Despite producing a 42-3 victory against an overmatched opponent, Louisville’s rout of Kent State last week didn’t exactly have coach Bobby Petrino singing the praises of his team. The 18th-ranked Cardinals will try to impress their coach a little bit more Saturday when they host FCS foe Murray State.
“We basically came out and took care of business … (but) offensively, we were sporadic. … I’m really disappointed in the (four) turnovers. … Offense is a side of the ball where all 11 guys have to do their jobs … and we’re just making too many errors right now,” Petrino said after the game. The defense, which surrendered 613 total yards in the Cardinals’ 47-21 loss to Clemson one week earlier, played more to his liking against the Golden Flashes, however, yielding 150 yards overall. Petrino told reporters he liked how many players got to see playing time against Kent State and the same should hold true this week as the Racers enter this contest having dropped three straight. Murray State mustered only five total yards in the first half last week in a 27-7 home setback against Austin Peay, which ended a 21-game skid in the Ohio Valley Conference one week after it snapped the nation’s longest losing streak at 29 games.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network. LINE: NL
ABOUT MURRAY STATE (1-3): Junior defensive end Kenney Wooten leads the OVC with 1.25 sacks per game and is among the FCS leaders with five sacks, while defensive back D‘Montre Wade - a first-team all-conference selection in the preseason - already has three interceptions. Jordon Gandy, the team’s other preseason first-team all-league pick, ranks second behind Demetric Johnson (22) in receptions (21) but is far and away the team’s most dynamic threat in the passing game (team-high marks of 272 receiving yards and four touchdowns). Freshman running back D.J. Penick scored the Racers’ lone touchdown on a throw from Corey Newble last week and paces the team in rushing yards (148) while ranking third with 15 catches.
ABOUT LOUISVILLE (3-1): Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson played only three quarters last weekend and still posted his 18th career performance of at least 300 total yards, moving him past Brian Brohm and into second place on the program’s all-time list. Petrino praised true freshman cornerback Russ Yeast for his tight coverage on the few times Kent State attempted a pass and linebacker Dorian Etheridge, who stepped in to fill a leadership role with senior Stacy Thomas suspended and led the team with nine tackles. Leading receiver Jaylen Smith, who entered last weekend ranked ninth nationally in receiving yards per game (126.3) was sidelined by a wrist injury last weekend, opening the door for sophomore Seth Dawkins, who caught a TD pass while tying a career high with four receptions and setting another with 75 yards receiving.
1. Jackson needs two more rushing TDs to tie Michael Bush (39) for second place on the school’s all-time list and 350 yards of total offense to pass Teddy Bridgewater (9,987) for third place in program history.
2. Louisville gave up 11 passing yards against Kent State, the fewest by an opponent since 1975.
3. After recording 14 tackles for loss last weekend, the Cardinals have amassed 32 for the season - the 14th-highest total in FBS.
PREDICTION: Louisville 59, Murray State 7