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Belk Bowl Betting Preview & Pick: Louisville vs. Georgia

2014-belk-bowl

While Louisville has been plagued with quarterback injuries all season, the Cardinals’ success has been predicated upon an outstanding defense.  Indeed, Louisville is allowing just 20.5 points per game on 294 total yards at 4.6 yards per play and 14.3 yards per point.  Even more eye-opening is the fact that the Cardinals are 4-2 SU and 5-1 ATS on the road this season where they are limiting opponents to a mere 17.0 points per game on 273 total yards at 4.3 yards per play and 16.1 yards per point.

Overall, Louisville is 1.0 yards per rush attempt, 0.7 yards per pass attempt and 0.8 yards per play better than average defensively in 2014.  I have been extremely impressed all season with the Cardinals’ secondary, which is led by 1st Team ACC sophomore Gerod Holliman.  Holliman tied the NCAA record with fourteen interceptions this season!  The Cardinals’ front seven has also played exceptionally well behind the leadership of linebackers Lorenzo Mauldin and Keith Kelsey.  Mauldin leads the team with 13 total tasckles for a loss and earned 1st Team ACC honors, while Kelsey leads Louisville with 78 tackles on the year.

The Cardinals should have success slowing down a potent Georgia attack that is averaging 41.7 points per game on 455 total yards at 6.8 yards per play and 10.9 yards per point.  Incidentally, the Bulldogs’ 455 total yards average this season is the lowest amount garnered by coach Mark Richt’s squad since 2011.  Overall, Georgia is 1.8 yards per rush play, 0.9 yards per pass play and 1.2 yards per play better than average offensively, which gives the Bulldogs a 0.4 yards per play advantage over Louisville’s stop unit.

As I stated in the opening paragraph, Louisville has been decimated by injuries to the quarterback position as starter Will Gardner has been lost for the year, while backup Reggie Bonnafon was injured in the Cardinals’ season finale.  Redshirt freshman Kyle Bolin took the field against Kentucky and led the Cardinals to a come-from-behind 44-40 win over the Wildcats.  Regardless of who plays in the Belk Bowl, the return of wide receiver DeVante Parker has sparked Louisville’s attack.

After missing the first seven games of the 2014-2015 campaign, Parker finished the season strong by compiling 100 or more yards in four of the last five games and leads the Cardinals with 735 yards at 21.0 yards per reception.  With Parker on the field to close out the regular season, the Cardinals scored thirty or more points in each of their last five games, including compiling 44 points against Kentucky and 38 points against a very good Boston College stop unit.

Louisville is averaging 32.6 points per game on 396 total yards at 5.5 yards per play and 12.2 yards per point against teams that would combine to allow 5.3 yards per play and 13.7 yards per point to mediocre offensive squads.  Regardless of who has been behind center, the Cardinals’ aerial attack has been very effective, averaging 7.7 yards per pass play against a group of secondaries that would combine to allow just 6.8 yards per pass attempt.

From a technical standpoint, Louisville is a perfect 7-0 ATS on the road versus teams with a winning record and 6-0 ATS following one or more consecutive losses. Pre-New Year’s Day bowl favorites of six or more points off an upset loss are a horrible 9-24-4 ATS, including 1-10-2 ATS when matched up against an opponent of an ATS loss of four or more points. Meanwhile, Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino is a perfect 20-0 SU versus an opponent off a loss, including 31-3 SU and 23-11 ATS when his team takes the field following a win. Petrino is also 44-6 SU and 31-16-1 ATS versus an opponent off a loss in his coaching career, including 19-4 ATS when laying less than thirteen points.

With the Cardinals standing at 4-1 ATS in their last five bowl games and 4-1 ATS in their last five games against SEC opposition, grab the generous points in the Belk Bowl and invest with confidence.