BOZICH/CRAWFORD | Previewing (and picking) the U of L, UK, IU, W - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH/CRAWFORD | Previewing (and picking) the U of L, UK, IU, WKU games

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Rick Bozich and Eric Crawford pick this weekend's college football games. Rick Bozich and Eric Crawford pick this weekend's college football games.

By Rick Bozich and Eric Crawford

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The local college football season is moving faster than American Pharoah. After Saturday’s games we’ll be at the one-third pole.

Here are the bare essentials: Louisville needs a win. Kentucky needs a win over a ranked Southeastern Conference opponent. Indiana needs its fourth win to continue its pursuit of that elusive bowl trip. Western Kentucky needs a bounce-back win.

On to the rest of the story – and picks by me and Eric Crawford.

SAMFORD AT LOUISVILLE

JUST THE FACTS: Game kicks at 6 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN3.com. Samford is 2-1, losing to Chattanooga last weekend. Cards are 0-3, by a combined 13 points. The Bulldogs are coached by former Hal Mumme assistant coach Chris Hatcher, who also ran the program at Murray State.

By my count, the Cards have won 18 straight games against FCS (formerly Division I-AA) opponents. Their last loss against an FCS program came in October 1987 when Howard Schnellenberger’s third Louisville team lost to Marshall, 34-31.

I predict the uncertainty at quarterback will end (at least briefly) for the Cards. Freshman Lamar Jackson will start. But if all goes as planned, the Cards should build a sufficient cushion for Bobby Petrino to empty the bench.

For all the talk about the quarterback, pay more attention to the running game. Louisville ranks 115th nationally in rushing offense, averaging an insufficient 3.2 yards per carry. That won’t work against North Carolina State and Florida State, the next two games (both on the road).

VEGAS LINE: No line at VegasInsiders.com.

SAGARIN RATINGS: Louisville by 19.63

CRAWFORD PICK: U of L 41, Samford 21.

BOZICH PICK: U of L 41, Samford 10.

MISSOURI AT KENTUCKY

JUST THE FACTS: Game kicks at 7:30 p.m. and will be televised by the SEC Network. The Tigers are the luckiest 3-0 team in the nation, wiggling past Arkansas State and UConn. Kentucky is the unhappiest 2-1 team because the Wildcats were convinced they were going to end that long losing streak against Florida last week. The Tigers have won the SEC East the last two seasons.

By my count, Kentucky has lost 18 straight games against ranked opponents. Missouri is ranked 25th in the AP poll and 23rd in the USA Today Coaches’ poll.

By the count of the website SaturdayDownSouth.com, Kentucky has won only three of 41 games against ranked teams in the last decade, the worst record of the 14 teams in the SEC (yes, including Vanderbilt, which has won six of 37.

UK’s last win over a ranked opponent? Ask Steve Spurrier. He remembers. The Wildcats beat No. 10 South Carolina in 2010.

ESPN still projects 6.8 wins for Mark Stoops’ team this season. This could be one of them. ESPN’s computer formula puts UK’s win probability at 57.3 percent.

The Wildcats have work to do on offense, ranking 102nd nationally in total offense and 99th in scoring offense. They’ll have to do it against a Missouri team that ranks first in the SEC in several defensive categories.

VEGAS LINE: Kentucky by 3.

SAGARIN RATINGS: Missouri by 1.8.

CRAWFORD PICK: UK 24, Missouri 14.

BOZICH PICK: UK 17, Missouri 14.

INDIANA AT WAKE FOREST

JUST THE FACTS: Game kicks at 12:30 p.m. Televised in the Louisville area on WHAS, nationally by ESPN3.com. The Hoosiers are 3-0, the Demon Deacons are 2-1 after beating Army last week. Wake has an all-time record of 3-9 against Big Ten programs.

Indianapolis radio host Dan Dakich has been beating the drum for ESPN to bring its mega-popular College GameDay show to Bloomington next weekend in advance of the Hoosiers’ Big Ten opener against Ohio State. (Programming note: OSU coach Urban Meyer and Dakich are big friends.)

Kevin Wilson, the IU coach, wants no part of the conversation because A) he knows the Hoosiers are no lock to win at Wake Forest today; B) he says ESPN typically comes to venues that are sold out (although OSU fans might fill Memorial Stadium next weekend) and C) Notre Dame at Clemson as well Alabama at Georgia are sexier alternatives. (In fact, GameDay host Rece Davis strongly hinted ESPN will be at Clemson next week if the Irish beat UMass Saturday.)

Can Indiana beat Wake Forest?

Sure. The Demon Deacons are likely to use their back-up quarterback, freshman Kendall Hinton. But that might benefit Wake because Hinton can run, gaining 101 yards on 17 carries against Army.

Check video of the Southern Illinois game for evidence of how a running quarterback dominated the Hoosiers.

IU halfback Jordan Howard leads the nation in rushing yards. He’ll have to continue his pace of nearly 170 yards per game for Indiana to succeed.

VEGAS LINE: IU by 3 ½.

SAGARIN RATINGS: Wake by .59.

CRAWFORD PICK: Indiana 35, Wake Forest 28.

BOZICH PICK: Wake Forest 27, Indiana 24.

MIAMI (OHIO) at WESTERN KENTUCKY

JUST THE FACTS: Game kicks at 3:30 p.m., and will be televised by the CBS SportsNetwork. The Redhawks are 1-2 while the Hilltoppers are 2-1 after their disappointing loss at IU last Saturday.

I know Miami is only 3-24 over the last two-plus seasons. This one smells like a trap game.

WKU coach Jeff Brohm has to keep his team sharp mentally because everybody is predicting an easy WKU win. After starting the season with two games against teams from Power Five leagues as well as a revenge victory against Louisiana Tech, WKU is positioned to be flat.

Miami is better than its 0-12 team in 2013 as well as its 2-10 team from last season. My evidence? The Redhawks played the cleats off a decent Cincinnati team last weekend, before losing 37-33.

I know that one week earlier that Miami lost to Wisconsin, 58-0. Wisconsin has a power running game. WKU does not, not without Leon Allen.

VEGAS LINE: WKU by 20 ½.

SAGARIN RATINGS: WKU by 22.56.

CRAWFORD PICK: WKU 49, Miami 14.

BOZICH PICK: WKU 35, Miami 21.

TENNESSEE at FLORIDA

JUST THE FACTS: Kicks at 3:30 p.m. and will be televised nationally by CBS. The Vols are 2-1 but are remembered for their come-from-ahead home loss to Oklahoma. Florida is 3-0, winning its last two by a combined 12 points. The winner will be considered the designated challenger to Georgia in the SEC East.

VEGAS LINE: Tennessee by 1.

SAGARIN RATINGS: Tennessee by 1.83.

CRAWFORD PICK: Tennessee 28, Florida 24.

BOZICH PICK: Florida 21, Tennessee 20.

Record last week: Crawford 1-4; Bozich 1-4.

Season records: Bozich 8-7; Crawford 7-8.

Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.

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