Nunnsense | 2020 Game By Game Predictions

Louisville vs Notre Dame-2

Usually, I post my annual game by game predictions on the first of August but this year is far from usual. I had the original schedule almost finished when the rumblings of a conference only schedule began. Even though the new schedule has been released, there is still a possibility that no games are played this fall. I do feel pretty confident as it seems the ACC is determined to play this fall so let’s go-ahead and make some predictions.

When I first saw the schedule, I guessed that Louisville would go 8-3 with losses to Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and Miami. But as I dove more into the opposing teams, I felt Louisville could do better. I believe in this team and I am very sure the defense will take a huge step forward – Maybe not top 25 but top 50ish.  I know many of you believe that Louisville can beat Notre Dame but I just don’t see it. Right now, I think Louisville loses two games but not sure where the other loss comes from. So here is how I see it as of now…

Saturday, Sept 12th  vs WKU

This is a great game for the Cards to knock the rust off. Tyson Helton, the reigning C-USA Coach of the Year, is bringing in a veteran team with 17 seniors who should be in starting roles. DeAngelo Malone returns as the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year as he helped the defense who finished in the top 20 nationally in third-down defense. They also return their top six tacklers from the 2019 defense that finished 22nd in the nation in scoring defense (20.1 ppg). On offense, the ‘Tops return 4 of their offensive lineman – But the problem is at QB. They expected starter, Steven Duncan, entered the transfer portal in April. Louisville wins 42 – 10. Win probability 89.5%

Saturday, Sept 19th vs Miami

This is one game I’m glad is a home game. Miami will be moving on from a pro-style offense, that didn’t work out as well as hoped last year, to a spread offense. Not sure how long that takes to adjust but what helps that move faster is the arrival of quarterback D’Eriq King, who transferred to Miami from the Houston Cougars. Louisville’s offensive line will get an early season test because Miami might have the single best pass-rush tandem in the country with Gregory Rousseau (15.5 sacks as a freshman) and Temple transfer, Quincy Roche, who had 13 sacks last season. If Louisville’s offensive line can hold those two at bay, Cunningham and crew could have a big day because the rest of Miami’s defense isn’t spectacular. Louisville wins 35 – 21. Win probability 83%

Saturday, Sept 26th at Pitt

This is the game everyone has marked as the possible upset game. I am not everyone. I believe coach Satterfield will have our guys ready to roll. I’m not saying it won’t be a tough game but I’m not willing to say Louisville blows them out either. Head coach, Pat Narduzzi, is a defensive minded coach and he has a very good defense at Pitt. Pitt led the nation in sacks, finished ninth in tackles for a loss (7.9), 11th in pass efficiency rating (112.93), 12th in rushing yards allowed (108.5) and 15th in total yards allowed (312.9) last season. But that defense took a blow when defensive lineman Jaylen Twyman announced he would sit out the season and prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft (Twyman says he did not make the decision because of the virus. Instead, he states the need to be with his family). The preseason All American led the team in sacks last year with 10.5. Pitt’s offense is suspect and this could be the game where the much maligned Louisville defense turns the corner and proves to everyone just how talented they really are. I’m not looking for a shootout here. Louisville wins 21-17. Win probability 72.2%

Friday, October 9th at Georgia Tech

The last time the Cards faced GT was as absolute train wreck. It’s time for payback. Last season GT went 3-9 (2-6 in ACC) as they tried to implement a spread attack with players built for a triple-option offense. GT will take some shots downfield so the Cards secondary needs to be ready. I believe they will hit on a couple of those shots making this game closer than it should be. Louisville just has to maintain poise if Tech does connect on a couple of big plays and they will be victorious. Tech’s defense isn’t terrible. They ranked 36th in passing yards allowed in 2019. The Yellow Jackets return more than 90 percent of their tackles, tackles for loss, sacks and every one of their takeaways for 2020. Louisville win 31-24. Win probability 69.5%

Saturday, October 17th at Notre Dame

This is a tough one. Notre Dame could be a top five team when Louisville rolls into South Bend. QB Ian Book didn’t look as good as advertised the he visited Louisville to open the 2019 season. But he continually improved all season and is one of the top three QB’s in the ACC. The Irish offense averaged 431 yards and 37 points per game last season. To help Book this year, he will have the luxury of having six returning regulars along the offensive line. Notre Dame could average closer to 40 points per game in 2020. Their defense isn’t too shabby either. They return two of the top three linebackers. Notre Dame does lose two top safeties and a corner but they have plenty of talent to step in. If Louisville is to pull off the upset, Micale os going to have to be laser sharp in the passing game and Satterfield is going to have to call for more deep throws. Louisville loses 42-21. Win probability 35%

