Louisville coach Bobby Petrino has made a name for himself over the years by guiding some of the more explosive passing games in college football, so he was among the many surprised last weekend when his team leaned on the running game to get a much-needed win. The Cardinals attempt to climb back to .500 in ACC action Saturday when they visit Wake Forest.
“You know how much I like to throw the ball. … (but) I thought the best way to win this game is to really run the ball at them, try to wear them out … so we called a lot of run plays. A lot more than I really like to,” Petrino said after Louisville ran 44 times for 293 yards en route to a 31-28 victory at Florida State. Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson spearheaded the offensive attack yet again, running for 178 yards while throwing for 156 more for his eighth straight game with at least 300 yards of total offense. The Demon Deacons welcomed back a pair of their key offensive performers in quarterback John Wolford and running back Cade Carney last weekend, but their return was not enough in a 38-24 setback at Georgia Tech. Wake Forest has lost three straight after winning its first four games and dropped six of its last seven in conference play, beginning with last season’s 44-12 loss at Louisville.
TV: 12:20 p.m. ET, ACC Network. LINE: Louisville -3.
ABOUT LOUISVILLE (5-3, 2-3 ACC): Jackson (11,260) became only the fourth player in conference history to surpass 11,000 yards of total offense in his career, recording his 18th career 100-yard rushing effort as well as running for a score for the eighth straight game. Reggie Bonnafon added 74 yards on the ground and is averaging 6.6 yards per attempt on 28 carries over his last two contests, while freshman Dae Williams became the first Cardinal running back since 2010 to run for a touchdown in his first game with a carry. Jaylen Smith, who has already posted three 100-yard receiving efforts, led Louisville with 49 yards receiving and has tallied at least five catches in each of his five contests this season.
ABOUT WAKE FOREST (4-3, 1-3): Wolford, who missed the team’s 28-14 loss on Oct. 7 at Clemson with a left shoulder injury, threw for 252 yards versus Georgia Tech - becoming one of only three quarterbacks in school history to pass for at least 1,000 yards in four seasons - and totaled three touchdowns. Greg Dortch leads all FBS freshmen with 79.3 receiving yards per game after finishing with 125 against the Yellow Jackets; he also ranks second among first-year players with 43 catches - 27 more than any other Demon Deacon - and stands 11th among all players in all-purpose yards per game (153.4). Defensive end Duke Ejiofor doubled his season total with a career-high tying three sacks versus Georgia Tech; his six sacks on the season rank second in the ACC.
1. Louisville fell behind 12-0 before erupting for the final 44 points in last season’s meeting, outscoring the Demon Deacons 34-0 in the fourth quarter.
2. Dortch is only nine receptions away from tying teammate Cam Serigne’s school freshman record for catches in a season.
3. The Cardinals have won all four games in this series, although they managed only a 20-19 victory in the program’s only visit to Winston-Salem in 2015.
PREDICTION: Louisville 34, Wake Forest 27