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Russell Athletic Bowl Preview: Louisville vs. Miami Florida

Louisville (-5) (-110) over Miami Florida

Louisville is a perfect 9-0 ATS on the road versus .666 or better opposition and 20-3 ATS versus ACC opponents (8-0 ATS as favorites) so the technical analysis certainly favors the Cardinals. My math model favors Louisville by nine points and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has something to prove after being snubbed for the Heisman Trophy presentation in New York.

While Louisville’s offense gets most of the attention, the Cardinals take the field with an outstanding defense that is limiting opponents to a mere 12.4 points per game at 4.3 yards per play. Overall, Louisville is 0.8 yards per rush play, 1.0 yards per pass attempt and 0.9 yards per play better than average defensively this season, which is good enough to slow down Miami’s explosive attack.

Louisville Defense vs. Miami Florida Offense:

  • +0.0 yards per rush play advantage
  • -0.9 yards per pass attempt disadvantage
  • +0.1 yards per play advantage overall

Miami’s offense declined after losing star running back Duke Johnson to injury in November as Johnson averaged 6.3 yards per carry this season, which was 1.5 yards per rush play better than average. Meanwhile, Louisville’s offense is 0.8 yards per play better than average (6.6 yards per play against teams that combine to allow 5.8 yards per play), which gives the Cardinals a significant 1.1 yards per play advantage over the Hurricanes’ stop unit. Moreover, Miami’s defense has really struggled on the road where Al Golden’s squad has yielded 32.8 points per game at 4.9 yards per rush play, 8.3 yards per pass attempt and 6.5 yards per play.

Louisville Offense vs. Miami Florida Defense:

  • +0.7 yards per rush play advantage
  • +1.7 yards per pass attempt advantage
  • +1.1 yards per play advantage overall

Not only does Bridgewater have something to prove on the national stage, but Louisville as a team has a purpose as the Cardinals are leaving the AAC for the ACC next season. “When we go play in the ACC next year, I think the bowl will put our stamp on this season, and it will tell the world that we can play with teams in the ACC and we can play with anybody,” Marcus Smith said. Finally, while this game is being played in Orlando, Louisville will have a large contingent on hand as 23 Cardinals’ players are from Florida and the players were excited to get a bowl destination in their home state. “When they found out, it was like ‘We’re playing back at home again, we’re playing basically our teammates and the people that they play in high school,'” said Smith, a Georgia native. “Feeling that with them is gonna be a great one.”

I like Louisville in this game but, unfortunately, I have a fairly strong technical situation that favors the Hurricanes as underdogs. As a result, I only recommend a 2* investment on Louisville at -4 points or less.

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