LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (4-1)
at NC STATE WOLFPACK (4-1)
Carter-Finley Stadium – Raleigh, NC
Kickoff: Thursday, 8:00 p.m. ET
Line: Louisville -4.0, Total: 64.5
#24 North Carolina State will be hoping to pull off a Thursday night upset over Lamar Jackson and #17 Louisville.
Louisville is coming off of a 55-10 victory over Murray State last week, but the team was favored by 49.5 in that one. The Cardinals have now won two straight games, but they have also failed to cover in three straight. They have not yet played up to the level that many expected them to, but all would be forgotten with a victory over this Wolfpack team here. NC State is now ranked in the AP Poll, which is a change for this program when looking at the past few years. The Wolfpack are out to prove that they are legit, but they can only do that by defeating the Cardinals in this one. They were relatively unimpressive in a 33-25 victory over Syracuse last week and their 27-21 win against the Seminoles on Sep. 23 is looking weaker now than it did at the time. That means that the team must show it can beat another elite program, especially after losing to a mediocre South Carolina team in the opening week of the season. It’s worth noting that the Cardinals have won three straight in this head-to-head series. Also trending in Louisville’s favor is the fact that NC State is 40-60 ATS in weeks 5 through 9 since 1992. The Wolfpack are, however, an impressive 30-13 ATS off two or more consecutive Unders since then.
The Cardinals are going to be hungry for a victory over a ranked team on Thursday, as they did not show up when they faced their only other ranked foe this season. That was a blowout loss to Clemson, and this game shouldn’t be quite as tough for Louisville. Having said that, the team is going to need a huge performance from QB Lamar Jackson (1,636 yards, 13 TD, 3 INT) in order to win this game. Jackson threw for 249 yards with three touchdowns and no picks against Murray State last week, and he also added 100 yards and a touchdown on the ground. His ability to run the ball has always separated him as one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, but he has also made huge improvements as a passer this season. Jackson had never had a completion % of 60.0 in his college career, but he is at 64.0 thus far. He’ll need to be efficient here as well or NC State will likely win this one. On defense, the Cardinals will be facing a rather balanced Wolfpack attack. The Cardinals will, however, need to focus on getting some pressure on Ryan Finley. They’ll also need to make sure they have their eyes on Jaylen Samuels at all times.
QB Ryan Finley (1,403 yards, 9 TD, 0 INT) started his career at Boise State, but he is now at NC State and he has really fit in well here. Finley is off to a great start this season, as he has not yet thrown a pick and the Wolfpack have been winning games. He’ll be asked to make some more plays in this game than usual, but he should be up to the task here. Finley played well in the win over Florida State, throwing for 230 yards with two touchdowns and no picks. That was his biggest test of the year, but this one should be even tougher. One thing he’ll definitely look to do is find TE Jaylen Samuels (43 rec, 321 yards, 3 TD) for some easy completions. Last week, Samuels had five receptions for 37 yards and also rushed nine times for 74 yards and a score. He’s one of the only tight ends that you’ll ever see running the football, but he’s good at it and it throws opposing defenses off. The Wolfpack will also run the ball frequently with RB Nyheim Hines (411 yards, 3 TD). Hines rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown against Syracuse and will need to have at least 80 or so here. And on defense, the entire gameplan will be based on stopping Jackson. The team should be focused on keeping him in the pocket, as he is far too dangerous to stop when on the move.