One team will become bowl eligible this week and one team will have to keep trying when the Miami Hurricanes play host to the Louisville Cardinals. Kickoff is set for 3:30 EST on Saturday, November 9 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. The game can be seen on ESPN2.
According to the Week 11 betting odds, the Hurricanes are 6.5-point favorites at home. The game also has an over/under of 51.5 points.
The Cardinals continue to surprise people in Scott Satterfield’s first season in Louisville. Last week, they knocked off ACC Coastal favorites Virginia 28-21, giving them three wins in their last four games. That stretch also includes wins over Boston College and a ranked Wake Forest team, with the only loss coming against Clemson.
With last week’s win, Louisville sits at 5-3 and 3-2 in ACC play heading into the final four weeks of the season. The Cardinals need just one more win to become bowl eligible, which would have been the best-case scenario for Satterfield at the start of the season. The only caveat is that Louisville is on the road for three of their final four games after only playing two road games in their first eight games.
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes continue what has been a frustrating and inconsistent season under first-year head coach Manny Diaz. However, Miami has plenty of highs this year, including last week’s 27-10 road win over in-state rival Florida State. With three wins in their last four games, Miami is sitting at 5-4 overall and 3-3 in ACC play.
The Hurricanes are a game behind Virginia and Pittsburgh in the loss column in the ACC Coastal division standings. But they have head-to-head wins over both teams, so if they can win their two remaining ACC games and get a little bit of help, winning the Coastal isn’t out of the question. Of course, Miami still needs one more win in their final three games to qualify for a bowl game and this week is their final home game of the season.
This will be just the second time Miami and Louisville have met as ACC opponents since the Cardinals joined the conference in 2014. They met that first season with Louisville winning 31-13. The Cards and ‘Canes also met in a bowl game the previous year with Louisville winning in a rout. Miami’s last win over Louisville came in 2004, although the teams have met just three times since then.
The Hurricanes have been a little hard to trust as favorites this season, losing to both Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech as double-digit home favorites. But I’m willing to give Miami one more chance. They’ve made some strides the past two weeks and I think they’re finally ready to put together a complete performance in front of their home fans. I don’t mind laying down the points and taking the Hurricanes to win by at least a touchdown.
The biggest takeaway from last week’s win over Florida State had to have been the play of freshman quarterback Jarren Williams. Despite going back and forth with N’Kosi Perry over the last several weeks, Williams is back in the starting role. He threw the game-winning touchdown pass against Pitt and then threw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns against FSU. Williams was far from perfect, but considering the Hurricanes got little from their running game, the freshman handled himself well on the road and was able to limit his mistakes. That makes me think he’s gotten over the hump and ready to finish the season strong.
It’s not as if the Louisville defense has been overly impressive this season. Last week’s game against Virginia was the first time they held an ACC opponent to under 35 points. Keep in mind that they’ve played most of their games at home this season. The Cardinals have to go on the road this week with a defense that’s been exposed on both the ground and through the air. I don’t think that bodes well for the Louisville defense to keep the Hurricanes in check unless Williams regresses and turns the ball over.
On the other side of the ball, I’m still not sold on the Louisville passing attack. The Cardinals have been great at running the ball this year behind Javian Hawkins and mobile quarterback Micale Cunningham. But the Miami defense is capable of containing the run, doing so convincingly against FSU’s Cam Akers last week. If that happens this week, I’m not sure the Cardinals have an answer. Both Cunningham and Evan Conley will play and have been good at times. But both have had success passing the ball because the Cardinals can run the ball. If the Hurricanes take that away, it could be a different story.
Ultimately, I put my faith in Williams and the Miami defense. If both play up to their potential, the Hurricanes should win this game comfortably. Keep in mind Miami is giving up just 18 points per game this year. I’ll trust the Hurricanes to bring their best effort in their home finale and cover against the Cardinals.