Kent State Golden Flashes vs. Louisville Cardinals
Date and Time: Saturday, September 23, 2017, 12 p.m. ET
Location: Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, KY
Opening College Football Odds: Louisville -38
Kent State vs. Louisville TV Coverage: ACC Network
What to make of the Cardinals right now? They haven't really had an "easy" win yet this season, as their victories over Purdue and North Carolina showcased some real problems on both sides of the ball. And when Clemson came to town last Saturday night in what was supposed to be the crowning moment of the season for Lamar Jackson and company, it was never a contest.
Louisville didn't score its second touchdown until the fourth quarter, and it went a stretch of right around 35 minutes without putting a single point on the board. Jackson flat out doesn't do that against just anyone.
Oh sure, Louisville still finished with 433 yards of offense and only turned the ball over once, but Clemson had 613 yards of total offense, something that could be a big problem for Bobby Petrino's boys the rest of the year.
This Kent State team isn't good, though. The Golden Flashes were beaten 21-0 by Marshall last week, and that came on the heels of getting blasted 56-3 by Clemson in the opening week of the campaign. Sure, the Flashes were able to take care of a Howard team that upset UNLV the week prior, but a 38-31 win over a bad FCS team is nothing to write home about.
To say that Kent State has some quarterback problems is an understatement. Nick Holley is the team's starting quarterback, but he went out with an injury against Marshall. Not that Holley was effective anyway in three games this season. He is just 9-for-20 for 106 yards thus far on the campaign, averaging 5.30 yards per pass attempt.
George Bollas was no better replacing Holley when he came in against Marshall. At least true freshman Dustin Crum completed a 40-yard pass and had the look of a legitimate quarterback.
With Holley on the mend (and even if he wasn't), it wouldn't be a shock to see Crum play in this one and at least try to hang in there against a Louisville defense that has historically excelled against poor rushing attacks. It's not like what Holley is doing is going to shock the Cardinals; they see this same type of spread option every day in practice with a superiorly talented Jackson calling the shots.
Kent State vs. Louisville Free Picks
We hate calling for a team to cover a silly point spread like this one at Louisville -38, but we don't see any other options. Kent State has no quarterback to choose from of any worth whatsoever, and if Holley really is out of the fold or benched, there isn't a single player on this team that has 90 yards rushing or 60 yards receiving (in three games, mind you).
Jackson has been a stat-stuffing machine over the course of his career in games like this one, and this shouldn't be an exception. Whether he can right his Heisman Trophy candidacy after the dud against Clemson remains to be seen, but we suspect the numbers aren't going to lie.
When the only claim you have to bet on a team at a top five sportsbook is that that's a lot of points, you're only praying for victory instead of banking on it. Louisville won't make a mistake and will have this number covered by the start of the fourth quarter.
College Football ATS Pick: Louisville -38 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: Louisville 63, Kent State 7