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Louisville vs. UCF, Friday, September 9 7:30 ET
Friday Night Lights is typically reserved for the clear eyes and full hearts of the high school ranks, but this time, we get a nice game to watch on national television. This game might even have the drama that we enjoy from the scripted show referenced in the opening sentence. I think that part is a little unlikely, but we can still put money on the game.
Louisville isn’t known for a football program, and in their opening game against Syracuse, they showed why. They lost the game 31-7 and never really had much control over any facet of the game. There was a solid touchdown run in the first quarter but that was all they could really muster. On defense, the Cardinals didn’t do much to stop Syracuse. I have to assume that Malik Cunningham will be the starting quarterback despite a terrible performance. In fact, the best pass play came from their wide receiver. I am not sure that Louisville has the edge in any single spot against UCF. If they can only muster 7 points against Syracuse, how can they survive against a tougher UCF opponent?
UCF is coming off of a game that I think was more of a warmup for them than anything. They easily beat South Carolina State by 46 points. Even after one quarter, they were up by 21. John Rhys Plumlee had a monster day with five total touchdowns. He had 308 passing yards and added another 100 rushing yards (one of his five touchdowns came from a rush). They were dominant in every facet of the game as they held South Carolina State to just 2-for-16 on third downs and a total of 91 yards. Even against a bad team, that is impressive.
In this game, UCF should be able to get most of what they want through the air. We’ve already seen that Plumlee can be a playmaker when he needs to. When the passing lanes are closed off a bit, he can make something happen on the ground. I don’t have faith that Louisville will be able to stop him. Will it be the slaughter that the first game was? Probably not. I expect Louisville to be a bit more successful than they were in their opener. I’m going to take UCF -5.5. I think they are the better team, are playing at home, and the line is too low.
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