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Boston College Football Opponent Preview: Louisville

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Eagles face a Louisville team with a lot of new faces

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 28 Louisville at Boston College Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Eagles will travel to Kentucky to face the Louisville Cardinals on October 23rd for what will be the 14th all time meeting between these two teams.

Previous Results

Louisville has a narrow 7-6 lead in the series that dates back to 1986. This series spans multiple conferences from when both teams were independents to the Big East, and now the ACC. The Eagles look to draw even after winning 3 of the last 5 matchups against a fresh Cardinals team.

BC defeated the Cards 34-27 an Alumni Stadium last year. Lousiville finished 4-7 in the Covid-shortened 2020 season, with an ACC record of 3-7. ESPN College Football Power Rankings put Louisville at 43 this year with a projected win-loss total of 6.6-5.4.

Coaching

Scott Satterfield returns for his 3rd season (and 2nd full season) at the helm of the Louisville Cardinals with a record for building winning programs. It was Satterfield who took Appalachian State from a 4-8 FCS team to a 10-2 FBS team that won 3 straight Sun Belt Conference championships and 4 straight bowl games. This season will certainly be an indication of whether Satterfield has Louisville on the same trajectory as Appalachian State, and with so much roster turnover it will be a test for the third year coach. Louisville’s roster will hardly resemble the team the Eagles faced last year as they welcome in 24 true freshman along with acquiring and losing multiple players to the transfer portal.

Offense

The Cardinals finished 4th in the ACC but lost their two leading receivers, Dez Fitzpatrick and Tutu Atwell, and their leading rusher, Javian Hawkins. All three are now in the NFL. The Cardinals do return their most important offensive piece and that is quarterback Malik Cunningham who was also the team’s second leading rusher in 2020. While his role was unclear last year, with the departure of Jawon Pass (transferred to Towson), Cunningham’s role in the offense isn’t just secured, he may be the cornerstone in this new look offense.

The offensive line that will be protecting Cunningham should also be fairly strong which may pose a problem for BC. Based upon returning talent, the pass catchers to keep an eye on are Braden Smith, Jordan Watkins and tight end Marshon Ford. Jalen Mitchell and Hassan Hall, based on last season’s carry totals, will be the ones to try and fill the void left by Hawkins. Offensively, Louisville’s biggest issue last season was turning the ball over with 24 turnovers which played right into BC’s hand as the Eagles forced 21, but if the Cardinals solve that issue then this Eagles’ defense will be under a lot of pressure.

Defense

Louisville’s 3rd ranked ACC defense also finds itself in need of replacing some talent with the departure of 6 starters. They do return their leading tackler in linebacker CJ Avery but lose their other two backers Rodjay Burns and Dorian Etheridge.

Monty Montgomery is returning, and with 46 tackles and 33 solo tackles in 2020 he should be able to pick up some of the slack.

Kel’Trel Clark is a name to watch out for in Louisville’s physical secondary. This unit is the strength of this defense. The Cardinals gave up the fewest passing yards and the lowest competition percentage in the ACC last season, but they did not get a lot of pressure from their defensive line, forcing 21 sacks over 11 games. At the very least Phil Jurkovec should have time to pick through this tight secondary.

Forecast

Fitting that this game is being played in Kentucky because it will likely be a race.

It iss strength versus strength when it comes to the Eagles’ passing game versus the Cardinals’ secondary. Both quarterbacks will likely not face a lot of pressure (hoping BC’s D-Line improves and proves me wrong) so it’ll come down to QB decision making. In that scenario Jurkovec has the edge has he only threw 5 INTs last year and Cunningham threw 12. Making any prediction is complicated by the Louisville’s roster turnover but given Satterfield’s resume I wouldn’t count on the Cardinals totally falling off.

This is a 50-50, toss up game but Jurkovec’s ball security ultimately will give BC an edge.

Eagles win 35-28