Miami, Fl. at Louisville
August 31, 2014
By Brian Edwards
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Matchup: Miami, Fl. at Louisville
Venue: Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, Kentucky
Date: Monday, Sept. 1, 2014
Time/TV: 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Line: Louisville -3.5, Over/Under 54
Last Meeting: Dec. 28, 2013, Louisville (-5.5) 36 vs. Miami, Fl. 9
Miami will be looking to avenge an embarrassing postseason loss to Louisville when these schools square off Monday night at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. As of early Saturday afternoon, most betting shops had U of L installed as a 3.5-point favorite with a total of 54. Some books had the Cardinals at minus three with a -120 price.
Bobby Petrino's team is -170 on the money line, while gamblers can take the Hurricanes to win outright for a +150 return (risk $100 to win $150).
Since leaving Louisville after going 41-9 in four seasons from 2003-2006, Petrino has left a pair of jobs under sketchy circumstances. First, while he was at U of L, he flirted with schools like Ole Miss, LSU, Notre Dame and others, not to mention the Oakland Raiders. Shortly after signing a 10-year contract with U of L, he bolted for the Atlanta Falcons.
But within months of his hiring, Michael Vick became immersed in an ugly dog-fighting scandal that led to a two-year prison sentence. Petrino took the job to coach Vick but instead of buckling down and going to work (after all, he was getting paid $5 million per year!), he reacted angrily and distanced himself from his players with his mercurial behavior. In the end, Petrino bolted with three games left in the season to take the Arkansas job, leaving owner Arthur Blank fuming because he went on national television 24 hours earlier and spoke highly of Petrino, who had assured Blank there was nothing to the Arkansas rumors before a Falcons loss on Monday Night Football.
Twenty-four hours after the MNF loss, Petrino was calling the Hogs in Fayetteville live on Sports Center.
Petrino coached his ass off at Arkansas, winning 10 games in his final season. The losses came at LSU and at Alabama, who both had to come to Fayetteville in 2012 when expectations were through the roof based on the return of QB Tyler Wilson and RB Knile Davis.
But during spring practice, a wreck on a Harley Davison motorcycle prompted one of the most scandalous one-week investigation in the history of sports in the state of Arkansas. Petrino initially told AD Jeff Long that he was alone when he crashed. A subsequent investigation revealed that Petrino was with a young co-ed who recently graduated after a volleyball career for the Razorbacks.
Additionally, she had just been given a job within the Arkansas football program ahead of more than 150 other applicants. Petrino also gave her a $20,000 signing bonus out of his own pocket, which was obviously a major breach of school rules.
Since Petrino originally lied to Long about being solo for the motorcycle wreck, in addition to hiring his mistress, the well-respected AD was left with a tough decision. But in the end, despite Petrino's success on the field, it was a no-brainer for Long to send BP packing.
Petrino spent a year away from football repairing his marriage and attempting to make things right with his family. Then Western Kentucky hired him for the 2013 campaign and he led it to an 8-4 record. The Hilltoppers actually made cash in this scenario, as the contract was built to protect the school if BP left after just one season.
Louisville had a strong four-year run under Charlie Strong, who turned down several jobs in 2013, including a lucrative offer from Tennessee, but couldn't pass on the chance to replace Mack Brown at Texas. The Cardinals went 12-1 straight up and 5-7-1 against the spread last year, smashing Miami by a 36-9 count as five-point favorites at the Russell Athletic Bowl.
But U of L lost its leader in Teddy Bridgewater, who started at QB for three seasons and finished as the school's third all-time leading passer. He went to the Minnesota Vikings in the first round, as did DE Calvin Pryor. Petrino inherits a squad returning seven starters on offense but just four on defense.
Louisville's 2013 'D' surrendered just 12.2 points per game. Former Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham signed a lucrative four-year contract (guaranteed!) to become the Cards' DC. However, and nobody should be stunned by this, a recent report from SI.com revealed that Grantham and Petrino are having issues galore, including multiple shouting matches in front of the rest of the staff.
Will Gardner saw limited duty behind Bridgewater as a redshirt freshman, completing 8-of-12 passes for 112 yards and two TDs without being intercepted. He has a pair of outstanding RBs to lean on in Dominique Brown and Michael Dyer. Brown rushed for a team-best 825 yards and eight TDs last year while averaging 5.1 yards per carry. The Cards also have Michael Dyer, the MVP of Auburn's BCS Championship Game win over Oregon four years ago. But Dyer struggled with injuries last year and his status for Monday night is in question due to another injury.
U of L will be without its best offensive weapon in wide receiver DeVante Parker, who broke his foot last weekend and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks. Parker had 55 catches for 885 yards and 12 TDs in 2013.
Miami started 2013 with seven consecutive wins, only to drop three in a row by double-digit margins once star RB Duke Johnson was lost to a season-ending injury. After getting spanked by U of L in the postseason, Al Golden's squad finished 9-4 SU and 5-8 ATS.
The Hurricanes return seven starters on offense and seven on defense. However, starting safety Rayshawn Jenkins, who had 46 tackles and three interceptions in 2013, is out for the season due to back surgery. Also, UM's top two quarterbacks, Ryan Williams and Kevin Olsen, won't play against the Cardinals.
Williams is still recovering from a torn ACL last year but could be ready in a few weeks. Olsen is serving a one-game suspension. Therefore, true freshman Brad Kaaya will get the starting nod under center.
The good news is that Johnson is healthy again. Despite playing only seven games, Johnson still garnered first-team All-ACC honors with 920 rushing yards and six TDs. He averaged 6.1 YPC and has take-it-the-house speed on any given carry.
As a road underdog, UM owns a 5-4-1 spread record as a road underdog during Golden's tenure.
This key ACC showdown will kick Monday night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
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