BOZICH | Vegas handicapper explains Louisville-Miami line - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Vegas handicapper explains Louisville-Miami line

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – When Louisville defeated Miami (36-9) in the Russell Athletic Bowl last December, the Cards were favored to complete that job by five points. Vegas does not whiff much, but Vegas did whiff on that one.

Now comes the news that the Cards are favored by only three points when the teams play again at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium on Sept. 1.

If Bobby Petrino’s team was searching for another dis, it arrived Thursday. Louisville was ranked 36th, two spots behind the Hurricanes, in the pre-season edition of the coaches’ college football Top 25. (A poll of readers showed that 43 percent of you believe U of L should be ranked between 21 and 25, while 28 percent said the Cards should be unranked. click here to vote.)

What’s going on here?

As I said Thursday, it’s not one thing, it’s many things – coaching change, loss of Teddy Bridgewater, loss of seven defensive starters, return of Miami halfback Duke Johnson.

But what does Vegas say?

I asked one of the best – Brian Edwards, a senior handicapper at You can see his work at

This is what Edwards wrote:

“The loss of three first-round picks and an outstanding head coach (Charlie Strong) certainly has handicappers downgrading Louisville significantly going into the 2014 campaign.

“Another factor when comparing this game to the blowout in Orlando last December were the injuries Miami was dealing with at the time. Al Golden's team was without its most explosive playmaker in running back Duke Johnson and its best wide receiver in Phillip Dorsett. Both of those guys will be healthy and ready to go on Sept. 1.

“I've always felt like bowl games are extremely unique in that motivation is pivotal. Looking back at that matchup, you had teams going in completely opposite directions. The Hurricanes had started the season 7-0, climbing to No. 7 in the national rankings, only to get smashed by 63 combined points in their next three outings.

“On the flip side, the Cardinals were fired up to face a storied program and send out their seniors on a high note. And we can't discount the fact that Charlie Strong had so many players from the Sunshine State, most notably Teddy Bridgewater, who wanted nothing more than to put it on the 'Canes.

“I'm not trying to take anything away from U of L for its dominant performance in pounding Miami, but this year's opener is a completely different situation and that result can only serve as a small factor in handicapping this upcoming game.

“I've always felt the toughest Week 1 games to handicap are those in which you're dealing with two new starting quarterbacks. U of L's Will Gardner only saw action at garbage time last year, while expected UM starter Kevin Olsen, a redshirt freshman, hasn't taken a collegiate snap yet. So there's a lot of unknowns with those guys.

“But I think Olsen is in the tougher situation here because he's facing live bullets for the first time and doing so on the road. I would think the "nerves factor" would sway toward Gardner being more comfortable at home.

“I have Louisville at No. 33 in my preseason Power Rankings, with Miami ranked 35th. So obviously, I think the talent level is nearly equal. I was torn as to whether to make my number four or 4.5, and eventually decided to go with U of L as the four-point 'chalk.' Therefore, if the number stays south of three (2.5 now), I'll have a small-to-moderate play/opinion on the Cards.

“Again, however, the QB situations make me nervous, so it's not a Week 1 game that's high on my radar. I don't feel confident in my evaluations of teams until I see a quarterback making plays and good decisions (or getting rattled and committing game-changing turnovers).”

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