College Football Picks: North Carolina Tar Heels at Louisville Cardinals

North Carolina Tar Heels at #19 Louisville Cardinals
Saturday, September 15, 2012, 3:30pm Eastern, TV: ABC or ESPN2
Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium – Louisville, Kentucky
Opening Line: Louisville -3 1/2
Current Line: Louisville -3
Opening Total: 50
Current Total: 56
Opening Money Line: Louisville -155 / UNC +135
Current Money Line: Louisville -155 / UNC +135


Louisville hosts North Carolina Saturday. The 2-0 Cardinals are a 3 point favorite against the 1-1 Tar Heels.

The North Carolina Tar Heels and Louisville Cardinals meet for the seventh time ever Saturday in Louisville. The series is tied at 3 games apiece and dates back to 1988. The Tar Heels won 14-7 last year in Chapel Hill, the first part of a home and home. This is only the third meeting in Louisville between the schools. The two schools are known more for their basketball teams but they have had successful football teams recently as well.

North Carolina is coached by Larry Fedora, in his first year. The Tar Heels are 1-1 this season with a 62-0 win over Elon and a 28-27 loss at Wake Forest last week. UNC is averaging 476 yards per game including 276 passing yards and 200 rushing yards per game. The Tar Heels are giving up 298 yards per game, including 245 passing yards and 53 rushing yards per game. UNC is outscoring opponents 44.5-14 this season. The Tar Heels are 1-1 ATS and the total is 0-1 this season.

North Carolina was a 10 point favorite on the road at Wake Forest and the total was 56. The Tar Heels took a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter, but Wake Forest scored 14 straight to take a 21-14 halftime lead. UNC scored 13 straight points to take a 27-21 lead. Wake Forest scored the go-ahead touchdown with 2:09 left. North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner threw an interception with 1:24 left. The Tar Heels forced a punt, but it was downed at the UNC one yard line with 17 seconds left. North Carolina got to their own 40 before time ran out.

The Tar Heels had 428 total yards including 271 passing yards from Renner, who had a touchdown pass and an interception. Wake Forest had 426 total yards including 362 passing yards. The two teams combined for 16 penalties for 142 yards. North Carolina had 2 turnovers and Wake had one.

Renner has completed 37 of 60 passes for 507 yards with 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions so far this season. He is probable with a head injury. Back-up Marquise Williams will start if Renner can’t go. Williams threw six passes in garbage time of the Elon blowout, and has a rushing touchdown. Running back A.J. Blue has 28 carries for 145 yards and 3 touchdowns. Romar Morris has 24 carries, 119 yards and a touchdown. Giovani Bernard has 9 carries for 93 yards with a touchdown run, and he also has a touchdown catch. He is probable with a knee injury after missing the Wake Forest game. Receiver Erik Highsmith has 8 catches for 115 yards. Eric Ebron has 6 catches, 108 yards, and a touchdown. Sean tapley has 6 catches fro 78 yards.

Louisville is 2-0 this season under coach Charlie Strong. The Cardinals have home wins over Kentucky 32-14 and Missouri St 35-7. Louisville is averaging 470.5 yards per game including 295.5 passing yards and 175 rushing yards. The Cardinals are giving up 311 yards per game including 215 passing yards and 96 rushing yards. Louisville is outscoring opponents 33.5-10.5. The Cardinals are 1-1 ATS and the total is 1-0 this season.

Louisville was a 35 point favorite at home against Missouri St, and there was no total. The Cardinals jumped out to an 18-0 lead in the second quarter. Louisville took a page out of Oregon’s play book by successfully going for 2 on their first touchdown. The Bears scored a touchdown with 51 seconds left in the second to make the score 18-7 at halftime. The Cardinals scored 17 points in the second half to make the final 35-7.

The Cardinals held the Bears to 249 total yards including 150 passing yards. Louisville rolled up 475 total yards including 344 passing yards from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who threw 2 touchdown passes and no picks. Missouri St had 5 penalties for 32 yards and 2 turnovers. Louisville had 9 penalties for 87 yards and one turnover.

Bridgewater has completed 81.7% of his passes for 576 yards with two touchdowns, and no interceptions so far this season. Running back Senorise Perry had 35 carries for 180 yards with 2 touchdowns, and 5 catches for 51 yards. Jeremy Wright has 32 carries for 148 yards with 3 touchdowns, along with 3 catches for 33 yards. Five Cardinal receivers have at least six catches this season, including Andrell Smith, Damien Copeland, DeVante Parker, Nate Nord, and Eli Rogers.

North Carolina is 4-1 ATS after a straight up loss, 5-2 after failing to cover, 3-7 against teams with winning records, 1-4 after allowing less than 100 rushing yards, in road games, and against Big East teams,  and in road games against teams with winning home records.

Louisville is 27-12 straight up in non-conference games since 2005. The Cardinals are 12-2 ATS against ACC teams, 4-1 after failing to cover, 8-2 after gaining more than 450 total yards, 4-1 after allowing less than 20 points, 8-3 overall, 5-2 after allowing 100 rushing yards or less, and on fieldturf, 34-15 in non-conference games, and 5-12 at home.

UNC’s Fedora and Louisville’s Strong were assistants together on Ron Zook’s 2003 Florida team. Louisville is 2-0 this season, but hasn’t really played anyone except a mediocre Kentucky team. This should be a close game as both teams have great running games. I like Louisville to pull it out at the end.

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