By Ethan Burke
With Week 2 rolling around, college football fans have a lot to be excited for as the No. 18 Louisville Cardinals host the No. 17 Miami Hurricanes. Head coaches Scott Sattersfield (Louisville) and Manny Diaz (Miami) are both in the beginning of their second season with their respective programs, so a win this saturday would be important for each of them. Both teams will be entering this matchup with some momentum, as they earned Week 1 victories against Conference USA programs; the Canes defeated UAB at home 31-14 while the Cardinals knocked off Western Kentucky 35-21.
Why Miami will win:
The Canes running game is something special, and they lean heavily towards it. Miami ran for 337 yards and three touchdowns in their victory against UAB, led by running back Cam’Ron Harris and Quarterback D’eriq King, while Coach Diaz’s offensive vision is all about “pounding the rock,” which means playing with a quick tempo to wear down the defense. There is no question that Louisville’s defensive front is going to have their hands full against this explosive Hurricanes ground attack.
Additionally, Miami’s defense is full of talent. Coming into the season, the Hurricanes defense ranked 14th in the country and will arguably be the best defense that the Cardinals face all year. Led by Temple transfer Quincy Roche and UCLA transfer Jaelan Phillips, who both were major assets at their old schools, Louisville could definitely struggle on the attack against this strong defensive line. The Canes defense is also powerful in the linebacker position. Nesta Jade Silvera is a key player, as he is very disruptive and made several plays last week. Along with Silvera is senior Jonathan Ford, who had a breakout season last year and recorded 18 tackles. Silvera and Ford could be a real problem for a Cardinals line that showed signs of weakness against Western Kentucky last week.
Why Louisville will win:
Louisville’s passing game is something to watch out for. Quarterback Micale Cunningham is off to a strong start this season, throwing for 343 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s win against Western Kentucky. Cunningham is able to build a strong connection with wide receivers Braden Smith and Dez Fitzpatrick, who combined for 220 yards last week. Satterfield’s offense specializes in pushing the offense deep, which will be a test for the Canes secondary. Miami’s pass defense found themselves struggling a little bit against UAB before Blazers quarterback Tyler Johnston suffered an injury to his shoulder. If Miami’s pass defense doesn’t fix their mistakes, then they will have a problem against this Cardinals offense.
However, Louisville’s defense has been improving tremendously under coach Satterfield in his second season. After giving up 439.9 yards per game during the 2019 season, the Cardinals defense held the Hilltoppers to just 248 yards of offense. Louisville’s pass defense seems to be improving as plays come up, like safety Russ Yeast forcing and recovering his own fumble. The Cardinals rush defense is also becoming a force to be reckoned with, while Weakside Linebacker Montgomery recorded two sacks and inside linebacker Dorian Etheridge came up with 3.5 tackles for loss in last week’s win over Western Kentucky. Louisville’s defense seems to be on an upswing and, if they can continue that Saturday, then the Hurricanes could be in hot water, especially if King doesn’t step up.
Prediction: Miami 30 – Louisville 27
I expect this to be a hard fought, back and forth battle, but I am going to say that this will fall Miami’s way. I think with the game on the line, the Canes defense is a little more experienced which is why I give the edge to the Miami in this College Gameday showdown Saturday night.
Edited by Emma Moloney