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Louisville vs. Virginia,
9-22-2018 - Expert Prediction

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Game Snapshot with Current Line

#347 Louisville
Cardinals 51
#348 Virginia
Cavaliers -5.5

Saturday, September 22, 2018 at 12:30pm

Image licensed from USA Today Sports

Game Stats

Louisville Cardinals

2 - 1


Virginia Cavaliers

2 - 1


Featured Video from Scott Reichel

When and where: September 22, 2018, Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA, 12:30 PM ET

A bounce back win over Ohio has the Virginia Cavaliers rejuvenated ahead of their Week 4 match-up against the Louisville Cardinals. What team wouldn’t feel confident after posting 552 yards of total offense?

The Cavaliers offense was clicking on all cylinders with big performances from Bryce Perkins, Jordan Ellis and Olamide Zaccheaus. It’s too bad the same can’t be said for the defense, which gave up 31 points. Meanwhile, the Cardinals were fortunate enough to overcome a 14-point deficit to knock off Western Kentucky.

A much tougher match-up looms in Charlottesville on Saturday.

Louisville kicking the tires on quarterbacks

The Jawon Pass show in Louisville didn’t last long.

Malik Cunningham, a true freshman, is expected to take over as the starting quarterback for a team struggling to find a suitable replacement for Lamar Jackson, who was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in April. Pass couldn’t get the job done with his arm and neither can Cunningham. The only difference is Cunningham’s scrambling abilities.

He gives the Cardinals another dimension they don’t have whenever Pass is behind center. His ability to move the chains with his legs was key in the Cardinals’ monumental comeback win over Western Kentucky. He led the team with 21 carries and 129 rushing yards. It was a standout performance that aided in him winning the job over Pass. Whether he’s able to hold onto it remains to be seen.

More Ellis is part of Virginia’s formula to success

Cavaliers running back Jordan Ellis had 19 carries for 171 rushing yards and three touchdowns against Ohio’s defense in Week 3. That’s a stark contrast from the 12 carries he was given in the team’s loss to Indiana a little over a week ago. He averaged 9.0 yards on the ground against Ohio, and even in the loss to Indiana, he still averaged 5.3 yards per carry.

Perkins, the junior quarterback, has the ability to fill a stat sheet with his arm and legs, but there also is no denying the importance of Ellis to the offense. They’re more balance and tend to play better when he’s heavily involved.

This team won’t win many games with Perkins acting as a one-man band.

The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.

Full-Game Side Bet

The Cardinals are limited in what they’re able to do offensively, particularly at the quarterback position. As impressive as Cunningham’s running performance was against Western Kentucky, his inability to throw the ball downfield is a problem that will be exposed as the Cardinals play better competition.

Virginia lacks the defensive prowess to shut him down completely, but they should do a better job than Western Kentucky of containment.

Cunningham hasn’t thrown for 100 yards in either of his appearances in the last couple weeks. That should create a scenario where the defense presses and tries to force him to beat them with his arm, which could ultimately lead to turnovers.

As long as Virginia remains balanced on offense, they should be able to power past Louisville’s defense. Ellis’ usage will be important in this game considering the Cardinals have given up 150-plus rushing yards in each of their last three outings.

Prediction: Virginia Cavaliers

Full-Game Total Pick

Neither one of these teams have spectacular defenses, but there is explosive offensive potential in this game, particularly for the Cavaliers. The over is 4-1 in their last five home games.  They’ll run the ball up and down the field on that Cardinals defense, while also giving up 20-plus points on the other side of the ball.

Prediction: Over (55)

Jordy McElroy

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