Louisville Cardinals (5-5) @ Duke Blue Devils (3-7) – Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, North Carolina
Friday 19th November 12.30am (UK)
Louisville 20 point favourites at the time of writing
Thursday night (Friday morning) football this week kicks off with a cross-division game in the ACC with Louisville travelling to Durham to face off against Duke.
Full 10 Yards CFB favourite Malik Cunningham will be looking to lead the Cardinals to a second consecutive win against the basement dwelling Blue Devils, which could be the highlight for us in what is a fairly mediocre offering to get the footballing weekend kicked off.
Cunningham is a fun watch with trills just as likely as spills when he’s at the controls for the Cardinals.
Cunningham is a player who falls squarely into the category that Keith and I were discussing on this week’s podcast (available on all good podcast providers); he’s a fun, college quarterback. A guy you can root for, a guy whose team’s fans get behind a love and a player who can make some plays and get the stadium excited.
However, they’ll never play on a Sunday.
Cunningham is a dual-threat who actually has more rushing scores than passing touchdowns this season, 13 to 16, whilst setting career highs in rushing yards and attempts, whilst suffering a dip in yards per attempt, completion percentage and passer rating.
A Redshirt Junior with NFL aspirations shouldn’t be taking dips in these categories in his third year starting, he makes wow throws, he can pull off big runs but he’s imperfect. However, if we just accept him for what he is and use this game for what it should be – Thursday night entertainment – Then he’s absolutely dynamite.
Outside of Cunningham, Cardinals worth taking note of are Adonis Boone, a Junior at right guard – Boone is a Junior with NFL size and measureables, as well as tackle experience. He feels like the kind of player who will get picked up on day three of the draft and a solid rotational piece in the league.
And they also have a couple of nice young skill position guys in Jordan Watkins and Jalen Mitchell at wide receiver and running back and are Freshman and Redshirt Freshman, respectively.
Jordan Watkins leads the team in receiving yards with 489 and when taking Cunningham out of the equation Mitchell is Louisville’s leading rusher with 633 yards on the ground. Mitchell has also added another 83 receiving yards, which whilst that’s nothing to write home about, does make him the most productive player on this offense outside of their QB.
Not bad for a (Redshirt Freshman) running back… As a former Louisville player, sort of said.
On the other side of this clash, the Duke Blue Devils probably just want to get this football season over and done with, after all, the college basketball season is underway and Duke is 4-0 and has already beaten Kentucky in their season opener… I’m sure they’d rather me write about that than their ailing football programme.
Although, once upon a time, Duke’s football programme was 3-1 and had made a strong start to the season and after a win against another historic basketball school, Kansas, back in September, they haven’t won again. And to compound the misery, they’ve been blown out in all but one of those games.
This has left Duke at the bottom of the ACC, 0-6 in conference play. The fans don’t seem to want to fill up Wallace Wade Stadium either, with the highest attendance this year being a touch over 20,000, which is around half of the stadium, although this isn’t out of the ordinary for this team.
Speaking of the team, it really lacks any sign of star power outside of perhaps Mataeo Durant, the Senior running back who has ticked over 1,000 yards this season now.
There is no Victor Dimukeje, or Chris Rumph or even Noah Gray, nobody to really pin your hopes on and nobody who you can truly see stepping up to the next level as things stand.
The 2018 Independence bowl and Daniel “Danny Dimes” Jones seems a long, long time ago.
So I guess after that fairly damning review of Duke, I can only say that the 20 point handicap is about right…
This won’t be one for the college football newbie and it certainly won’t be one for NFL scouts but do you know what? It might be a good amount of fun – The under/over is 60.5 for a reason!
Follow Lee on Twitter – @Wakefield90