Louisville QB Micale CunninghamMark Humphrey/Associated Press
I've wavered on this pick all week because Micale Cunningham threw some passes last Saturday against Western Kentucky that he probably wouldn't get away with against Miami. And while Louisville has a strong identity, defensive ends Quincy Roche and Jaelan Phillips can create huge problems if Cunningham is rolling right so often again.
But last season, Miami never won in six chances when having at least eight days to prepare. That's a coaching problem. I'm still in see-it-to-believe-it mode with a Manny Diaz-led team. Give me Louisville in a close one.
Anyone else find it odd that both of these teams are ranked in the AP Top 20? Just me? Maybe I'm still adjusting to rankings without multiple conferences. It just looks weird. But even if both these teams are slightly overvalued in this bizarre start to the year, the contest itself should be quite good.
Although I love D'Eriq King's game, I like Louisville in this spot. Cunningham has the chance to be one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC, and this could be a breakout game for him. Throw in running back Javian Hawkins, who should bounce back from a sluggish opener, and this offense could be delightful as the season progresses. Give me Louisville (and the over, if you're into such things).
Before last week, I would have picked Louisville. But Miami's 337 rushing yards against UAB were game-changing. The Hurricanes didn't have a single 200-yard rushing performance against an FBS opponent last season. That includes being held to 51 yards by Central Michigan and 74 yards by Louisiana Tech, so save your "But it was only UAB!" retorts.
King already has this offense looking better than it has in at least three years, and Cam'Ron Harris had some impressive runs against the Blazers. Hawkins and Co. will put up a good fight, but I've got to go with the Hurricanes against a Cardinals defense that has had a lot of trouble slowing down opposing running games over the past few seasons. Miami 28, Louisville 23.
King is the real deal, and the Hurricanes didn't have to dig deep into their bag of tricks to rack up 495 yards against UAB last week. Miami forced three turnovers in a lopsided 52-27 victory when these teams met last year, and while it should be a closer game this time, the Hurricanes still have the advantage thanks to their high-powered offense.
If there is a "surprise" team in the ACC this year—can't really consider North Carolina a surprise with all the hype—it's Louisville. It's possible Scott Satterfield is one of the five best X's and O's coaches in the nation, and to do what he did at Louisville in just one year was remarkable. Cunningham is playing at a high level and has plenty of weapons, and Miami's defense has holes. I like the Cardinals to win, though King will keep Miami close.