LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Louisville hits the road for the first time this season, traveling to Nashville, Tenn., and Nissan Stadium to face Western Kentucky. Both teams are 1-1 and playing for first-year head coaches.
A year ago, WKU threw a scare into the Cardinals and probably should have won a game that wound up a 20-17 Louisville victory in Cardinal Stadium.
A streak will end for Louisville on Saturday. The Cardinals have lost six in a row away from home, with their last road win coming at Kentucky in the 2017 season finale. They’ve also won 10 straight over WKU, their longest winning streak over any opponent.
Some nuts-and-bolts details for the game:
1). Time: Saturday, 4 p.m. EDT, Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tenn.
2). Where to watch: The game is not available via a television network, but is available through Stadium (Josh Appel and Jordan Palmer). For information on how to get it, visit Stadium's website here. How to listen: WKRD-790 AM (Paul Rogers, Craig Swabeck, Jody Demling), or Sirius Channel 108, XM Channel 194.
3). Line: Louisville by 10. Over/under: 50.5.
4). Scouting WKU: The Hilltoppers seemed to have their season opener in hand against FCS Central Arkansas, then gave up 21 straight points to lose. They bounced back, however, by beating Conference USA foe Florida International on the road as an underdog last week. Running back Gaej Walker ranks 11th in the nation in rushing and WKU’s experienced offensive line has allowed only one sack of quarterback Steven Duncan in two games. WKU is among the top 20 teams nationally in time of possession and the Hilltoppers are 25th nationally in rushing defense. They have been susceptible, however, to the deep ball, if Louisville can find a way to throw it with any accuracy.
5). Scouting Louisville: The Cardinals were better than most expected in a loss to Notre Dame to open the season, then posted their first shutout in six years in a 42-0 win over Eastern Kentucky. That victory ended a 10-game losing streak for the program, but this one will go a lot farther in judging just how far the Cardinals have come. After totaling just 11 sacks all of last season, Louisville has eight sacks in two games behind a rejuvenated front seven. That will be the key unit against WKU, which has protected its quarterback well and carved out decent room to run. The running game is key for the Cardinals. They come into the game averaging 285 yards per game on the ground, 11th in the nation. If they can establish the run against WKU, they should be celebrating back-to-back victories heading into ACC play.
6). Sideline storyline: WKU first-year coach Tyson Helton came from Tennessee, where he served as offensive coordinator, though he spent time on WKU’s staff before that. He’s thrown some wrinkles into the Hilltopper offense, and could quickly establish a tone for his tenure with an upset of Louisville on Saturday. At Louisville, Scott Satterfield has a feel-good vibe in his program after two games, and a win over WKU would send the Cardinals to Tallahassee next week with optimism against a Florida State program that has been struggling.
7). Spotlight players: For WKU, if Walker has a big game, it means the Hilltoppers will have established line superiority with its offensive front, and could pave the way for an upset. For Louisville, if running back Javian Hawkins gets going, it could mean the same thing. Louisville QB Jawon Pass ran for two touchdowns in the opener and threw for four last week, but watch for the Cardinals to try to work Malik Cunningham more into the mix under center after running for 78 yards in just three carries in a brief appearance against EKU.
8). Fan tip: The game is designated a WKU home game, and WKU students receive free admission by showing a student ID. Louisville will break out a new helmet for the WKU game, a red helmet with a matte finish. U of L unveiled the new look on Twitter this week:
HOW BOUT THEM TOPS BABY!!Can’t be more proud of our @WKUFootball team for how they responded to adversity. Hats off to the entire defense who earned tonight’s game ball. #TopsOnTop pic.twitter.com/cMvPndBFxM— Tyson Helton (@Coach_Helton) September 8, 2019
10. Picks: Rick Bozich has U of L 28-17, Eric Crawford has Louisville 35-21. Bozich's dog, Ruby, picks WKU to cover. More picks here.
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