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Game Day: Louisville vs. James Madison

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LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (5-3, 3-3) vs. JAMES MADISON DUKES (5-2, 3-2)

Game Time: 7:30 p.m.

Location: Cardinal Stadium: Louisville, Ky.

Television: ESPNU

Announcers: Drew Carter (play-by-play) and Mike Glennon (analyst)

Favorite: Louisville by 7

All-Time Series: First Meeting

Statistics:

Louisville Uniforms:

Louisville Depth Chart:

Game Day Guide:

Relevant Videos:

Excitement Level: 7.3

I never would have guessed a month ago that I would be spending this Saturday counting down the hours until Louisville kicked off against James Madison, but here we are.

Pregame Meal: Chicken wings

Wings started this winning streak. I haven’t forgotten.

Bold Prediction: James Turner goes exactly 3-for-3 on field goals

The man got a raw deal last weekend. He gets redemption against JMU.

Rance Conner Interception Alert Level: Blue Violet (medium)

Everyone else is getting interceptions these days, let’s get Rance back on the board.

Predicted Star of the Game: Yasir Abdullah

He’s been the best player on the team pretty much all season. Why fight it?

About James Madison:

via Keith Wynne

OFFENSE

Louisville recently faced off against one of the most boring offenses in the country in my opinion when Pitt came to town and couldn’t throw the football. Frank Cignetti isn’t very creative in his approach but his brother Curt has a high-powered attack that is innovative and balanced. James Madison may be a run-heavy offense but they will spread you out and throw the ball all over the field. This will be a tough test for an improved Louisville defense.

The key player on this offense is Todd Centeio. He is one of the top quarterbacks in the country and he is a true dual threat. PFF rated him as the best quarterback in the country and it’s easy to see why. Centeio is among the top twenty or so in yards per game, rating, yards per attempt, and touchdown runs by a quarterback. He has a big arm and he can make any throw you need him to. They have done a great job of stretching the field with deep crossing routes and Centeio has been very accurate on those throws.

When it comes to running the ball, Centeio has really good burst and speed but he is a bigger guy who will likely run through a tackle before he makes someone miss. The Dukes run a good amount of option stuff and he is a threat to keep it and get a big gain. I think this will be the biggest factor in the game for JMU as Louisville has not faced a true run/pass threat from an offense since the USF game. The option ability for this offense just makes it that much more of a concern.

JMU has two running backs that they use and both do a good job of running tough and forcing missed tackles. Percy Agyei-Obese and Latrele Palmer are both tall, and big backs who don’t have great speed but they can get into space and make it hard to stop them from getting chunk plays. The key for Louisville will be to get to these guys before they get going. While they did well to contain Wake Forest’s run game, they did allow them to get too many yards after contact.

The receiver group for the Dukes is very good and will be a good challenge for UofL after a good performance last weekend. Kris Thornton is a Tutu Atwell-sized receiver who plays a similar type of role as a go-to guy who can make big plays after the catch. He is a slot guy who will be hard to track down the field and he is really good at running away from coverage over the middle. I think we’ll hear his name called a lot on Saturday.

Reggie Brown and Terrance Greene are the other two receivers who will be a big factor in the game. JMU likes to spread the ball around and they have five different guys who they like to get involved and they can all stretch the field. UofL will have to mix up coverages and be sticky on these receivers because when they catch the ball, they can get up the field and create big plays.

PFF rates the Dukes’ offensive line as one of the worst in the country when it comes to pass blocking. JMU comes in at 116th in the country and they have given up a good amount of sacks for such a good offense. I tend to think that PFF’s grades are just a data point but I can’t ignore the fact that they are pretty average when it comes to sacks allowed and tackles for loss allowed. I think UofL has an opportunity to continue their upswing in sacks, pressures, and interceptions if they can take advantage of this offensive line.

DEFENSE

James Madison will bring one of the best defenses Louisville will face this year to Cardinal Stadium. They boast the best run defense in the country and play fast and physically at all levels. The Dukes aren’t a team that has played against the country’s top offenses but have been very good against some very productive teams. Competition matters but I don’t care who you are playing when you’re putting up the numbers this defense is.

The defensive line for JMU is a bit undersized in the middle but they are plenty big enough across the entire group and they can really run. Isaac Ukwu is the key player on the edge with five sacks on the season. He shows a good ability to get around the corner and bend back toward the quarterback. Jamare Edwards is the best player on the inside at 6-3/281. He has seven tackles for loss this year and he is a disruptive player against the run. UofL seems to have struggled more with quick interior players as opposed to size so this will be a spot to watch on Saturday.

Taurus Jones is the most productive player on this defense as he leads the team in tackles and tackles for loss. He and Jailin Walker have made a ton of plays in the Dukes’ 4-2-5 scheme. Walker has a couple of interceptions on the year and he is second on the team in PBUs. This is a complete defense but these two guys flash the most when you watch this team play. They have a disruptive defensive line in front of them and they get to roam and make plays.

The secondary for JMU is the group that probably deserves the most scrutiny. Their stats are mostly in the middle of the pack and they haven’t pulled in many interceptions. They do look athletic from what I’ve seen and they are one of the best teams in the country when it comes to breaking up passes. Chauncey Logan is the top player at corner with 8 PBUs as a true freshman.

