Louisville Cardinals vs. N.C. State Wolfpack
Date and Time: Thursday, October 5, 2017, 8 p.m. ET
Location: Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, NC
Opening College Football Odds: Louisville -1
Louisville vs. N.C. State TV Coverage: ESPN
The Wolfpack already have a win over Florida State on the road this year, and Dave Doeren's team is drawing some tremendous strength from that. The Pack feel like they belong in the Top 25 and should also be in the discussion for the ACC Atlantic Division title alongside FSU, Clemson and this Louisville team.
Let's also remember that defensive back Mike Stevens finally made his season debut this past week against Syracuse. He's a legitimate NFL prospect who could help out a defense that hasn't really had a complete, start-to-finish game.
Offensively, this is one of the better teams in the ACC. The Wolfpack are averaging 462.0 yards and 34.8 points per game, and their display against FSU was probably the most impressive of the bunch. This is a team that is built well in the trenches and isn't going to be intimidated going against all of the great athletes Louisville is bringing to Raleigh.
Statistically speaking, it's hard to argue with anything Lamar Jackson has done this season for the Cardinals. He's an amazing athlete who is going to hope to improve enough as a passer to give him a career on Sundays in the near future. He has 1,636 yards as a passer and 437 more as a rusher, accounting for 18 touchdowns in five games to kick off the campaign.
But who have the Cardinals beaten? Their best win is against a North Carolina team that has vastly underachieved this year. Plus, in these last two games, all of the best online sportsbooks have lined the Cards as six- and seven-touchdown favorites against Kent State and Murray State. Those two wins were 42-3 and 55-10 respectively, and neither game was covered.
85.6 – The number of rushing yards per game the Wolfpack are conceding this year.
NCSU has been dominant along the defensive line this season, and this is the one aspect of this game that should scare the snot out of the Cardinals.
Florida State absolutely couldn't block Bradley Chubb when those two teams played a couple weeks ago, and Louisville's offensive line is no better. The Wolfpack came into the season with the No. 5-ranked defensive line in America according to ESPN, higher than Alabama. Chubb, Kentavious Street, B.J. Hill and Darian Roseboro are all NFL prospects, and it's possible there are a couple first-rounders in this bunch.
We hope that Jackson has his life insurance policy paid up before stepping on the field in this one, because he's going to get whacked a number of times by these big boys.
Louisville vs. N.C. State Free Picks
The last thing this Louisville team needed was to be in the national spotlight. The Cardinals are obviously beleaguered right now with all of the mess going on with their basketball program, and having ESPN all around them this week isn't going to help their football team either. Sure, they skated past Murray State with ease, but this is a far different story.
More important, even without all of the drama we're talking about, we're not all that sure that Louisville has the better of these two teams. Jackson is a stud, but if he's neutralized, what's left for the Cards? We're not all that sure.
All of that emphasis on recruiting skill position players at Louisville is about to be blown up by one of the most talented defensive lines in the nation. We suspect this is going to be the game that assures Jackson won't be anywhere near a second consecutive Heisman Trophy. We love NCSU in an upset.
College Football ATS Pick: N.C. State +1 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: N.C. State 34, Louisville 28