After a tough loss against Boston College, N.C. State looks to get back to its winning ways when they go on the road to take on the Louisville Cardinals
#24 N.C. State Wolfpack (7-3) vs. Louisville Cardinals (6-4)
How to Watch:
- Date: Saturday, November 19th
- Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
- Channel: Regional Sports Network
- Spread: LOU -4
- Over/Under: 45 points
Trying to rebound from a devastating loss against Boston College, N.C. State hopes to put up a stronger performance in Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday. Senior day celebrations were cut abruptly following the 21-20 loss, ending the Pack’s 16-game home win streak, but with bowl placement season around the corner — N.C. State has to put those feelings in the rearview mirror.
If there’s any ACC program that knows a thing or two about taking blows to the chin and getting back into the fight — it’s the Cardinals. Opening the season going 1-2 through its first three games, Louisville has been rolling with the punches all year long. Whether it’s close losses to lesser opponents or injuries to headlining players, N.C. State could do with replicating the Cardinals’ response to their masterclass in hard knocks.
These programs have been on a similar trajectory all season — seeing star quarterbacks miss time with injuries and suffering disappointing conference losses to the same opponents. Louisville managed to remedy its shortcomings much earlier in the year, however, while N.C. State’s season seems to have fallen to the wayside in its later stages.
Coming into this weekend, there’s still plenty to play for. In N.C. State’s case; trying to pull the all-time record between itself and the Cards to even ground will definitely be at the top of the list. In 11 meetings between the two schools since 1951, Louisville owns a 7-4 advantage in wins against the Wolfpack. Recent years have been much kinder to N.C. State, however, winning three of the last four matchups by multiple scores.
In their current stages, the programs both boast incredibly talented playmakers under center. While his availability for the coming weekend remains in the air, Louisville’s Malik Cunningham has solidified himself as one of the ACC’s best dual-threat quarterbacks. Looking to one day sport that crown himself, N.C. State’s MJ Morris has been the Pack’s knight in shining armor since losing Devin Leary for the year.
At the offensive skill positions, a combination of experience and fresh blood has benefitted both schools. Louisville’s Tyler Hudson and N.C. State’s Thayer Thomas are veterans that headline their program’s receiving corps, but young talents such as Ahmari Huggins-Bruce and Keyon Lesane have stepped into much larger roles for their respective programs. The same remains true in the backfield, with Tiyon Evans and Jordan Houston pacing their units at running back but sharing time with up-and-comers Jawhar Jordan at Louisville and Michael Allen at N.C. State.
Louisville may hold the advantage with its big-play offense and proven playmakers down the field, but even if N.C. State’s young talent struggles to find the end zone offensively — the Wolfpack defense will have its back. Clocking in as the ninth-best run defense in the country, N.C. State has all the tools to make Louisville’s potent rushing attack irrelevant. Unfortunately, relying on the team’s pass defense to deliver a similar effect hasn’t particularly worked in the Pack’s favor this year.
Shaping up to be a battle of individual greatness on both sides of the ball for each team, Saturday’s matchup has massive implications for bowl season. While the loss to Boston College effectively knocked N.C. State off the New Year’s Six high horse, the road for this team to earn 10 wins against a worthy challenger runs through the Cardinals.
Players to Know:
MJ Morris – N.C. State, QB
2022 stats: 648 yards, eight touchdowns, one interception, 60.5% completion percentage
Last week was the first time MJ Morris showed his freshman colors in a Wolfpack uniform. In a disastrous performance from N.C. State, Morris finished the night with 135 yards on 50% completion, two touchdowns, and four turnovers. Taking care of the ball will be the top priority this week for Morris and his play callers, but getting that first poor performance out of the way should benefit the young star in the long run.
Drake Thomas – N.C. State, LB
2022 stats: 73 total tackles, 11.5 TFLs, five sacks, four passes defended
N.C. State’s aforementioned ranking as the ninth-best run defense in college football is owed largely to the team’s man in the middle — Drake Thomas. Week after week, Thomas exercises his will on opposing backfields by creating a living nightmare for quarterbacks and running backs alike. A near shoo-in for the All-ACC First Team at this point in the season, Thomas is sure to perform to the best of his ability with what time he has left in the college game.
Malik Cunningham – Louisville, QB
2022 stats: 1,552 yards, 19 touchdowns, four interceptions, 62.7% completion percentage
Climbing his way up the Cardinals record books in his five years with the program, Malik Cunningham has put his name in the same conversation as collegiate greats like Lamar Jackson. It’s been a rocky road in his final season with Louisville, but his big-play capability has never wavered. Facing a pass defense prone to being torched over the top, expect a few highlights from the veteran if he’s cleared to suit up.
Tyler Hudson – Louisville, WR
2022 stats: 57 receptions, 866 yards, 15.2 yards per reception, one touchdown
If Oronde Gadsden II and A.T. Perry weren’t good enough indicators of how vulnerable the Wolfpack secondary is to getting burned by physical receivers — Tyler Hudson is sure to clear that right up. Using his 6-foot-2-inch frame to tower over opposing defensive backs, Hudson has made out as Cunningham’s clear No. 1 on the outside. N.C. State should expect nothing different on Saturday, and with Hudson’s skillset — he’s sure to impress regardless of who starts under center.
Devin Leary: N.C. State, QB: Shoulder Injury, out
Jalen Mitchell: N.C. State, RB: Undisclosed injury, questionable Saturday
Malik Cunningham: Louisville, QB: Shoulder injury, questionable
Savion Jackson: N.C. State, DE: Knee injury, out Saturday
Anthony Smith: N.C. State, WR: Undisclosed injury, out