- Central Florida will visit Louisville on Friday night at 7:30 pm ET on ESPN
- The series is tied at 1-1 between the two schools. After faltering in a major way on the national stage in Game One, this has now turned into an unranked but critical game for Louisville
- Scroll below for the odds and a breakdown on the Friday night game
Louisville (1-1) welcomes the UCF Golden Knights (2-0) on Friday night at 7:30pm on ESPN. This game has been dubbed by many Louisville fans as the biggest in the career of Scott Satterfield. After being demolished on the national stage by Ole Miss, the unrest within the fanbase has settled in. Louisville is 2-5 against the spread (ATS) in its last seven games.
For Central Florida, Friday is another step in the journey to collecting a New Year’s Six bowl game. The Golden Knights know how small room they have for slippage if they hope to be playing then. Their first major test came at home against Boise State, they passed and now we’ll see how they fare on the road. The good news? UCF is 6-1 straight up in its last seven away games.
In what promises to be a critical game for both sides, how will the teams fare? Let’s find out.
Louisville vs UCF Odds
|Louisville||+7 (-110)||+220||U 67.5 (-110)|
|UCF||-7 (-110)||-275||O 67.5 (-110)|
Odds via DraftKings on September 16thAdvertising Disclosure
Louisville Searching for Offensive Identity
Louisville is a team without an offensive identity. They want to run the ball but can’t. They want to rely on their offensive line to bully people off the ball but also have been unable to do that.
Louisville success rate by quarter yesterday.
Back to back 0% in the 3rd/4th quarter on passing downs which seems to a common theme with this team. Screams out predictive playcalling in 2nd and 5+ situations. This is inexcusable. pic.twitter.com/ch1OTZJf9w
— Chris Hatfield (@ChrisDHatfield) September 12, 2021
In two games against two of the worst rushing defenses the Cardinals will see, they’ve struggled to run the ball. Last week, against FCS opponent Eastern Kentucky, Louisville accumulated 107 rushing yards for an average of 3.2 per carry. That’s not ideal for a run-heavy offense against an FCS opponent. It gets worse the deeper you get into the numbers. Louisville posted 27 open-field yards. Their longest carry was only 16 yards in the third quarter.
Louisville QB Malik Cunningham leads the team in passing, rushing and receiving yards…
Probably not how the Cardinals drew it up 😬 pic.twitter.com/5HX68PfuT8
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) September 7, 2021
The best barometer to judge Louisville thus far comes in their first game against Ole Miss. And things there? They were less than ideal. The graphic above is a good primer of how bad the first half was for the Cardinals. The second half of Ole Miss being on auto-pilot clouds this numbers some, but they still aren’t great.
Louisville's explosiveness by quarter against Ole Miss pic.twitter.com/KjTEsLrbEc
— Chris Hatfield (@ChrisDHatfield) September 15, 2021
Louisville was hardly explosive, beyond the fourth quarter, a stat that’s hard to put much stock into given how out of hand it was. The aspect of the offense is relevant when you’re facing an explosive offense. Once again they had an anemic 20 rushing yards in the open field. This issue isn’t as large when you can pass the ball with great success. Louisville hasn’t demonstrated the capacity to do that.
Central Florida looking to Continue it’s Defensive Dominance
The best trivia question you can ask someone right now? Who the best rushing defense in College Football is. Most would say Georgia. Some would say Oregon after it’s dominant performance against Ohio State. But, by the numbers, it’s Central Florida. The Golden Knights have given up a stunning 44 yards in the two games to the tune of 1.1 yards per carry.
Central Florida's defensive havoc ratings against Boise State. Front Seven creating so many issues against a better offensive line will be an issue for Louisville. A good way to put this in perspective is Georgia front seven posted a .167 against Clemson. pic.twitter.com/wBOHEg02gA
— Chris Hatfield (@ChrisDHatfield) September 15, 2021
One of the best ways to measure defensive success in College Football is it’s havoc rate. Central Florida created an impressive amount of havoc against Boise State, particularly in it’s front seven. That’s something that’s a pretty big deal against Louisville. Especially when you consider how much they want to run the ball as previously mentioned.
— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) September 15, 2021
The prudent play for this game may be taking UCF and the points. While I do expect Central Florida to cover, I do give it a slight pause for two reasons:
1. I expect Louisville Head Coach Scott Satterfield to pull out all the stops in such a critical game.
2. Sharps and public alike have pounded Louisville as the Cardinals are now receiving 68% of the money. The spread has also moved a full two points in most places since opening.
— Louisville Football (@UofLFootball) September 14, 2021
Instead, I will look at the total.
Louisville’s defense is the most improved aspect of its team from a season ago and I expect that to continue. The lack of explosiveness and a talented run defense for UCF will mean lengthy drives with limited points for Louisville. I will look to play the under 68 (-120) and would play it all the way down to 65.5.
- Prediction: Under 68 (-120)