Teams accustomed to playing close games against each other get together Saturday when Louisville hosts Virginia in an ACC matchup. The Cardinals prevailed last season when Jaylen Smith made an acrobatic catch in the end zone with 13 seconds left for a 32-25 win, and the schools split one-score games the previous two years that went down to the wire.
Louisville dropped its last contest 42-32 at Wake Forest on Oct. 28 despite another great game by quarterback Lamar Jackson, who had 161 yards rushing, 330 yards passing and accounted for four touchdowns (three rushing). With only three games left, the Cardinals still need another win to become bowl-eligible for the eighth straight season. Conversely, the Cavaliers became bowl-eligible for the first time since 2011 after Kurt Benkert threw a 27-yard scoring pass to Andre Levrone with 1:22 remaining to knock off Georgia Tech 40-36 last weekend. Benkert (59.6 completion percentage, 20 TDs, six interceptions, 2,278 passing yards) threw for 260 yards and three touchdowns against the Yellow Jackets to become the first Cavalier in program history to throw for at least 20 passing TDs in multiple seasons, and he needs eight more scoring throws to match the school record of 28 set by Matt Schaub in 2002.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU. LINE: Louisville -11.5.
ABOUT VIRGINIA (6-3, 3-2 ACC): H-Back Olamide Zaccheaus has 66 catches through nine games - tied for fifth on the school’s all-time single season list - for 683 yards and four touchdowns. Jordan Ellis leads the team in rushing with 708 yards and five scores, while Doni Dowling is a threat through the air with 36 catches for 506 yards and five touchdowns. The leaders for a defense that surrenders just over 25 points a contest are linebacker Micah Kiser, who was named one of 20 semifinalists for the inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year award and safety Quin Blanding, who is the school’s all-time leader in tackles with 445.
ABOUT LOUISVILLE (5-4, 2-4): Jackson, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, continued piling up accolades with his performance against the Demon Deacons; he became the fourth player in school history to rush for over 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons, extended his school records for career rushing yards (3,560) and touchdown runs (46) and became only the fourth player in NCAA history to pass for over 8,000 yards and rush for 3,000 yards in a career. Jackson leads nation in total offense at 426.3 yards per game, leads the ACC in passing yards per game (312), rushing yards per game (114.3), rushing touchdowns (14), points responsible for (196) and ranks second in total points (84). However, he needs help from a defense that surrendered 461 yards passing against Wake Forest and has yielded 236 points in six ACC games - nearly 40 per contest.
1. Louisville leads the all-time series, 3-2. The Cardinals also lead the series 2-1 since joining the ACC in 2014.
2. Kiser is first in the ACC and sixth in the nation with 10.8 tackles per game, while Blanding needs 22 tackles to pass North Carolina’s Dexter Reid (2000-03) for the most career tackles in ACC history by a defensive back.
3. Louisville is one of four offenses in the country averaging 300 yards passing and 200 yards rushing this season.
PREDICTION: Louisville 41, Virginia 35