Louisville football: What to watch during Cards’ bye week

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 26: Javian Hawkins #10 of the Louisville Cardinals stiff arms Brandon Hill #9 of the Pittsburgh Panthers as he rushes the ball in the second half during the game at Heinz Field on September 26, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 26: Javian Hawkins #10 of the Louisville Cardinals stiff arms Brandon Hill #9 of the Pittsburgh Panthers as he rushes the ball in the second half during the game at Heinz Field on September 26, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

Louisville football is on a break, but the Saturday slate is still promising.

You probably could not have chosen a worse time for Louisville football to have a bye week than coming off of two consecutive losses to start the season.

Cardinals fans, after entering the season pretty chesty, were humbled quite a bit after Louisville took two consecutive L’s to Miami and Pitt in weeks three and four.

Regardless of the bad timing, Louisville football will need to use this week as a chance to heal up, reset, and correct some mistakes that plagued them over the first third of the season.

Meanwhile, Louisville fans are forced to patiently wait for the Cardinals trip to Georgia Tech on Friday. In the meantime, the college football slate is starting to heat up.

If you’re a Cards fan, these are the games you should be watching closely on Saturday.

NC State at No. 24 Pitt- ACC Network | Noon

Your day starts with Pittsburgh as a two touchdown favorite over a rebuilding NC State squad.

Why is this game important? Mainly because it’s a good way for Louisville football fans to gauge last week’s performance. The Cardinals missed out on a number of chances to take care of business against the Panthers, who are 3-0 for the first time since 2014.

Pitt’s defense, however, looked legit, and appears capable of holding the Wolfpack to single digits. As the season progresses, we may see that the Panthers are competing for one of the two spots in the ACC title game. If that’s the case, the trajectory of Louisville’s season might not be on as steep of a decline as we think.

Jacksonville State at Florida State- WatchESPN | 4:00 PM

Is Florida State the worst team in the ACC? They have done little to disprove that notion in their first two games.

Meanwhile, their turnstile offensive line and rotating cast at quarterback represents a sharp contrast to FCS Jacksonville State- a power at their level. The Gamecocks are led by Clemson QB transfer Zerrick Cooper, who could be the best offensive player on the field Saturday.

Louisville fans will want to tune in to get a preview of what is to come in two weeks against the Seminoles, and also to catch some interesting names at quarterback.

Former Cardinal Jordan Travis has rotated in and out of the lineup in relief of James Blackman, leading the team in rushing. However, look out for one-time massive Louisville commit Chubba Purdy. The 2020 signing day flip was set to be the best stud behind center for the Cards, but now he is listed as one of the primary back-ups against JSU. Should things go haywire once again this week, maybe Purdy sees some clock.

FSU is a heavy favorite, but don’t sleep on the Gamecocks and Cooper.

Virginia Tech at Duke- ACC Network | 4:00 PM

Perhaps the most intriguing future match-up for Louisville football is Virginia Tech. Considered a toss-up game entering the season, it’s a win the Cardinals will desperately need after dropping their first two 50-50 games.

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They face an 0-3 Duke team looking to right the ship under new starter Chase Brice. I’m looking to see what kind of threat the Hokies offense poses for the still-growing Louisville defense on Halloween.

A potential easy money game?

No. 13 Texas A&M at No. 2 Alabama- CBS | 3:30 PM

Alabama is head and shoulders the better team in this game, but are they really 18 points better than the Aggies?

In his third year at Texas A&M, Jimbo Fisher still has his squad playing on the same level as Kevin Sumlin, who was let go after some moderately successful years.

This is proving ground for Fisher and A&M. Yes, they did struggle with Vanderbilt last week, but we saw nearly every major power five squad struggle game one, and who could blame them? Looking ahead, they play 6 ranked teams in the next 9 games. The road doesn’t get any easier for the Aggies.

Will Bama win? Almost certainly. But by three-plus scores? I can’t see that happening. This might be a sucker line, but I think even Vegas could be reaching a bit too far here.

The Game of the Day

No. 7 Auburn at No. 4 Georgia- ESPN | 7:30 PM

Auburn wasn’t a world beater by any means against Kentucky in week one, but, well, neither was Georgia against Arkansas.

The SEC certainly does not stake its claim on quarterback play. However, we are in the middle of a season where the leagues four top teams- Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Auburn- all have unproven quarterbacks on the heels of the Tuas, Joe Burrows, etc. being the offensive difference-makers and faces of the league.

Whichever team has a man step up behind center could have a leg up on the competition in the playoff race.

Ole Miss at Kentucky- SEC Network | 4:00 PM

Louisville doesn’t play Kentucky this year for the first time in over two decades. However, given how overly confident Cats fans were coming into the season, it will be fascinating to watch how that narrative changes if Kentucky doesn’t run away with a win against this Ole Miss squad.

The Rebels are dangerous on offense, and first year head coach Lane Kiffin should have plenty of tricks up his sleeve to keep a talented UK defense off-balance.

If Ole Miss can score, the key becomes Kentucky’s ability to take advantage of a pretty vulnerable defense.

A daunting schedule lies ahead for UK, and if they fall to 0-2, I’m not sure how they recover.

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