The rest of the group has put up solid numbers but none of them really stick out individually. The one thing that really jumps out when you watch them play is that they will lay a big hit if it’s there for them. This group can run well and I think they do a good job of being opportunistic. They get after the ball when it’s in the air and they don’t leave a lot of guys open. Louisville will have to exploit this group through the air as they have shown they can be beaten in the pass game. Georgia Southern put up over 500 yards on them. UofL should have success here.

Notable:

—A win Saturday would give Louisville its first four-game winning streak since the 2016 season.

—The Cardinals have recorded 21 turnovers over the last five games, the most since 1995 when they also registered 21 over that span. The eight turnovers versus Wake Forest last week were the most since forcing Army to turn it over nine times in 1993.

—James Madison is 2-9 all-time against current members of the ACC. The Dukes claimed a 21-17 win at Virginia back on Sept. 18, 1982 and beat Virginia Tech 21-16 on Sept. 11, 2010.

—James Madison is 2-2 all-time in games played in the state of Kentucky.

—The Louisville defense enters the weekend ranked first in the nation in sacks and total takeaways.

—The Cardinals have recorded at least two sacks in every game this season. U of L got eight sacks from eight different players last week against Wake Forest.

—Louisville’s defense has forced at least three turnovers in five straight games for the first time since a five-game stretch back in 2000.

—Playing its first season as a member of the FBS, James Madison won its first five games of the year and entered the AP top 25 poll at No. 25 on Oct. 9. The Dukes have lost their last two games.

—Louisville’s defense ranks second in the country in interceptions (14) and sixth in forced fumbles (6).

—James Madison has allowed a grand total of zero first quarter points so far this season.

—Louisville has been tied or leading in the fourth quarter in seven of its last nine losses.

—Louisville is a 7-point favorite in this game according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The Cards are 5-3 against the spread this season and 3-2 straight up as a favorite.

—This will be the first time in program history that Louisville has faced a team whose school name begins with the letter “J.”

—Louisville is 158-172-52 all-time during the month of November, with Scott Satterfield posting a 5-6 mark in his first three seasons during the calendar’s 11th month.

—The Cards are 97-80-2 all-time in November home games.

—Over Scott Satterfield’s first four seasons at Louisville, 15 of his 43 games have been decided by one possession or less. The Cardinals are 5-10 in those games.

—Louisville is 1-16 under Scott Satterfield when trailing going into the fourth quarter. Their lone victory came last month when they outscored Pitt 17-0 in the fourth quarter on their way to a 24-10 win over the Panthers.

—Louisville is 20-6 when leading after three quarters under Satterfield.

—Louisville punter Mark Vassett ranks No. 16 nationally and leads the ACC with an average of 44.7 yards a punt after the first seven games.

—Under Scott Satterfield, Louisville is 18-3 when winning the turnover battle, and just 2-17 when losing it.

—The Cards have turned the football over seven times in their three losses this season and six times in their five victories.

—Louisville is 8-0 under Scott Satterfield when scoring 40-49 points, and 3-0 when scoring 50 or more.

—Louisville is 1-9 under Scott Satterfield when being held to 21 points or fewer, with their lone win coming earlier this season in a 20-14 triumph over UCF.

—Louisville is currently riding a consecutive game scoring streak that spans 282 games dating back to a 31-0 loss to Florida State during the 2000 season. The streak ranks as the second longest in the ACC behind only Virginia Tech, and the 11th-longest nationally.

—Louisville is 197-14 all-time when scoring 35 or more points in a game. The Cards are also 6-121 all-time when allowing opponents to score 40 or more points.

Quotable:

—“We got a great football team coming in here with James Madison. A really good team. Looking at the schedule in the preseason, I’m thinking, man, this is a bad game to have if you’re gonna play a team that’s supposedly an FCS team, but now they’re a Sun Belt team.” —Scott Satterfield

—“We didn’t spend any time on Louisville.” —James Madison head coach Curt Cignetti on his team’s bye week preparation

—“I think we’re a mature group. Obviously just the culture of this program, it’s a winning culture.” —James Madison WR Terrance Greene Jr.

—“This speaks to what we’ve been saying all year: it’s one game, right now, this week. This is all we can focus on. Doesn’t matter where we were at in the past. Doesn’t matter what we have coming up. We know we have some challenges coming up.” —Scott Satterfield

—“With the experience and the leadership we have on the team, the mood is pretty good. And it’s pretty positive throughout the team. And like I’ve been saying all year, just take it week by week. One team at a time, one goal at a time.” —James Madison CB Jordan Swann

—“Just because it’s a Power Five opponent, it is exciting. But if you think about it, it might distract you and put more pressure on you.” —James Madison WR Terrance Greene Jr.

—“I would like to think that (they’re not overlooking JMU), because hopefully you’ve learned that you just can’t show up in college football. “If you try to go out there and show up, you’re gonna get beat. There’s too many good coaches, too many good players on every team out there. This particular team has proven that. … We’re gonna approach it as if this is our Super Bowl. We have to. We have to approach it that way. If you don’t, and you just kind of glide into it, you’re gonna get beat, and you’ll get embarrassed, and it will not be good.” —Scott Satterfield

Card Chronicle Prediction: Louisville 30, James Madison 20

Go Cards.

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