College Football Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: Louisville vs. Western Kentucky (Saturday, Sept. 12)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Dayna Kinnaird (57).
- Western Kentucky will attempt to avenge last season’s 38-21 to Louisville as the teams meet Saturday for a 2020 rematch at Cardinal Stadium.
- The Hilltoppers boast a significant edge in offensive and defensive line play -- especially following the departure of Mekhi Becton from Louisville -- but the Cardinals hold a substantial edge at the skill positions.
- Read BJ Cunningham's full betting guide with odds, analysis and picks for Western Kentucky vs. Louisville below.
Louisville vs. Western Kentucky Odds
|Louisville Odds||-12.5 [BET NOW]|
|Western Kentucky Odds||+12.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-500/+360 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||58.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET|
Western Kentucky heads to Louisville on Saturday hoping to avenge last year’s 38-21 home loss. The Hilltoppers are pegged as one of the favorites in Conference USA, while Louisville is picked to finish in the middle of the pack in the ACC.
Western Kentucky ended 2019 on a five-game winning streak, and the Hilltoppers could be extremely competitive at Cardinal Stadium on Saturday.
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Scott Satterfield changed the culture in Louisville last season by winning eight games when most pundits projected the Cardinals to finish below .500. Satterfield’s offense was perhaps the most explosive in all of college football, ranking ninth in rushing explosiveness and first in passing explosiveness.
Micale Cunningham (great last name) is a legit dual-threat quarterback and was one of the most efficient passers in the country last season, averaging 11.2 yards per attempt. However, he did only complete 62.4% of his passes, so he’ll need to improve that number in order to buoy Louisville’s consistency in 2020.
The Cardinals also bring back their freshman phenom running back Javian Hawkins who ran for 1,525 yards last season. Cunningham and Hawkins are among Louisville’s top contributors for an offense that returns 78% of its production from last season.
However, offensive line play will likely be Louisville’s Achilles heel. The Cardinals have to fill a gaping hole on the left side of the line after Mekhi Becton’s ascension to the NFL ranks. Louisville has some capable replacements waiting in the wings, but depth will be an issue for the Cardinals this year.
The Cardinals defense rivals its offensive line among the team’s top concerns this season.
Louisville was horrible against the run in 2019, ranking 101st in defensive rushing success and 115th in defensive rushing explosiveness. In fact, the Cardinals allowed 6.32 yards per carry over their final seven games in 2019. — including ceding a whopping 517 rushing yards in a loss to arch-rival Kentucky to close out the regular season.
Unfortunately for Louisville fans, things likely wont get much better this season. The Cardinals return only one starter on their defensive line.
Louisville returns most of its starters at the linebacker position and in the secondary, but those units must drastically improve their performances. The Cardinals ranked 90th in passing explosiveness and 86th in havoc, so it’s hard to imagine that they’ll be able to stop Western Kentucky’s offense on Saturday night.
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
The Hilltoppers’ strength entering 2020 will be at offensive line, where they return four starters and 114 career starts. Western Kentucky ranked 20th in power success in 2019 and retains Gaej Walker for his second season. Walker toted the ball for 5.0 yards per carry last season and should have no trouble running the ball at will against Louisville’s pathetic run defense.
The Hilltoppers will have a change at the quarterback position, as Steve Duncan entered the transfer portal in April. Former Maryland starter Tyrrell Pigrome joined the team as a graduate transfer and has been named the starter for Saturday night. Pigrome struggled in his time as a Terrapin, but he possesses a legit dual-threat skillset and should be a productive rushing option if Western Kentucky struggles through the air.
The Hilltoppers had the best defense in Conference USA last year and return 89% of their defensive production in 2020. Among Western Kentucky’s key returning players is Conference USA defensive player of the year DeAngelo Malone, who recorded 11.5 sacks and 21 tackles for loss last season.
The defense doesn’t have a glaring weak spot: Western Kentucky ranked 34th in defensive passing success and 32nd in defensive rushing success in 2019. The Hilltoppers also ranked 19th in havoc, so they are always a threat for big play.
But what really distinguishes Western Kentucky’s defense is its ability to rise to the occasion under duress. The Hilltoppers ranked among the top 20 defenses in the country on third down and in the red zone last year.
The Cardinals offense is no joke, but I think Western Kentucky’s experienced defensive unit will be able to slow them down.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Louisville opened as an 11.5-point favorite and was quickly bet up -12.5. The Cardinals are currently receiving 65% of the spread dollars and 83% of the spread tickets.
However, I think their defense has too many holes to warrant being double-digit favorites on Saturday night. The Hilltoppers should be able to run the ball at will, which has the added effect of keeping Louisville’s explosive offense on the sidelines.
I only have Louisville as slight favorites against the Hilltoppers, so I think there is plenty of value on Western Kentucky +12.5 (FanDuel). I would play it all the way down to +7.
Pick: Western Kentucky +12.5 (play down to +7)