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North Carolina State Wolfpack vs. Louisville Cardinals Odds - Prediction

North Carolina State Wolfpack (4-2 SU, 5-1 ATS) vs. No. 7 Louisville Cardinals (5-1 SU, 3-2-1 ATS)
College Football Week 8
Date/Time: Saturday, October 22nd, 12:00PM (EST)
Where: Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium Louisville, K.Y.
TV: ABC
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com

Point Spread: NCSU +18.5/LOU -18.5
Over/Under Total: TBA

One of the most interesting matchups in the ACC this Saturday will feature a showdown between the North Carolina State Wolfpack and the no. 7 Louisville Cardinals. The Cardinals are among the nation’s top ranked 1 loss teams are attempting to fight their way back into the playoff picture following their loss to Clemson a few weeks ago. Louisville returned to action last Saturday for the first time since that road loss to Clemson in what turned out to be a rather unimpressive performance in a 24-14 win over Duke. The Cardinals will attempt to find their early season momentum this Saturday against a much more difficult opponent in North Carolina State.

Despite the fact this Saturday’s game will feature conference opponents, this will be just the 7th meeting all-time featuring the Wolfpack and Cardinals. Louisville leads the all-time mark at 5-1 and has won every game played in the regular season. The Wolfpacks’ only victory over Louisville was their 2011 Belk Bowl victory played in Charlotte. This week North Carolina State attempts to do something that they could not do last week by upsetting a top 10 opponent. In fact “could not do” may not be the best choice of words because the Wolfpack had every opportunity to take down Clemson last week. They missed 3 field goals including a mere 33 yard chip shot from the middle of the field on the last play in regulation to win the game. Therefore, North Carolina State is definitely capable of upsetting a top ACC opponent they just have to make the plays to do it.

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Hopefully for North Carolina State, this game does not come down to a kicking contest this Saturday. The Wolfpack have proven to be a solid contender. They beat Notre Dame in the trenches in a Hurricane and they stopped one of the nation’s best offenses last week in Clemson holding the Tigers to just 17 points in regulation. This week that same North Carolina State defense must prove that they can stop one of the best players in the nation in Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson. Even with last week’s mediocre offensive performance by the Cardinals, Jackson still proved that he is perhaps the best player in the nation. The Cardinals sophomore quarterback ran for 144 yards and a touchdown while throwing for another 181 yards with a touchdown. On the season, that puts his totals at 1,806 passing yards with 15 scores and 4 picks to go along with 832 yards with 15 touchdowns on the ground.

Therefore stopping Lamar Jackson is principle number 1 for any defense that goes against Louisville. For North Carolina State, they will have to play better defensively this week than they did against Clemson. Despite holding the Tigers to just 17 points in regulation, Deshaun Watson still threw for nearly 400 yards passing with 2 scores and rushed for another 35 yards and a touchdown. Watson is probably the nation’s next best dual threat compared to Jackson and some may even argue Watson is the better of the two especially in the passing department. Despite the yardage last week, Clemson made several self-inflicted mistakes that kept them out of the end zone. The Wolfpack cannot expect the same favors from Louisville on Saturday.

North Carolina State needs that defensive effort because they cannot afford to get into a scoring shootout with Louisville. They simply do not have enough firepower. However, running back Matthew Dayes is a guy that could give this Cardinals defense a lot of trouble. He was excellent against Clemson between the tackles and he is averaging nearly 6 yards per carry on the season. If Dayes can have another stellar performance, it could help this Wolfpack offense out tremendously also keeping Louisville’s offense on the sidelines. The offense still needs to get some help from Ryan Finley in the passing game but Dayes will be the key towards North Carolina State’s chances this weekend. If he has a big game, this could be closer than most expect.

Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I expect another big outing from Dayes against this Louisville defense and this game stays close as a result. Take NC State +18.5

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