CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Malik Cunningham will make his first start of the season at quarterback for Louisville as the Cardinals travel to Virginia in ACC opener for both schools. Cunningham has come off the bench in the last two games, rallying the Cardinals to come-from-behind victories in both.
TV: 12:30 p.m. ET, RSN. LINE: Virginia -5.
Louisville trailed 14-3 at half against Western Kentucky last weekend before Cunningham got the call, and the redshirt freshman threw for 88 yards and ran for 129 in the 20-17 win. "I have to do what I think is best for the team and I think this is best," Louisville coach Bobby Petrino told reporters in making the quarterback announcement on Monday. Virginia returns to Charlottesville, Va., after Hurricane Florence forced the Cavaliers to host Ohio in Nashville last weekend. The 545-mile trip didn’t seem to faze Virginia as it scored on its first two offensive plays of the game and dropped 38 points in the first half in the 45-31 win.
ABOUT LOUISVILLE (2-1)
Cunningham replaces sophomore Jawon Pass, who was decent in Week 1 against No. 1 Alabama (20-of-39, 252 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions) but was 8-of-14 for 89 yards and an interception in Week 2 before being relieved and 0-for-3 with an interception last week. Cunningham’s ability to run - he’s the team’s leading rusher with 183 yards on 33 carries - opens up the passing game, and he has completed 64 percent of his passes on the season. Running back Dae Williams is another emerging threat for Louisville, as the sophomore rumbled for 58 yards and two touchdowns on nine attempts against Western Kentucky after having just seven rushing yards on 10 carries in the first two weeks.
ABOUT VIRGINIA (2-1)
Junior-college transfer quarterback Bryce Perkins has been spectacular all season and was again in Week 3, throwing for 379 yards and three touchdowns to bring his season total to 670 yards, seven touchdowns, one interception and a 163.3 passer rating. Halfback Olamide Zaccheaus caught nine passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns against Ohio, breaking the school's single-game receiving record and extending his streak to 32 consecutive games with at least one catch. Running back Jordan Ellis added 171 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s offensive explosion and is averaging 7.5 yards per carry on the season.
1. Louisville owns a 4-2 all-time edge in the series against Virginia and is 3-1 against the Cavaliers since joining the ACC in 2015, including a 38-21 home win last season.
2. Perkins has been sacked seven times on the season, second-most in the ACC.
3. The Cardinals' offensive average of 308 yards of total offense ranks last in the conference and is 237 yards per game lower than last year's offense.
PREDICTION: Virginia 45, Louisville 28