Louisville vs. Houston prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins between the Cardinals and Cougars on Thursday in Houston, TX.
Louisville vs. Houston Game Preview
When: Thursday, Nov. 17 – 8:00 p.m. ET
Where: TDECU Stadium, Houston, TX
TV Broadcast: ESPN
The Cardinals (9-1, 7-1 ACC) fell behind, 12-0, to Wake Forest at home last Saturday, as they endured a turnover-prone first half. However, Brandon Radcliff rushed for three touchdowns in a 41-point second half, and the Cardinals eventually stormed past the Demon Deacons for a 44-12 win. Bobby Petrino’s squad held Wake to just 37 yards after halftime.
Meanwhile, Greg Ward Jr. threw for two touchdowns and ran for another to lead the Cougars (8-2, 5-2 AAC) past Tulane for a 30-18 win last week. Tom Herman’s squad never trailed, getting a touchdown on its opening possession when Tulane’s Parry Nickerson fumbled a punt return in the end zone and it was recovered by Jeremy Winchester.
During last year’s contest in Louisville, Ward Jr. threw two of his three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to rally the Cougars to a 34-31 win. The loss was part of the Cardinals’ 0-3 start, from which they recovered to win eight of their final 10 games.
What To Know About Louisville
After last weekend’s slew of upsets, the Cardinals know that they are positioned for a shot at a College Football Playoff berth if they win out. Lamar Jackson did not have a monster game last week against the Demon Deacons, but it wasn’t needed in the Cardinals’ explosive second half. He rushed for a game-high 153 yards on 22 carries but was held to 145 yards through the air. A big game from him wasn’t needed, though, as Radcliff carried the load. This is a team that has had some scares against inferior competition, and style points are needed if it wants to get into the national semifinals. A win against Houston in prime time would help Louisville’s CFP cause.
What to Know About Houston
Ward Jr. finished with 189 yards through the air last week in the win over Tulane, which gave the Cougars a bit of a fight. Herman’s squad has not looked crisp since the loss to Navy earlier in the year, as the Cougars have played down to their competition. Don’t expect that this week against the Cardinals. While we may not see a strong performance such as the one they put on in the season opener against Oklahoma, expect Houston to deliver one of its finest showings of the season. Ward needs to play a clean game, though, if the Cougars want to pull the upset. Houston’s seven-point victory over UCF a few weeks ago featured three interceptions from Ward, who may not be 100 percent healthy after taking a beating throughout the year. Defensively, the Cougars have been stout against the run, but stopping Jackson and Radcliff will be quite the chore.
Offense: Louisville. The Cards are averaging 583.2 yards per game, while Houston is putting up 452.4 yards per contest.
Defense: Louisville. Both units are strong, although Louisville’s pass defense is slightly better.
Special Teams: Even. Both teams have the capability of springing a big return on a kickoff.
Coaching: Louisville. Herman is enjoying a nice run at Houston and will get a Power Five gig, but Petrino has his team in the CFP race.
Intangibles: Houston. The Cougars are at home and have a chance to play spoiler.
Matchup To Watch
Louisville special teams vs. Houston special teams
In last year’s game, Houston’s special teams helped deliver a victory. The Cougars partially blocked John Wallace’s 53-yard field goal attempt that would have tied it with 54 seconds left, and Brandon Wilson also returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown that helped tie the game. In its quest for an upset on Thursday, a big kickoff return could help turn the tide.
Spread: No Spread (as of post)
Over/Under: No Line (as of post)
Louisville vs. Houston Prediction
I would expect Houston to play more like the team we saw against Oklahoma than the team that has struggled since its loss to Navy. Ultimately, though, Louisville’s slew of offensive weapons are too much for the solid Houston defense to handle. The Cards pull away in the fourth quarter.
Louisville vs. Houston Score Prediction: Louisville 38, Houston 27