Saturday, Oct 24th vs Florida State

I want more than anything for Cardinal Stadium to be filled to capacity for this game (I know it can’t happen). It’s time for Louisville to take care of some business. I believe Louisville comes into this game hungry and ready to do some work. Mike Norvell takes over as coach and I was a fan of his until he went to FSU and lied to his team. But besides that, he can coach. His team at Memphis averaged over 40 points per game. He is installing that fast paced offense at FSU in hopes of similar results. But Norvell’s offense is the fourth different system taught to the Seminoles’ offensive players in four years. By the fourth different offensive coordinator. And for some players, their fourth different position coach. That’s not a recipe for success. FSU’s biggest problem on offense the past three seasons has been awful O-line play — only four schools in the country surrendered more sacks than the Seminoles (48) last season — and there will be questions up front again with two new starting tackles. On defense, the ‘Noles have plenty of talent but last year they ranked 90th in total defense and 119th in passing defense. While they may improve, I don’t see a top 25 defense. Louisville wins 45 – 38. Win probability 65.1%

Saturday, Oct 31st, vs Virginia Tech

Happy Halloween! To me, this is the game that makes the season. I think this is going to be an absolute battle. I’m just glad it’s at home. I could easily see this game as a loss. The Hokies return eight starters on defense and eight on offense from a 2019 team that went 8-5 overall, 5-3 in ACC. The defense took a blow when cornerback Caleb Farley opted out because of COVID-19 concerns and defensive end TyJuan Garbutt may not be with the team all season as he deals with a family issue. On the offensive line, they return seven players who started at least three games and they return five starters – all underclassmen last year –  including All-ACC performers tackle Christian Darrisaw and guard Lecitus Smith. Louisville wins 31 – 27. Win probability 58.1%

Saturday, Nov 7th at Virginia

Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall has had this team improving every year. I really thought they could be an annual top level ACC team under Bronco. They did win the coastal division last year and made it to the Orange Bowl, but I think that is where they peaked. I see a huge step back this year. They lost star quarterback Bryce Perkins and that’s all I really need to know about them. He is the Virginia equivalent of Louisville’s Lamar Jackson. The Cavaliers return 15 players who started at least one game on a defense that gave up 136 rushing yards to Hawkins and 122 receiving yards to Atwell last year.  Louisville wins 41 – 24. Win probability 78.4%

Friday, Nov 20th vs Syracuse

In my opinion, this is the greatest gift the schedule change gave to Louisville. Not having to go play in the Carrier Dome makes this game so much better. Louisville wins either way but Louisville has played some unexplainable poor games up there. Last year, Syracuse scored 27 points or fewer seven times. But they dropped 34 at Louisville. With the Louisville defense improving, I don’t see 34 again this year. Syracuse defense loses a lot too but on special team, they got a real nice kicker. They return one of the nation’s best placekickers in Andre Szmyt. Szmyt is 47-for-54 on field goals over two seasons, earning the Lou Groza Award as a redshirt freshman in 2019. Louisville wins 59 – 23. Win probability 92.1%

Friday, Nov 27th at Boston College

Now this is the game that scares me. I’m putting the Cards on upset alert. The BC coaching staff had a complete makeover and the staff is littered with guys who have NFL coaching experience. That doesn’t guarantee success but it can’t hurt. New offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti who was the Green Bay Packer quarterback coach and former NFL OC with the Rams and Steelers, will want to run an uptempo offense and throw the ball over the place. Does he have the personnel to do it? Notre Dame transfer Phil Jurkovec should be the QB and was the No. 4 dual-threat quarterback in the class of 2018 by 247Sports. The good news for the young Jurkovec is that the offensive line has three starters back including All-ACC tackle Ben Patrula and all-star center Alec Lindstrom. Their O- line led the ACC and was fourth in the nation in fewest sacks allowed, and it was even better on running plays as BC had the league’s top running game. The defense should be pretty solid but not so spectacular to completely stymie the high flying Cards offense. Louisville wins 34 – 28. Win probability 67.7%

Saturday, Dec 5th vs Wake Forest

The game at Wake last year was a classic. It also revealed the lack of depth on the Louisville defense. Wake had a terrible defense last year and I don’t see it improving this year. You didn’t notice how bad their defense was because their offense was so good. But this year they lose their starting quarterback, leading rusher and receiver, three starters along the line, tight end, best linebacker and two starting cornerbacks. The Deacons do have some talent on defense but they are not deep. That lack of depth will truly be tested as this will be the last game of the regular season. Louisville wins 62 – 28. Win probability  86.7%


** Win probabilities are projections from, not from me.

As Always, GO CARDS!


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