The Louisville Cardinals (6-4, 5-2) will head to the Steel City as they clash with the Pitt Panthers (7-3, 5-1) in an ACC matchup Saturday afternoon. Pitt has won four of the last five meetings but Louisville claimed a 45-35 win on the road as a 2.5 point favorite in the most recent matchup between the teams on October 13, 2012.
Louisville has won four straight and six of seven after starting the season 0-3 by knocking off Virginia 38-31 at home Saturday. Pitt picked up a 31-13 win on the road at Duke Saturday to snap a two game losing skid. Kickoff from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is scheduled for 3:45 pm ET and will be televised on ESPNEWS. Pitt is currently a 2 point favorite in this contest with the over/under set at 48 points.
Louisville has put things together after their dismal start and managed to pick up another important win over Virginia. The Cardinals broke a 24-24 tie by scoring 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and then held on for the win. Louisville outgained Virginia 425-354, won the first down battle 23-22 and lost the time of possession battle 33:29 to 26:31 in the contest. The Cardinals overcame a pair of turnovers in the win as they forced only one turnover but they still ended up victorious in the end when all was said and done.
The Cardinals are still working on their offense due to multiple quarterbacks under center as they are 46th (242.9 yards per game) in passing offense and tied for 82nd in rushing (160.3 yards per game) this season; Louisville averages 27.4 points a game and are currently tied for 35th in scoring defense by allowing 22.3 points allowed per game. Three quarterbacks have played for Louisville this season; the trio has combined to complete 58 percent of their passes for 2,429 yards with 15 touchdowns and 11 picks. Lamar Jackson (106 of 183, 57.9 percent completion rate, 1342 yards, 8 TD, 7 INT, team high 529 rushing yards, 6 TD) has seen the most snaps. Kyle Bolin (66 of 112, 934 yards, 5 TD, 3 INT) is next in line on the depth chart as Reggie Bonnafon (13 of 23, 153 yards, 2 TD, INT, 146 rushing yards) has fallen down the depth chart. Brandon Radcliff is the main running back for the Cardinals as he has 107 carries for 526 yards and five scores while Jeremy Smith contributes 60 carries for 270 yards and three scores. Jaylen Smith is third on the team with 25 receptions for 351 yards and a score; James Quick (team high 29 receptions, team high 437 yards, 4 TD), Traveon Samuel (16 catches, 144 yards), Jamari Staples (26 receptions, 405 yards, 2 TD), Micky Crum (13 grabs, 161 yards, 2 TD) and Ja’Quay Savage (12 catches, 135 yards, TD) are other targets in the passing game. John Wallace has hit all 34 extra points but is 12 of 17 on field goals with a long of 50 yards.
Pitt put together a solid performance in the second half against Duke as they outscored the Blue Devils 21-3 after intermission to get the victory. The Panthers outgained the Blue Devils 448-361, won the first down battle 26-18 and dominated time of possession by a 39:45 to 20:15 margin in the victory. Pitt finished a +2 in the takeaway/giveaway ratio as they forced three turnovers by Duke while only committing one miscue of their own in the contest. Nathan Peterman tied a career high with three TD passes.
The Panthers have had their fair share of struggles offensively as they are only 98th in the FBS in passing offense with an average of 196.7 yards per contest; they are 57th in rushing with an average of 179.9 yards per game. The Panthers average 27 points per game and currently rank 45th in scoring defense as they give up an average of 23.2 points per contest, giving them a scoring differential of +3.8 points per game. Nathan Peterman (145 of 232, 1776 yards, 14 TD, 4 INT) has supplanted Chad Voytik (16 of 24, 112 yards, TD, INT) at quarterback. Qadree Ellison is the team’s leading rusher with 166 carries for 859 yards and nine scores as he’s replaced the injured James Conner (8 carries, 77 yards, 2 TD), who is done for the year. Darrin Hall (46 carries, 142 yards, TD) and Chris James (55 carries, 249 yards) are the backups to Ellison at this point in time. The passing game, first and foremost, goes through Tyler Boyd, who has 69 receptions for 700 yards and five scores while J.P. Holtz is next in line with 21 grabs for 328 yards and four scores; other than Dontez Ford (21 grabs, 421 yards, TD), no other Pitt player has more than 10 catches. Chris Blewitt has hit 31 of 32 extra points and 13 of 18 field goals with a long of 56 yards on the year.
Louisville is 19-7 ATS in their last 26 on the road against teams with a winning home record and 26-10 ATS in their last 36 on the road. Pitt is 5-11 ATS in their last 16 after a straight up win, 1-4 ATS in their last five home games against teams with a winning road record and 0-5 ATS in their last five at home.
The Cardinals have been red hot of late, even with Lamar Jackson missing the Virginia game. Pitt has been up and down; the Panthers hope their win over Duke is the start of a turnaround but it’s tough to like them when they’re so inconsistent. Louisville has made strides after starting 0-3 and has plenty of optimism going into this contest; look for the Cardinals to win their fifth in a row as they upend the Panthers, take the points here.