FACTS & STATS: Site: Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium (55,000) — Louisville,
Kentucky. Television: Raycom Sports Network. Home Record: NC State 3-2,
Louisville 3-0. Away Record: NC State 1-1, Louisville 2-2. Neutral Record: NC
State 0-0, Louisville 0-0. Conference Record: NC State 0-3, Louisville 3-2.
Series Record: Louisville leads, 3-1.
GAME NOTES: A pair of Atlantic Coast Conference teams look to get back into
the win column Saturday when the Louisville Cardinals host the NC State
Wolfpack at Cardinal Stadium.
NC State dropped its third straight game last weekend, losing at home to
Boston College, 30-14. The Wolfpack, who fell to 4-3 overall and 0-3 in the
ACC, had trouble stopping dual-threat QB Tyler Murphy, who threw for 101 yards
and rushed for another 132 and two touchdowns. Jon Hilliman and Sherman Alston
each had a touchdown on the ground, running for a combined 138 yards.
Wolfpack QB Jacoby Brissett threw for 174 yards and a touchdown on 14-of-30
passing and he was intercepted once and sacked four times.
It wasn’t just the offense that struggled for NC State. Boston College
accumulated 411 yards, almost double that of NC State’s 217.
The NC State defense is now allowing 398.3 yards of offense per game and over
28 ppg. It’s pretty balanced with the Wolfpack yielding 190.9 yards on the
ground and 207.4 through the air.
Since losing to Florida State 56-41 on September 27, the Wolfpack have scored
just 14 points over their last two games. For the season, NC State is scoring
an average of 30.9 ppg and gaining 414 yards of offense, but those numbers are
on the decline since entering conference play.
Brissett is completing passes at a 62-percent clip for 1,573 yards with 14
touchdowns and two interceptions to lead the offense. Shadrach Thornton is the
leading rusher, accumulating 423 yards and seven scores on the ground this
season. Bo Hines is Brissett’s favorite target, hauling in 26 catches for 347
Louisville is also coming off a loss last weekend, falling 23-17 at Clemson.
Quarterback Will Gardner threw for 150 yards and one touchdown on 10-of-16
passing in for the Cardinals, who had a three-game win streak halted. James
Quick was his top target with six catches for 101 yards for Louisville, which
fell to 5-2 overall and 3-2 in the ACC.
For the season, Gardner is averaging 189.6 ypg on 57 percent passing. He’s
tossed nine TDs and just two picks, while Quick is the leading receiver with
29 catches for 449 yards and three scored.
As a whole, the offense is averaging 31 ppg and gaining an average of 370.6
yards per game.
Fortunately, the defense has been carrying the team. After holding Clemson to
229 yards of total offense, 261 yards below its season average, the Cardinals
are tops in the country in total defense, yielding just 230.7 yards per game.
Louisville has allowed 99 points through seven games, an average of 14.1
points per game, which ranks third nationally. That number is deceiving,
however, because the defense has allowed 78 of those points, which is an 11.1
per game average. The Cardinals have fumbled twice in the end zone that the
opposition has recovered for touchdowns, and also gave up a 72-yard punt
return for a touchdown versus Clemson.
The Cardinals haven’t allowed a touchdown in the last 17 quarters dating back
to their 23-21 loss to Virginia on Sept. 13, allowing just eight field goals
over that span.
This is just the fifth all-time meeting between these two schools, with the
Cardinals holding a 3-1 series advantage. The Wolfpack, however, won the last
encounter 31-24 in the 2011 Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C.
The Cardinals have won 21 straight games at home under head coach Bobby
Petrino, dating back to his first term with the Cardinals from 2003-06. Don’t
expect anything different here. NC State has had problems offensively recently
and this isn’t a matchup that is favorable for a struggling offense.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisville 35, NC State 10