Louisville is coming off one of the biggest wins for the program in quite some time, and before they host Duke for another big game, the Cardinals will have to play on the road against the Pitt Panthers. We’ll preview the game before going over whether or not you can trust the Cardinals to cover in a tough spot.
It took five weeks and four straight losses, but the Pitt Panthers have made a change at the quarterback position. Once heralded as a draft prospect at the position, Phil Jurkovec will no longer be under center for the Panthers as he will instead be getting work at tight end. This means Penn State transfer Christian Veilleux is the new starter for Patt Narduzzi’s offense, and he certainly has his work cut out for him.
Veilleux is taking over an offense that is 119th in success rate and 121st in EPA. Now, mind you, this was under a quarterback who has the Panthers ranked dead last in completion percentage and 116th in passing yards per game. However, Jurkovec was not all that was wrong with the Panthers' offense, as Pitt is 117th in rushing yards per game, partially because they rank 119th in rushing attempts per game.
While it would be nice for Pitt to establish a run game in Veilleux’s first career start, that could be difficult with the way Louisville’s defense has played. After allowing just 44 rushing yards to Notre Dame last weekend, the Cardinals are now 14th in EPA on rush plays and allow an average of just 3.2 yards per carry.
As a unit, the Cardinals' defense is 31st in defensive success rate and has done an excellent job of getting their opponents off the field on third down. While they have had some struggles with their passing defense, they are coming off a game in which they picked off Sam Hartman three times.
Offensively, Louisville is 14th in EPA, mainly because of a stellar rushing attack led by Jawhar Jordan. In six games, Jordan has 653 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, which has helped open the field for transfer quarterback Jack Plummer.
Following their win over Notre Dame, the Cardinals are (-7.5) point favorites, but based on the situation they’re in scheduling-wise and the Pitt QB change, I’ll be backing the Panthers as home underdogs for my play. Louisville has yet to cover as a road favorite in three games this season, and not only are they coming off a massive win, but in a week, they have another big game, so it’s a brutal sandwich spot for the Cardinals.
The Panthers might be 1-4, but that is primarily due to their offense, as their defense is 32nd in success rate and 43rd in EPA. No team in the country has seen more rushes per game than the Panthers, yet they are still 30th in rush yards allowed per play with an average of 3.4. Coming off a bye week, this is now a well-rested Panthers defense that knows the Cardinals will try to establish the run.
Louisville might be challenged more on offense than expected, which could help Pitt stick around. On top of that, a quarterback change could bring new energy to the Panthers' offense, and as long as Veilleux can produce better than a 50.9% completion percentage like Jurkovec, they should be able to find success through the air.
Pitt Panthers (+7.5)