The Louisville Cardinals are traveling to Carter-Finley stadium to take on the NC State Wolfpack in an ACC matchup on Friday. The Wolfpack narrowly defeated Virginia on a game-winning field goal last week, while Louisville dominated Boston College 56-28. A high-powered offense meets a solid defense in this conference matchup under the lights. The Cardinals are three-point favorites according to most sportsbooks, and the total is 55.5.
Wolfpack Outlook: Finding Their Stride
NC State has been just good enough this season. Their loss to Notre Dame was difficult but expected, as Notre Dame is a top-15 team in the country. Quarterback Brennan Armstrong has been a slight upgrade over the Wolfpack’s 2022 quarterback production but leaves a lot to be desired. Armstrong has passed for 851 yards and five touchdowns and has been the team’s biggest rushing threat with 225 yards and three touchdowns. However, he has thrown four interceptions and has only completed 60% of his passes. This matchup on Friday will come down to the Wolfpack passing game being competitive enough to score with the Cardinals. The Wolfpack will need Kevin Concepcion to build off of his two-touchdown, 116-yard game against Virginia. Louisville will undoubtedly score their share of points, so the NC State passing game will need to follow suit. Brad Rozner, Keyon Lesane, and the rest of the receiving corps will need to step up as well, as no other player had more than 22 yards last week.
On Defense, the Wolfpack have heavily relied on their stars and will need another big performance from Payton Wilson and company to keep this game close. Wilson has 46 tackles, doubling any other player on the team. Shyheim Battle had a rough showing last week and will need to step up, as he had multiple mishaps that allowed big plays for the Cavaliers. Aydan White continues to be solid, and quarterbacks have learned not to throw near him when they can help it. As good as these three are, this game will come down to stopping the dominant Cardinal rushing attack. NC State has allowed 114 yards per game, while Louisville averages 273.4 per game. Davin Vann will need to continue to produce pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and the rest of the front seven will need to play well in the run game.
Cardinals Outlook: Staying Consistent Away from Home
The Cardinals began the season 4-0 but took their first road trip to one of the more difficult places to win in the ACC. The Cardinals’ offense has averaged the ninth most points in the country with 43 per game. Quarterback Jack Plummer has been great so far, passing for 1120 yards and 10 touchdowns. Plummer has fed Jamari Thrash 400 yards and five of his touchdowns. Thrash will have to beat the Wolfpack corner duo of White and Battle, with White more than likely shadowing him. The Cardinals’ offense has found tremendous success running through Jawhar Jordan, as he has amassed 478 yards this season. The Wolfpack’s weakness has been the run defense, so Jordan will absolutely see heavy usage on Friday. Louisville will control this game if they continue to dominate on the ground, and Plummer’s play so far will prevent NC State from loading up against the run.
On defense, the Cardinals have been solid, allowing 19 points per game. The big question for Louisville is how they will fair against better offenses, as they have yet to play a very good one yet. Georgia Tech scored 34 on them, and Boston College mustered 28. No defensive player has stuck out as a star, but all have been decent. TJ Quinn leads the team in tackles with 22. The defense has created six turnovers, and Armstrong is subject to giveaways. The key to success is limiting Armstrong on the ground and preventing big plays. If the Cardinals keep the Wolfpack under 24 points, the Wolfpack will be hard-pressed to keep Louisville from besting them.
NC State vs. Louisville: Prediction
NC State has a reputation of being very difficult to beat at home. The defense is solid, and the offense has begun to show signs of life. Louisville’s offense has been elite so far but has to show up on the road. In the past two contests, the home team has won. On Friday, this ACC matchup may cause this trend to end. The Wolfpack have struggled to stop the run, and Louisville has run the ball very well this season. NC State will keep this game close, but the offense may not have the firepower to compete with the Cardinals.
Score Prediction: Louisville 31, NC State 28