Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, August 31, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Even though Miami and Louisville happened to play EACH OTHER the last time they took the field, last season’s Russell Athletic Bowl should look nothing like Monday Night’s weekend finale when the two teams square off on ESPN.
Among the differences:
*Louisville is no longer coached by Charlie Strong. He began his new job as head man with the Texas Longhorns with a 38-7 victory over North Texas Saturday night. It’s BOBBY PETRINO who will be back on the sidelines for the Cardinals. This is where he first made a name for himself before getting into some trouble at Arkansas for off the field misbehavior. You have to forget everything you knew about Strong’s “smash mouth” style when handicapping Louisville, and go back to the wide-open up tempo attack favored by Petrino.
*Louisville no longer has Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback throwing passes. He’s in the NFL now, hoping to earn the starting job for the Minnesota Vikings.
*Miami no longer has Stephen Morris at quarterback. He’s a longer shot to latch on in a meaningful way in the NFL. But, he was a reasonably productive college player.
*Oh, this is now a CONFERENCE GAME! Louisville has joined the ACC. Last year’s bowl matchup was an interconference game pairing the American Athletic Conference and the ACC. Now the Cards and Hurricanes are conference foes, and this result will count in the standings that determine who plays in the ACC title tilt.
With all that as a backdrop, let’s now go to our key preview numbers from our summer series of conference previews for some additional context…
Record: 9-4 (lost to Louisville 38-9 in Russell Athletic Bowl)
Rankings: 48 on offense, 89 on defense
Returning Starters: 5 on offense, 7 on defense
Quarterback: Brad Kaaya (projected starter Kevin Olsen suspended for this game)
Kaaya earned the job just a few days ago…and has a chance to grab the position permanently with a good outing. Olsen had the inside track last Spring. But, current reports say he’s suspended for “at least one game,” and he wasn’t even allowed to make this road trip. It’s Kaaya’s job to lose by all accounts. Be sure you’re evaluating his performance so you can make smart choices in future Miami games.
Record: 12-1 (beat Miami 38-9 in Russell Athletic Bowl)
Rankings: 28 on offense, 1 on defense
Returning Starters: 7 on offense, 4 on defense
Quarterback: Will Gardner (sophomore, replaces Teddy Bridgewater)
Gardner just got the nod a few days ago himself. Very hard to know what to expect when a new, inexperienced quarterback is running a new offense from a new head coach! We can expect pace and aggression. Be can’t know if Gardner will throw accurately until we see him in the pocket. Note that Louisville’s defense is likely to be MUCH worse this season because Strong was a defensive mastermind…and because only four starters are back on that side of the ball. Ranking #1 in the nation on defense is something to be proud of. Can they even be top 40 under Petrino?
Las Vegas Line: Louisville by 3.5, total of 53.5
As we write up this preview, Louisville is still laying the hook over the key number of three. That tells you that smart money is expecting Petrino to have success fairly quickly, and that there’s more optimism about what Gardner can do in his offense than there is for what Kaaya can do for Al Golden. Though, it’s not like the line is seven! Sharps know that the number of question marks in this game make it a dicey investment proposition.
JIM HURLEY has been working very closely with his sources in the ACC to make sure his clients make the right play. Perhaps that’s on the Over/Under rather than the team side! You can purchase the final word during the morning or afternoon of Labor Day right her eat the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about seasonal packages, or combination packages for football and baseball, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155. We’re now just a few days away from the start of the NFL!
Speaking of the NFL…we’ll be studying pro topics the next three days here in the NOTEBOOK. Here’s the upcoming schedule…
Tuesday: Final Look at AFC Market Estimates for Team Victories
Wednesday: Final Look at NFC Market Estimates for Team Victories
Thursday: NFL TV Preview…Green Bay at Seattle (pro season begins!)
Friday: Early College Preview…USC at Stanford
Saturday: College Football TV Preview…Michigan State at Oregon
Sunday: NFL Sunday Night TV Preview…Indianapolis at Denver
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