No. 17 Louisville Cardinals (4-1 SU, 1-4 ATS) vs. No. 24 North Carolina State Wolfpack (4-1 SU, 4-0 ATS)
College Football Week 6
Date/Time: Thursday October 5th, 2017. 8:00PM (EST)
Where: Carter-Finley Stadium Raleigh, N.C.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: LOU -3.5/NCSU +3.5
Over/Under Total: TBA
Last week all eyes were on the ACC as ESPN GameDay shined its light on Clemson and Virginia Tech in a premier showdown highlighting week 5 of the college football season. This week the ACC will take center stage again to kick off week 6 when the no. 17 Louisville Cardinals travel into Raleigh to battle the no. 24 NC State Wolfpack in front of a nationally televised audience. Despite the 4-1 SU mark, the Wolfpack are 2-0 in conference play and a win could set the stage for a showdown with Clemson on November 4th with ACC Championship implications on the line.
At 4-1 SU, Louisville is also still alive in the hunt for an ACC Championship but due to their loss against Clemson they would need a lot more help. Since that loss to Clemson, the Cardinals have had the pleasure of beating up on the likes of Kent Stat and Murray in recent weeks. The Cardinals outscore both combined teams by a score of 97-13. Obviously things will be much tougher this Thursday against a Wolfpack team that plays well on both sides of the football. Perhaps the biggest challenge in this particular matchup will be Louisvilles ability to protect star quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Jackson has had a strong year throwing for 1,636 yards with 13 scores and 3 picks while rushing for another 437 yards with 5 scores. The numbers have been solid but those numbers can be misleading to a degree as well. The Cardinals have struggled upfront to protect which has often caused Jackson to make plays rolling outside of the pocket. In theory that may not sound bad because Jackson is an electric player in space. Still, the problems lie within the breakdowns on the offensive front and those concerns will be at the forefront of this Thursdays matchup because NC State has the best defensive line in the ACC outside of Clemson who in my opinion has the best defensive group in the FBS.
Therefore, I am sure that Jackson is going to be pressured in this game. If the Wolfpack can keep pressure consistently and stay discipline, this is a matchup they can win on some occasions. Louisville is going to score points but this game will be about damage control. The Wolfpack offense has the weapons to challenge as well which could present a shootout scenario if the defense cannot get stops. The Cardinals defense has been very concerning throughout their opening games giving up point totals of 28 to Purdue, 35 to North Carolina, and 47 in the loss to Clemson.
The point totals given up by the Cardinals defense alone is not reason to panic especially considering the fast tempo of the Louisville offense which creates extra possessions for opposing teams. However, I do think a big concern for the Cardinals defense lies in their inability to defend the pass. The Cardinals defense has been pretty bad which opens the door for Wolfpack quarterback Ryan Finley. Finley has hit 71% of his passes this year for 1,403 yards with 9 touchdowns and 0 picks. Additionally, TE Jaylen Samuels has proven to be a difficult target to defend in critical situations. Samuels already has 43 catches for 321 yards and 3 touchdowns from the tight end position among a receiving corps that is very talented. NC States defense has to do their part. If they do, this offense will have every opportunity to win the game outright.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I hate betting against great players like Lamar Jackson but I think NC State is the better team. If the NC State defense does their job and prevents Jackson from having a huge performance like he did against North Carolina, I like the Wolfpacks ability to keep the pressure on the Louisville defense and score points. Take NC State +3.5 - Not all sportsbooks are created equal! Many are fly by night, poorly run and your loot is actually at risk. End that problem today by signing up at one of the web’s oldest and most trusted sportsbooks! Online for over 15 years, your credit card will work and you’ll also receive a 50% bonus up to $250 FREE at Bovada Sportsbook!