The Louisville Cardinals, competing in the new American Athletic Conference last year, didn't play one game against a ranked team.
And while they went 12-1, they went just 5-7 against the spread. Now the Cardinals take a step up in competition and begin life in the Atlantic Coast Conference when they host the Miami Hurricanes Monday night.
Point spread: The Cardinals opened as three-point favorites; the total was 54 at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)
Odds Shark computer prediction: 46.2-31.5 Cardinals
Why the Miami Hurricanes can cover the spread
The Hurricanes return 14 starters this season, seven on each side of the ball. They have to replace quarterback Stephen Morris, but running back Duke Johnson is back after missing the last half of last season with a bad ankle, along with three along the offensive line.
And the defense returns four of last year's top six tacklers, and five of the back seven. Miami started 7-0 last year before losing Johnson and won three road games.
This is the Hurricanes' fourth season under head coach Al Golden, and they might have their best team yet for him. With some decent play from the QB spot, Miami should be right in this game. They are 5-1 ATS in their past six openers, according to Odds Shark’s Week 1 trend sheet.
Why the Louisville Cardinals can cover the spread
The Cardinals lost their head coach (Charlie Strong) and their starting quarterback (Teddy Bridgewater) over the offseason, but with new coach Bobby Petrino—who led this program to initial prominence a decade ago—back in charge, the offense should continue to click.
Louisville returns last year's leading rusher, leading receiver and four along the offensive line, and just enough talent remains on defense. The Cardinals are 12-2 SU at home over the last two seasons, and with a win it wouldn't take much to cover the short spread.
This game is a rematch of last year's Russell Athletic Bowl, won by Louisville, 36-9. The Cardinals covered easily as five-point favorites, but a lot of guys who played for the 'Ville that night have moved on. Miami looks like it holds an edge in the comparison of the two defenses, and with Johnson back the 'Canes should be able to grind out some drives on offense.
Plus, Miami may have a bit of revenge in mind. And with a new coach comes new systems, so Louisville might go through a learning curve early this season. So the pick for Monday night is Miami as a road dog.
- Miami is 7-2 ATS in the past nine games as road underdog
- Louisville is 7-1 SU in its last eight games at home
- Miami is 5-1 ATS in the past six openers
Note: All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark; all quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury updates and line-move updates and get the free odds tracker app.