After losing their last two games, the Virginia Cavaliers got back on track last week in a significant way. Virginia rolled past the Duke Blue Devils 48-14 at Scott Stadium, which improved their ACC record to 3-1 on the season. Now, the Cavaliers will hope to continue the success on the road this weekend and become bowl eligible when they play the Louisville Cardinals.
Through their first seven games of the season, the Cardinals (4-3, 2-2 ACC) have had their ups and downs. Louisville will try to rebound this week from its 45-10 loss to the Clemson Tigers.
Louisville leads the all-time series against Virginia 4-3. However, the Cavaliers came away with the 27-3 victory over the Cardinals in their meeting last season.
Virginia at Louisville
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 26 at 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: ACC Network
Spread: Virginia -3.5
When Virginia Has the Ball
After struggling to get anything going against the Miami Hurricanes, the Cavaliers put up 48 points against Duke, although the Devils held Virginia to 307 yards of offense. Leading the way for the Cavs was quarterback Bryce Perkins, who threw for 141 yards and rushed for 62 and three touchdowns in the win.
It will be a considerable challenge for the Cardinals defense to slow down Perkins, as they're ranked 111th in the nation in yards allowed per game. Not only does Louisville have to worry about Perkins, but it also will need to be concerned about Virginia's talented receivers, Joe Reed and Hasise DuBois.
When Louisville Has the Ball
When the season began, the Cardinals had three scholarship quarterbacks, led by starter Jawon Pass. But since then, the team's depth at quarterback has taken a significant hit.
Pass is out for the season due to a toe injury. He initially injured the toe in Louisville's opener against Notre Dame, but he decided to play through it. Then Pass later reaggravated the same toe and has been out ever since.
Since Pass' injury, the Cardinals have opted to go with a two-quarterback system with redshirt freshman Micale Cunningham and true freshman Evan Conley. The two have been reliable for the Cardinals, and according to head coach Scott Satterfield, the team will continue to use both quarterbacks.
"We have needed both in our wins this year, so I would suspect we will need both throughout the rest of the season," Satterfield said earlier this week.
Whoever is behind center will have his hands full on Saturday. Virginia is ranked eighth nationally in total defense, allowing 270.3 yards per game. The Cavaliers are also 14th in rushing defense (96 ypg), so that could make running back Javian Hawkins' job a little tougher.
Something will have to give on Saturday between the Virginia defense and the Louisville offense. While the Cavaliers have been stout stopping the run this year, the Cardinals are averaging 216.9 yards on the ground, which is 24th in the FBS.
Virginia will likely try to force the quarterback pair to beat them through the air. The Cavaliers have 28 sacks this season, which is the fourth most in the nation. Meanwhile, the Cardinals are allowing 2.86 sacks per game, which is among the most in the FBS.
If Louisville cannot run the ball, it is hard to see the Cardinals offense generating a ton of points. Several three and outs by the offense will make life difficult for the Louisville defense.
Prediction: Virginia 27, Louisville 17
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.