On Saturday (10/28/23), No. 20 Duke faces No. 18 Louisville in a game with significant ACC implications. In this article, find a full preview of the matchup with the latest betting odds. In addition, find our best bet which is under 46.5 points.
Duke Blue Devils Vs. Louisville Cardinals Prediction
Injuries will go a long way toward determining the outcome of this game, so I’ll start there with this breakdown. Duke quarterback Riley Leonard suffered an ankle injury against Notre Dame a few weeks ago, and he missed the win over NC State. He tried to play through the injury against Florida State last week before re-aggravating it and leaving the game.
Leonard’s rushing is a massive part of his game, and the ankle injury completely eliminated that aspect against Florida State. He completed just 7 of 16 passes for 69 yards before leaving and was mostly ineffective. Henry Belin IV relieved him and completed just 1 of 6 passes for 7 yards. Duke’s points almost entirely came from defense and special teams.
Louisville, meanwhile, is dealing with multiple injuries of its own. Starting offensive guard Renato Brown is out for the rest of the year while cornerback Jarvis Brownlee’s status is unknown as he’s dealing with a foot injury. Most importantly, running back Jawhar Jordan saw just two carries in the team’s loss to Pitt as he is dealing with a hamstring injury.
Jordan would be a huge loss for Louisville as he leads the team with 661 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. He’s the lynchpin of the offense, and I don’t trust quarterback Jack Plummer to create consistent offense against Duke’s elite defense without the star running back.
While the offenses deal with major injuries, I have far more confidence in the defenses. Duke is 24th in rush play rate and will be running into the teeth of the best run defense by EPA. Louisville, meanwhile, is facing an elite Duke pass defense ranked 14th by EPA. I like the under in this game regardless of the status of Leonard and Jordan, but if both are out, this total should drop.
Duke Blue Devils Vs. Louisville Cardinals Prediction: Under 46.5 Points
Duke Blue Devils Vs. Louisville Cardinals Best Odds
At the time I’m writing this preview, the spread sits at 4.5 points in favor of Louisville. I’d imagine there’s a strong chance the spread will grow from that point if Riley Leonard is ruled out. Meanwhile, the total sits at 46.5 points, which could drop if Leonard or Jawhar Jordan are out.
Duke Blue Devils Vs. Louisville Cardinals Key Matchups
I’ve spent a lot of time talking about what life could look like for these teams if their star offensive talents are ruled out. However, let’s take a look at what the matchups could look like for each if they do play.
Riley Leonard Vs. Louisville’s Pass Defense
If Riley Leonard does surprise me and play in this game, his mobility will likely still be very much compromised. He was incredibly immobile against Florida State, and while he gutted out one 13-yard run, he looked very uncomfortable doing so.
Leonard would be facing a Louisville pass defense that has been prone to giving up the big play, ranking 96th in pass play explosiveness allowed. That would be even more true if cornerback Jarvis Brownlee ends up being ruled out.
While Louisville has allowed some big plays, they rank 30th in passing success rate allowed. Leonard will have to rely on the big plays, and that hasn’t been a strength of his game – he has completed just 20% of his passes 20+ yards downfield.
OH MY DUAL THREAT RILEY LEONARD😳😳
Duke now leads Clemson 13-7 with this 44 yard TD scamper from Leonard.
This is the best QB run of CFB so far🔥
— First Class Prospects (@FCProspects_) September 5, 2023
Jawhar Jordan Vs. Duke’s Run Defense
A huge reason for Louisville’s strong 6-1 start to the season has been the electric running of Jawhar Jordan. He has 661 rushing yards at a 7.4 YPC clip that ranks fifth among qualified Power Five running backs.
With Jordan limited to just two carries in the loss to Pittsburgh two weeks ago, Maurice Turner and Isaac Guerendo combined for 25 carries for 119 yards. That’s a 4.7 YPC clip that’s far off from Jordan’s season long efficiency.
If Jordan plays, he’ll be facing a Duke run defense that ranks 77th in success rate allowed and 79th in explosiveness allowed. The Blue Devils are a below average tackling defense per PFF, which is surprising given how well coached they are. Jordan would have opportunities to make a big impact if he can play.
JAWHAR JORDAN IS TOO FAST🔥
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 8, 2023