Louisville football vs. Boston College: Betting line, 3 things to know before making pick

Louisville football is riding high on the heels of a dominant win over South Florida and returns to ACC action to play at Boston College at noon Saturday.

The Cardinals have yet to win a conference game with losses to Syracuse and Florida State but will try to change that this week. U of L leads the all-time series over BC 8-6, which includes last year’s 28-14 victory over the Eagles at Cardinal Stadium.

Here are three things to know about the upcoming league game:

In similar boats

Louisville's Malik Cunningham gets a hand from teammate Monty Montgomery who is on the injured list at Cardinal Stadium Saturday. UofL beat Boston College and is now 4-3 and breaks a two-game losing streak. Oct. 23, 2021
Louisville's Malik Cunningham gets a hand from teammate Monty Montgomery who is on the injured list at Cardinal Stadium Saturday. UofL beat Boston College and is now 4-3 and breaks a two-game losing streak. Oct. 23, 2021

Louisville and Boston College are both 0-2 in ACC play heading into Saturday’s Week 5 contest, with one of those losses for both teams being to undefeated Florida State. Boston College’s defeat was more recent, getting routed by the Seminoles 44-14 on the road. Following a close 35-31 loss to FSU, the Cardinals were able to build some confidence last weekend by rebounding with a 41-3 nonconference win over South Florida.

With both teams needing an ACC win, the game becomes that much more important.

“Having to go up to Boston on the road, obviously a challenge when you play on the road in the ACC,” U of L coach Scott Satterfield said. “But it comes back to us. Focus on what we can control, which is how we prepare. I thought we did a great job of that last week with being very intentional in how we prepared, so we’ve got to do that again this week. Our guys have to be focused in each and every day with the game plan that we're putting in and how to execute it, and then obviously go up there and play fast.”

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It’s the best opportunity for both teams considering what’s ahead. Louisville will stay on the road next week to play at Virginia then have a bye before hosting Pitt and Wake Forest. Boston College plays host to Clemson then travels to Wake Forest before having a conference break to play at UConn.

Over the past five seasons, the Cardinals have gone 6-13 in the month of October, while the Eagles have recorded an 8-11 record.

Steady improvements

Louisville’s Tiyon Evans celebrates scoring a touchdown against USF.  Sept. 24, 2022
Louisville’s Tiyon Evans celebrates scoring a touchdown against USF. Sept. 24, 2022

What a difference a week can make.

Louisville’s offense went from 36th in the country in rushing and 113th in scoring to 14th and 95th, respectively, after beating the Bulls. The Cardinals’ scoring average bumped up from 19.3 to 24.8 to complement 224.5 rushing yards, almost 20 more yards than their average this time last week. It’s a credit to the Cardinals’ diverse group of running backs, all of whom Satterfield praised for making the most out of their opportunities when called upon while dealing with injuries. Starter Tiyon Evans and Trevion Cooley each missed a game with an injury, while Jalen Mitchell has been out for two weeks and is likely to miss this week again with a lower leg injury.

“I love the competition and effort that the guys have been able to create,” Satterfield said. “I think we’ll continue that on.”

Positive signs:How Louisville's running backs showed growth in win over USF

Additionally, Louisville is also 10th in the ACC in both overall and passing offense, while having the conference’s second-best rushing attack behind Florida State.

Despite being .500 on the year, the Cardinals have shown statistical growth after every game and scored their most points of the year against the Bulls.

“We just started out early in the season just not doing as well scoring points, and I think the last two weeks, we've done a much better job with it,” Satterfield said. “We're more disciplined on offense. We're allowing our offense to go faster. You notice the tempo, the last few games, has been a lot quicker on offense, and we've been able to get more plays.”

The Cardinals had 19 first downs in the first half against South Florida, which is five fewer than they had in the whole game against Florida State the week before. While quarterback Malik Cunningham had fewer passing yards against South Florida (186) than FSU (243), his accuracy went from 62% to 64% and he matched his season passing touchdown total with a 26-yard throw to Jaelin Carter, who made the diving catch into the end zone for his first-ever reception as a Cardinal.

Giving Zay (his) Flowers

Sep 4, 2021; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Boston College Eagles wide receiver Zay Flowers (4) hauls in a touchdown catch behind Colgate Raiders defensive back Owen Goss (27) during the first half at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 4, 2021; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Boston College Eagles wide receiver Zay Flowers (4) hauls in a touchdown catch behind Colgate Raiders defensive back Owen Goss (27) during the first half at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Boston College wide receiver Zay Flowers is considered one of the best receivers in the ACC. Louisville knows the Eagles will do anything and everything they can to get him the ball and must prepare for that.

“We’ve got to make sure we know where he is each and every down,” Louisville defensive coordinator Bryan Brown said. “If we can do that and tackle well again like we saw this past Saturday, we should be in for a really, really good fight.”

Flowers is currently the second-leading receiver in the ACC with 330 yards and three touchdowns on 29 receptions for an average of 11.4 yards per catch. That also puts him 35th among FBS players in yardage and 36th in yards per game with 82.5. The next closest Eagles receiver is George Takacs with 166 yards and a score on 16 catches for an average of 41.5 receiving yards per outing.

A memory made:Why Louisville native Jaelin Carter's first catch as a Cardinal was years in the making

Because Flowers is a focal point of BC’s offense, the challenge for the Eagles will be in getting other receivers involved as well.

We want Zay to get targets. We want those other guys to get more targets, too, and we’ll work towards that for sure,” Eagles coach Jeff Hafley said. “There’s more than one capable receiver to get the ball to, and I think we can do a better job both scheme-wise and executing to getting other people the ball.”

More:How to watch Louisville vs. Boston College football: Kickoff, TV channel, stream, spread

Betting line

According to Vegas Insider, Louisville is a 15 ½-point favorite over Boston College.

Another big game:BC is the third must-win game this season. U of L is 0-2 in the others

Prediction

Louisville 35, Boston College 21 

Armed with a renewed sense of confidence and more balance, Louisville’s offense has what it needs to have another solid outing when it matters most. While Flowers presents a challenge to the Cardinals’ defense, the group will make enough plays to limit the Eagles’ receiver and leave Boston with a win.

Reach Louisville football, women's basketball and baseball beat writer Alexis Cubit at acubit@gannett.com and follow her on Twitter at @Alexis_Cubit.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Louisville Cardinals football vs. Boston College: 3 things to know