Louisville may have watched its chances of winning the ACC Atlantic Division dashed with its first loss two weeks ago, but the coast appears to be clear for the team to keep itself in the running. After a week off to stew about their close encounter, the seventh-ranked Cardinals look to show off their explosive offense yet again Friday when they host Duke in only the second meeting between the schools.
Clemson denied Louisville a shot at putting an early stranglehold on the ACC with a 42-36 victory in Death Valley on Oct. 1, rallying for two fourth-quarter touchdowns and sealing the victory after knocking James Quick out of bounds less than a yard short of a first down on a fourth-down play inside the Tigers 5 with just over 30 seconds remaining. “We understand we have zero room for error, we’ve got to take care of our business week in and week out and then maybe we’ll still have that opportunity,” Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino told reporters.
Louisville, which should be heavily favored to win each of its remaining five conference games, returns home for the first time since Sept. 17, when it crushed then-No. 2 Florida State 63-20 to vault into the top 10. The Blue Devils gutted out a hard-fought 13-6 home victory over Army despite battling through unfavorable conditions brought on by Hurricane Matthew last weekend, holding the nation’s leading rushing attack to 165 yards on the ground – 209 yards below its season average.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN.
WEATHER: The forecast for Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium is calling for partially cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 60s with winds blowing east at 3 mph.
LINE: Louisville opened as a 32-point favorite and that line went up to -35.5 before money on the dog drop the spread to -34.5. The total opened at 71 points and is down to 70.5.
INJURY REPORT: Duke – WR S. Bracey (questionable), WR K. Fuller (questionable), DT E. Cerenord (questionable), C A. Davis (questionable), RB J. Duncan (questionable) / Louisville – WR J. Savage (questionable)
WHAT SHARPS SAY: “Louisville is the highest-scoring team in the nation, but its defense clearly leaves something to be desired after the late collapse against Clemson two weeks ago. Will rest lead to rust? The oddsmakers certainly aren’t giving Duke much of a chance with this whopping 34.5-point spread. Louisville has a favorable remaining schedule with only three of its next seven opponents (including the Blue Devils) with winning records at the moment.” – Covers Expert AAA Sports.
WHAT BOOKS SAY: “Louisville opened as a 33-point favorite against Duke, huge favorite obvisously, and some sharp money actually pushed that number up to -35. So, you know the public avalanche is going to come in on Lousiville like they have every week, so that’s going to be not a great spot of the book needing the big underdog due here.” – Jason Simbal, vice president of risk management for CG Technology in Las Vegas.
ABOUT DUKE (3-3, 0-2 ACC, 3-3 ATS): The deck might be stacked against the Blue Devils as leading rusher Jela Duncan and starting center Austin Davis departed early with leg injuries and did not return against Army, and both are listed questionable for Friday. Despite being limited to 7-of-15 passing for 41 yards because of wind and rain last weekend, Daniel Jones still leads all freshmen nationally in pass completions (132) while ranking second among rookies in passing yards (1,455) and total offensive yards (1,634). Safety Deondre Singleton earned ACC Defensive Back of the Week honors for his efforts against the Black Knights after recording five tackles – one for loss, an interception, a fumble recovery and pass breakup.
ABOUT LOUISVILLE (4-1, 2-1 ACC, 3-1-1 ATS): Heisman Trophy frontrunner Lamar Jackson failed to account for at least five touchdowns for the first time this season against Clemson but still accumulated 457 total yards as the sophomore signal-caller ranks second in the country in total yardage (462.6) and leads the nation in rushing touchdowns (14). Quick is third in the conference with a team-high 443 yards (19.3 yards per catch), although tight end Cole Hikutini has stepped up with 11 receptions for 169 yards and two scores over his last two games, including a career-high seven grabs for 84 yards versus the Tigers. Linebacker James Hearns, who leads the team with 4.5 sacks, is tied for the FBS lead with four forced fumbles.
* Blue Devils are 1-6 ATS in their last seven conference games.
* Blue Devils are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 road games.
* Cardinals are 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven games overall.
* Cardinals are 6-13 ATS in their last 19 Friday games.
* Over is 5-1 in Blue Devils’ last six road games.
* Over is 4-1 in Cardinals’ last five home games.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 59 percent of bets are on Duke with 566 percent of totals bets on the Over.