Ole Miss vs. Louisville College Football Odds, Pick: Why to Bet Cardinals in Week 1 (Monday, September 6)
Justin Casterline/Getty Images. Pictured: Malik Cunningham.
Ole Miss vs. Louisville Odds
The head coaches take center stage in an Ole Miss vs. Louisville showdown on Labor Day, as both teams look to ascend in their respective conferences.
Scott Satterfield had a tough end to the 2020 season, as sources linked the second-year Cardinals coach to open SEC positions. He composed an apology letter to the fanbase owning up to mistakes and asking forgiveness.
Satterfield hit the transfer portal in search of answers on both sides of the ball with the hopes of getting Louisville back to the upper echelon of the ACC.
The expectations in Oxford are to challenging Alabama to win the SEC West this season. Matt Corral put a stranglehold on the quarterback position and produced an abundance of offensive success.
While the offseason did not bring any answers to the defensive front, an offensive boat race was the game plan for Ole Miss. Head coach Lane Kiffin will not travel Monday due to COVID-19, leaving the Rebels without their offensive mastermind.
After an eight-win season for Satterfield in his first as head coach, the Cardinals fell to 4-7 during 2020.
The offense fell to 125th in Havoc Allowed with a tempo that ranked outside the top 100.
The scheme has not changed for Satterfield, the former Sun Belt Conference winner at Appalachian State. Louisville will run a two-tight end set and rush on 60% of snaps, making the offensive line and elusive targets the focus of the offense.
The defense held its own in the passing game, finishing 23rd in Success Rate. Other advanced stats fell to the middle of FBS ranks including Line Yards, Sack Rate and Finishing Drives. The defense runs exclusively in a 3-4 scheme under Bryan Brown, another import from Appalachian State.
The handicap for offense begins with quarterback Malik Cunningham.
The dual-threat quarterback logged 20 touchdowns to 12 interceptions last season, but 20 turnover-worthy plays suggest his game through the air requires improvement.
The great news for Louisville is the return of four offensive linemen with hundreds of snaps logged, with the caveat that a Sack Rate and Line Yards rank must improve. Given the proper time to throw, Cunningham flashes a cannon of an arm.
— Stadium (@Stadium) October 24, 2020
When protection did break down for the offensive line, Cunningham gained over 789 yards on the ground last season. Over half of those yards came on scrambles while logging 29 missed tackles on just 56 attempts.
Louisville will utilize incoming talent from the portal to find other explosive weapons for the offense, but the Rebels’ ability to contain Cunningham is priority No. 1.
Louisville returns just 61%, per TARP, a measurement of not just returning production but what the portal provides to scheme.
A top-50 Havoc rating may be tough to recreate after losing five of the top seven tacklers from a season ago.
Cornerback Kei’trel Clark returns the best coverage grade of all defenders recording seven pass breakups last season. The defensive line is anchored by YaYa Diaby, responsible for 14 quarterback hurries in 2020. The portal brings a former All-American and All-Conference player from Alcorn State in Qwynnterrio Cole.
Remember Alcorn State safety Qwynnterrio Cole for this upcoming #NFLDraft.
He’s a 6-foot-3 safety who hits hard and has great ball-tracking skills. He had 5 INTs in 2019, can play up high or in the box, and offers high special teams upside. pic.twitter.com/ptBSHMArnJ
— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) March 1, 2021
The Rebels finished with a 5-5 record in Lane Kiffin’s first season but will most be remembered for giving an all-time Alabama team a scare. Ole Miss gained 647 yards on the eventual national champions, validating Kiffin as one of the best offensive minds in college football.
Now, offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby will be responsible for play-calling with the head coach being sidelined by COVID-19.
Ole Miss runs exclusively out of the 11 formation with a balanced run-pass ratio. Corral took over starting duties after a battle with explosive runner John Rhys Plumlee.
Corral went on to record 29 touchdowns through the air and 13 interceptions. Accumulating over 3,300 yards through the air was just the tip of utility for the quarterback, as he added another 594 yards on the ground to go along with four rushing touchdowns.
Ole Miss QB Matt Corral told Lane Kiffin he’s returning for the 2021 season, per @JakeThompsonOE
— PFF College (@PFF_College) December 2, 2020
Corral will be assisted by running back Jerrion Ealy, who recorded 11 runs over 15 yards and created 40 missed tackles.
The loss of Elijah Moore will be felt, but there are other explosive targets on the roster. Dontario Drummond will be the next man up with an average depth of target at 12.8 yards in the 2020 season.
Ole Miss did little in the offseason through recruiting or the portal to improve a defensive line or secondary that gave up explosive plays to every team.
The Rebels came close to finishing dead last defensively in Success Rate and Finishing Drives. Havoc and coverage were nonexistent, but 81% of the unit returns from 2020.
Both Chris Partridge and DJ Durkin share coordinator responsibilities with plenty of optimism after allowing just 20 points to Indiana in a bowl victory.
Ole Miss vs. Louisville Matchup Analysis
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Louisville Offense vs. Ole Miss Defense
Ole Miss Offense vs. Louisville Defense
Pace of Play / Other
Ole Miss vs. Louisville Betting Pick
Will either defense be able to generate a stop? This game is perfect for standalone treatment with explosive dual-threat quarterbacks under center. Both Corral and Cunningham lose explosive targets, but Ole Miss has the upper hand in pass protection and Line Yards.
Ultimately, this game comes down to which defense can tackle. Both offenses will move vertically downfield, but the team that can move the chains will dictate pace. Louisville ranked 105th in seconds per play, a stark contrast from Ole Miss at third in the nation.
The advantage from a coaching perspective comes with Brown and the Cardinals defense.
The defensive coordinator played at Ole Miss from 2003-06 and returned to his alma mater as an assistant in 2010. Brown was scooped by Satterfield at Appalachian State, but he remains close to all things Oxford, Mississippi. The alum spends his free time watching Ole Miss football, diagnosing Lebby and Kiffin’s scheme well before this game was scheduled to be played.
Our Action Network projection for this game is closer to a pick’em without Kiffin on the sideline. Lebby has been considered for other head coaching positions, but the knowledge of how to defend the Ole Miss attack may be no better suited than Brown.
Each team has similar ranks in tackling and pass rush from 2020, but the coverage rank produced a significant higher number for Louisville.
If the Cardinals can get stops and dictate pace, an outright win is on the table for the Satterfield apology tour.