Louisville Win-Total Pick
With the Heisman Trophy winner back under center, can the Louisville Cardinals contend for a spot in the College Football Playoffs this season?
According to oddsmakers at BetDSI, Louisville is listed with 28/1 odds to win the College Football Playoffs this season. The Cardinals are also listed with 5/1 odds to win the ACC while their over/under total for regular-season wins is listed at 9.5. The over and under both carry a -115 line.
Bobby Petrino is entering this fourth season in his second stint with Louisville and his eighth overall season as head coach. He is 67-22 all-time with the Cardinals, including a 9-4 record last season that saw Louisville fall in the Citrus Bowl to LSU, 29-9. Petrino hasn’t managed to get to 10 wins with his team these last three seasons as part of the ACC.
The 2016 season was all about Lamar Jackson for Louisville, as he cruised to the Heisman Trophy as a true sophomore by throwing for 3,543 yards and 30 touchdowns while also rushing for 1,571 yards and 21 scores. He carried Louisville to the fifth best offense in the nation last season at 42.5 points and 533 yards per game. Louisville will be replacing its top three receivers from a year ago, as well as its leading rushing behind Jackson. Defensively, Louisville ranked in the top-10 a year ago as well, allowing just 23.3 points and 316 yards per game. Stacy Thomas returns at linebacker to lead the team as a senior. He had 85 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss in 2016. Also back is linebacker James Hearns, who lead the team in sacks with 8 to go along with 11 tackles for loss. Junior cornerback Jaire Alexander also returns after leading the team in INT’s last year with five, along with 9 pass deflections.
When looking at the numbers, it’s hard to believe Louisville lost four games a year ago. They were edged at Clemson and at home by Kentucky while getting manhandled at Houston and vs. LSU. This season begins with a game vs. Purdue at Lucas Oil Stadium, which should be an easy win. Then things get tough as the Cardinals travel to UNC and host Clemson in Weeks 2 and 3. Louisville will host Kent State and Murray State before returning to ACC play against N.C. State on the road. The Cardinals also travel to Florida State and Wake Forest while hosting BC, Virginia and Syracuse. The season concludes at rival Kentucky. I see Louisville’s offense being close to the same as 2016. Jackson is a year wiser and maybe even faster. He should be able to develop some new receivers to keep the offense rolling. The defense may not be able to maintain its top numbers, but should still be very tough as well. I feel like Louisville has a sure 8 wins, but getting to 10 is another story. The Cardinals don’t have a history of 10-win regular seasons, especially in the ACC. It’s not easy to get that first one under your belt. If they couldn’t do it with last year’s roster, I am not sure they can this year.
2017 WIN TOTAL PREDICTION: LOUISVILLE UNDER 9.5 (-115)