College Football Odds & Picks for Louisville vs. Duke: Will the Cardinals Expose Blue Devils?

College Football Odds & Picks for Louisville vs. Duke: Will the Cardinals Expose Blue Devils? article feature image

Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Malik Cunningham.

  • Louisville take on Duke in Thursday night's lone college football matchup.
  • The Cardinals enter the game as 20-point favorites, according to updated odds.
  • Anthony Dabbundo explains why there's betting value on the over/under below.

Louisville vs. Duke Odds

Thursday, Nov. 18
7:30 p.m. ET
Louisville Odds
-115o / -105u
Duke Odds
-115o / -105u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Duke's 45-17 loss to Virginia Tech last week ended any chance of a bowl game for the Blue Devils after they dropped six consecutive games in ACC play following a 3-1 record in the nonconference portion of their schedule.

The Blue Devils will look to play spoiler at home in their final two games against teams chasing bowl eligibility, starting with a home game against Louisville on Thursday night.

The Cardinals sit at 5-5 following a blowout win over Syracuse and need one more win to become bowl eligible.

Louisville's offense came to life with explosive plays in the win with 35 first-half points and the first 40+ point showing since a last-minute win over UCF in September.

The Cardinals will face even less resistance against a porous Duke defense this week, but Duke should also be able to post some effective drives and points with its rushing attack.

Louisville Cardinals

Cardinals to Lean on Big Plays

The Cardinals went up against Syracuse — one of the best big-play defenses in the country last weekend — and still broke off a ton of explosive plays en route to 35 first-half points.

The Cardinals have had the Orange's number for years offensively, but the ability to break explosive runs off the tackles and hit chunk plays through the air is an encouraging sign for an offense that has sputtered at various points of the season.

Louisville ranks 36th in Rushing Success Rate and 47th in Passing Success Rate. It's a pretty balanced attack that is more based around explosiveness than long, methodical drives.

Quarterback Malik Cunningham has been up-and-down as a passer in his time at Louisville, but there's no denying his rushing ability or speed in the open field. Facing a Duke defense that has been a nightmare in the ACC, the Cardinals will have few issues moving the chains or breaking off big runs from everywhere on the field.

Given Duke's poor tackling numbers, that's an extremely troubling sign against a Louisville offense that has speed all over the field and can challenge a weak Duke secondary and stretch it both vertically and horizontally.

Louisville is 34th in big plays and ninth in rushing explosiveness and should cruise to 40 points yet again on Thursday night.

Louisville Defense Coming Off Solid Performance

Louisville's defense dominated the line of scrimmage and held one of the nation's best running backs in check last week against the Orange.

Syracuse Running back Sean Tucker was held to a season-low in rushing yards, but the Cardinals did catch a break in that multiple offensive linemen were out with injury.

The Cardinals keyed in on the one-dimensional Orange run game, and once Louisville built a lead, Syracuse barely moved the ball up and down the field.

Despite a solid performance last week, though, the Cardinals defense is still pretty mediocre and very prone to allowing big plays. Louisville ranks 80th in Rushing Success Rate and 96th in Defensive Line Yards.

Similar to how Duke moved the line against Virginia Tech last week, the Blue Devils should be able to run on Louisville and stay in front of the chains for most of the game.

The Cardinals produce solid Havoc numbers but are 114th in explosiveness allowed, so Duke should be able to have plenty of boom-or-bust offense in this game. And if they're down late, expect the Blue Devils to be able to tack on plenty of points late against a Cardinals defense that's a bit overinflated after last week.

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Duke Blue Devils

Can Duke's Offense Score?

Duke's offense posted back-to-back puzzling performances against Virginia and Wake Forest when the Blue Devils totaled just seven total points across those two games.

There were some fluky turnovers, special teams miscues and other plays offensively that contributed to the lack of scoring, but the Duke offense has rebounded back to the standard in the last couple of games.

The Blue Devils play at a fast pace offensively. They run the ball a lot and are quite successful at it. Given the Louisville defense's mediocre numbers against the run, I'm expecting Duke to be able to move the ball enough in this game to score some points. Duke might even find some big plays against a Louisville defense that is prone to allowing explosiveness.

It's as good of a matchup in the ACC as you'll find for the Duke offense, and it should be able to string together a few drives that lead to points, even if it can't keep up with Louisville overall.

Blue Devils Defense Must Step Up

Duke's defense is among the worst units in all of FBS football and certainly one of the few worst in Power Five, alongside Kansas.

Duke can't stop the run (104th in Success Rate Allowed), the pass (103rd in Success Rate Allowed) or the big play (124th). The Blue Devils have poor grades in coverage and in tackling, ranking in the bottom 25 of both.

The floor has really fallen out on this Duke team this season because of the defense, which has allowed at least 45 points each of the last four weeks. The opponents in those games include Wake Forest, Virginia, North Carolina and Virginia Tech.

Louisville's offense might not be as good or consistent as UNC or Wake, but the Cardinals have plenty of ability to put up quick points.

When the Cardinals get past the 40, Duke has no way to produce Havoc, no way to get to the quarterback and no way to stop touchdowns from being scored. The Blue Devils have the 10th-worst defense in the country in terms of Finishing Drives.

Louisville vs. Duke Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Louisville and Duke match up statistically:

Louisville Offense vs. Duke Defense
Rush Success36104
Line Yards5090
Pass Success47103
Pass Blocking**1292
Big Play34124
Finishing Drives43120
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Duke Offense vs. Louisville Defense
Rush Success6880
Line Yards4596
Pass Success6234
Pass Blocking**83103
Big Play101114
Finishing Drives118102
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling53114
Middle 837118
SP+ Special Teams53109
Plays per Minute958
Rush Rate58.% (47)58.6% (44)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.

Louisville vs. Duke Betting Pick

Both offenses have significant advantages over the other, as the Duke defense has looked like it's quit on the season for weeks.

Louisville found a blueprint that was extremely effective against Syracuse by running outside the tackles, and Duke is even worse at tackling and preventing big runs than the Orange. Expect Louisville to put up easy points through explosive plays.

On the other side, Duke can run on Louisville like it did against Virginia Tech, and the Louisville defense is also susceptible to allowing explosive plays. Duke's fast-paced offense will either score quickly or give the ball back to Louisville to score quickly.

This line opened at 58.5 and quickly jumped up to 59.5 and then 60. Sixty is as high as I'd go before I'd no longer recommend a play on the over.

Given the matchup edges for the offenses, this Thursday night game should feature plenty of offense and plenty of points

Pick: Over 60

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