A season of great promise for the Louisville Cardinals gets underway with a neutral site clash against the Purdue Boilermakers. The two teams will meet Saturday, September 2, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Kickoff is set for 7:30, and the game will be televised on Fox.
According to our Week 1 betting lines, Louisville is a 25-point favorite over Purdue. The Cardinals originally opened as a 23.5-point favorite, indicating that Louisville is getting more of the betting action. The over/under between the Cardinals and Boilermakers is set at 69 points.
Purdue vs. Louisville Preview & Game Predictions
Few teams have the luxury of bringing back a Heisman Trophy winner, but the Cardinals will get to experience that this season with the return of quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson’s return this season and his abilities to shred opposing defenses with both his arm and legs have expectations sky-high in Louisville this year.
Head coach Bobby Petrino has enjoyed some success during his second stint in Louisville, going 26-13 over three seasons. However, he’s not quite reached the same heights he did during his first go-round in Louisville, especially after losing three straight to close out last season. In 2006, Petrino led the Cardinals to a win in the Orange Bowl and a top-10 ranking. Reaching that level is the goal for the Cardinals heading into 2017.
The Boilermakers, meanwhile, are at the other end of the spectrum. Purdue finished 3-9 a season ago, losing its final seven games and squeaking out just one win in Big Ten play. That led to a coaching change over the winter, with Jeff Brohm, a former Louisville quarterback who once served as an assistant under Petrino, taking over.
In three years as the head coach at Western Kentucky, succeeding Petrino in that job, Brohm led the Hilltoppers to a 30-10 record and two Conference USA championships. There should be little doubt that he’s ready to take over a team in a power-5 conference.
Free College Football Betting Prediction: Louisville -25
Purdue fans should be excited about Brohm taking over, but I would still lean in favor of Louisville in this matchup. The Boilermakers may return six starters on defense and they may get a boost from a couple of transfers, but that doesn’t mean they’re ready to face a quarterback like Jackson. Purdue allowed more than 30 points eight times last season, and they certainly didn’t face a quarterback as dynamic as Jackson in any of those games.
To be fair, Louisville lost a lot of starters on offense, so there’s some inexperience in Jackson’s supporting cast. The offensive line is also an issue, after allowing the most sacks in the ACC last year. However, Jackson can run away from trouble if necessary, and Petrino will be able to find creative ways to mitigate that issue as much as possible.
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As for the Purdue offense, they have a proven quarterback in David Blough, but he may be all the Boilermakers have. Blough threw for over 3,300 yards last season, which was the most in the Big Ten. Of course, the Boilermakers were always playing from behind, so they were forced to throw the ball. Blough also had nearly as many interceptions, 21, as he did touchdown passes, 25.
This season, Blough doesn’t have the same group of receivers he had to work with last year. He’ll also be setting up shop behind a shaky offensive line. Even if the Cardinals are a little inexperienced up front, they should be able to put plenty of pressure on Blough and make him uncomfortable. On top of that, the entire Purdue offense will be adjusting to a new system that Brohm has implemented, so there could be some growing pains early in the season.
The Boilermakers may be able to keep things competitive early in this game, but ultimately, it’s difficult to imagine them keeping up with Jackson for four quarters. Once Jackson gets going, Louisville can put up points in a hurry, helping them beat the 25-point spread and cruise to an easy win.