-20 point range or will BC surpass that?
Last week, Louisville was in a similar spot, being asked to cover a big number against an apparently overmatched team on the road. They fell flat on their face with a tepid 7-point win. Against Duke two weeks earlier, Louisville was a 35-point favorite and again didnít come close to covering the spread. Itís possible that Louisville is in that time of the season where they are going through a bit of a lull against opponents that donít get their full respect. Approaching a game with the mediocre Eagles in a faraway locale, might this be another non-ideal spot to ask the Cardinals to cover the big number?
Itís just that weíve seen Boston College suffer massively against the better teams theyíve played and even at home. And with Louisville, we need to be careful to not lock in a perception of them phoning in games like this because just as you start to think that, the opposite seems to take place. Thatís the wacky world of college football. This week, I think the number is actually somewhat manageable for the Cardinals, who could be due to turn it loose a little bit. I see the Cardinals pulling away for a cover on Saturday.
Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Iím betting on the Louisville Cardinals minus 25 points.
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