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Matchup: Cincinnati Bearcats @ Louisville Cardinals
Date: Friday, October 15th, 8:00 ET
Location: Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, KY
Game Line: Cincinnati -2.5
The 3-2 Louisville Cardinals and the 2-3 Cincinnati Bearcats kick off their conference slates this Friday night when the two meet in Louisville. First-year HC Charlie Strong has breathed some life into a Cardinals program that was moribund under former HC Steve Kragthorpe. Under Strong, Louisville’s defense is much improved over the sieve it was in 2009, currently allowing 329 YPG. The Cardinals offense has also improved on the offensive side of the ball, racking up 461.4 YPG thus far this season. Last week against Memphis, the Cardinals put together their most dominant performance yet in a 56-0 rout of the Tigers. Louisville’s defense held Memphis to just 223 total yards and the Tigers only averaged a paltry 3.5 yards per play on the day. Louisville’s offense was simply electric and torched the Tigers for 574 yards while averaging over 10 yards per play. Leading the way was QB Adam Froman, who completed 12 of 16 passes for 235 yards and four touchdowns. On the ground, RB Bilal Powell carried the ball 18 times for 204 yards and two touchdowns. As for the Bearcats, new HC Butch Jones had some big shoes to fill when former coach Brian Kelly left for Notre Dame and his schedule didn’t do him any favors. Road losses to North Carolina State and Fresno State and a home loss to mighty Oklahoma have dipped the program under .500 for the first time in recent memory, but Jones has shown signs that he is getting his feet under him. Last week against Miami (OH), the Bearcats put together their most complete game thus far in a 45-3 romp of the Redhawks. The Bearcats put up over 600 total yards of offense and averaged over 9 yards per play, while the defense held Miami (OH) to just 269 total yards and 4 yards per play. The backfield combo of QB Zach Collaros and RB Isaiah Pead will need to come up big for the Bearcats if they hope to score a Big East road win.
Free College Football Picks: Louisville +2.5
Prediction: Louisville 27 Cincinnati 20