To understand BetFirm’s late-breaking upset pick for Rivalry Weekend, it’s important to know that teams take on the character of their head coaches. The NCAA is littered with great coaches who make their players better, average coaches who deal in cliches, and human train-wrecks like Lane Kiffin, leaving disaster in their wake. But level-of-success and consistency are not the only character traits passed from mentor to student-athlete.
Bobby Petrino, for instance, coached average (and well-below average) teams in the NFL. That’s interesting because his Louisville Cardinals are following the roller-coaster trajectory of a mediocre NFL team.
Louisville lost to Clemson early in September, and was then written off after 2 straight mid-season losses. Betting odds jumped in their opponents’ direction. But then they beat Florida State! Bookies started to believe in Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals as point-spread favorites. Sooooo…they lost to Wake Forest the next week.
Now it’s the final Saturday of the season, and the bookies are all about Louisville again, based on a 56-10 thrashing of Syracuse to go to 7-4. But the point spread still feels funny considering they’re up against a blood rival from the SEC…who are also 7-4.
Who: Louisville Cardinals at Kentucky Wildcats
When: Saturday, November 25th, 12 PM EST
Where: Kroger Field, Lexington KY
Lines: LOU (-10) at KY (+10) / O/U Total: (68)
Kentucky has waged a highly-underrated campaign in ’17. Yes, they have fallen well-short in each opportunity against a truly top-ranked team. But the long-time SEC doormat is building. They have a 1000+ yard rusher in Benny Snell Jr, a competent passer in Stephen Johnson, and a defense that lacks imposing power but stopped a surging Missouri team in the clutch and held South Carolina to 13 points.
That’s not to say Louisville isn’t a threat to score each time they have the ball. In addition to Jackson’s prodigious talent, receivers like Dez Fitzpatrick have stepped to the fore in 2017. There are enough role-player RBs on the roster to break big plays here and there, the result being an offense with multiple deadly weapons.
But the defense is porous, discipline is up and down, and the Cardinals are due for another dip in their endless bio-rhythm. Whipping a tired Syracuse team that traveled through icy skies is different than going into Lexington and pushing the Wildcats around. Louisville can win, but the 10 points are absurd.
Take the Wildcats and the points. This one could easily go either way SU, so getting spotted (+10) is icing on the cake.