BOZICH | First Look: Louisville D faces struggling Wolfpack offe - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | First Look: Louisville D faces struggling Wolfpack offense; Kentucky/LSU looks close

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – On Saturday, the University of Louisville football team scored 17 points against Clemson. On Sunday, the Cardinals opened as a 14-point favorite against North Carolina State.

I'm not sure what conclusion to draw from that, except the Wolfpack are still looking for the next Phillip Rivers.

But it works as the perfect place to start this week's edition of First Look, my opening look at the games that Louisville, Kentucky, Indiana and Western Kentucky will play this weekend.

No more delays – all games Saturday.

North Carolina State at Louisville, ESPN3, 3:30 p.m. – Here is your trivia stat for the week: N.C. State coach Dave Doeren is nearly midway through his second tour of the Atlantic Coast Conference and he has not won a league game.

That would translate into 11 games – and 11 defeats, as outlined by Luke DeCock of the News and Observer newspaper in Raleigh, N.C. Doeren, a former defensive coordinator at Wisconsin, admitted he has heard the grumbling. As DeCock notes, it is the longest ACC losing streak in N.C. State history.

The stat is a bit misleading because Doeren inherited a program that was in decline last season and then he began league play against Florida State and Clemson this season. But the Wolfpack's 30-14 home loss to Boston College stung.

N.C. State has scored 17 points in its last nine quarters – and now the Wolfpack get the Louisville defense, which proved its skills at Clemson Saturday. Last week I said the Cards needed to score 24 to beat Clemson -- and 24 would have worked. This week I'll say 17 will beat N.C. State.

THE LINE: The Cards (5-2) opened as 14-point favorites Sunday afternoon – and the line was still at 14 Sunday evening. Jeff Sagarin's Predictor computer ratings say Louisville even bigger, by 20.39.

Kentucky at Louisiana State, SEC Network, 7:30 p.m. – In August, Louisiana State was listed as a 25-point favorite against Kentucky (5-1), according to the College Football Matrix magazines.

Ooops.

Think you can find anybody to give you Kentucky and 25 points today?

The Tigers wobbled to three-point win at Florida, a place where Kentucky played the Gators into triple overtime. Sounds like the teams are close. They have another common opponent – Louisiana Monroe. Tigers won by 31. Wildcats won by 34. Still close.

So in two games against common opponents LSU is plus-34 and the Wildcats are plus-28. Sounds like Saturday night in Death Valley should be interesting.

UK has a better passing game, LSU a stronger running game. Kentucky averages 36.5 points per game, LSU 34.9. The Tigers give up 19 points per game, the Wildcats 18.7. Les Miles has 100 wins at LSU. In less than two seasons, Mark Stoops looks like a guy who can win 100 games at Kentucky.

THE LINE: Vegas still doesn't know what to make of the Wildcats. LSU opened as 13-point favorites by the number slipped to 10 ½ Sunday night. I expect it to keep slipping, although Sagarin's Predictor ratings favor LSU by 13.68.

Michigan State at Indiana, ESPN, 3:30 p.m. – The Hoosiers' season is on the brink – and many saw this trouble coming last June when quarterback Tre Roberson transferred to Illinois State.

Nate Sudfeld, IU's starting quarterback, left the Iowa game with a separated left shoulder Saturday, leaving the Hoosiers with a converted true freshman linebacker, Chris Covington, to play the most important position on the field. The transfers of Roberson and Cam Coffman after last season created a scenario where IU coach Kevin Wilson was certain to have issues if something happened to Sudfeld.

Something happened to Sudfeld. Indiana (3-3) has issues. Covington came to IU recruited as an athlete. He was playing linebacker when camp opened. He can run. But his passing? Covington attempted a dozen passes against Iowa. IU caught three. Iowa caught two. Michigan State might play all 11 guys in the box.

THE LINE: Doesn't make it look like a fun Saturday for the Hoosiers. They're 14 ½ point underdogs and MSU coach Mark Dantonio will be happy to win by much, much more to push his team back into the playoff picture. Sagarin Predictor says MSU by 11.34.

Western Kentucky at Florida Atlantic, noon – Let's call it the Howard Schnellenberger Bowl.

The Hilltoppers (2-3) are coached by Jeff Brohm, one of Schnellenberger's former players and assistant coaches. In fact, Brohm worked for him at FAU. Schnellenberger is the guy who created the program at FAU, which now plays in a sparkling 30,000-seat stadium in Boca Raton. They say you can see the Atlantic Ocean from the top of the press box.

WKU has yet to celebrate a victory in its new league – Conference USA. Considering the Owls are averaging about 14,000 fans per home game, this should not be much of a homefield advantage for the Hilltoppers to overcome.

THE LINE: Toppers by 3. The Sagarin Predictor numbers like WKU by 7.22.

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