The Louisville Cardinals are hoping for big things in 2016 under polarizing head coach Bobby Petrino while the Charlotte 49ers just want to reach respectability in their second season as an FBS program.
The two bowl game hopefuls will square off in a Week 1 matchup that looks like a virtual lock for one team. Now, let’s find out who will get the SU wins and ATS cover! Get the latest college football expert picks here.
49ers vs Cardinals 2016 Week 1 Expert Predictions
Where: Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, KY
When: Thursday, September, 1
Time: 6:00 PM ET
TV: ESPN 3
NCAAF Odds: Louisville -39.5
Why Bet the Charlotte 49ers at +39.5 Points
The 49ers look like a good bet because they’re getting an insane five touchdowns plus! Charlotte 49ers (2-10 SU, 3-6-3 ATS) was a complete mess in 2015 in their first season of FBS football as they averaged a modest 17.5 points per game while allowing a whopping 36.2 points per contest defensively.
The good news is that the Niners have a whopping 16 returning starters, though some question marks still exist, starting at quarterback where junior college transfer Kevin Olsen, the younger brother of Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen will start. Olsen will hand off early and often to All-Conference-USA running back Kalif Phillips (961 yards) and he’ll have a trio of experienced receivers in seniors Trent Bostick and Austin Duke and junior L.T. Ford. The offensive line returns four starters including All-Conference right guard Nate Davis.
Defensively, the Niners have eight returning starters including All-Conference tackle Larry Ogunjobi and ends Zach Duncan and Brandon Bans. Charlotte’s leading tackler from 2015, linebacker Nick Cook will head up a solid group while the secondary has two senior starters at cornerback.
Why Bet the Louisville Cardinals at -39.5 Points
Because they have a dangerous dual-threat signal-caller and are superior to the 49ers in every way possible! Not only did Louisville close out the 2015 season by winning six of their final seven games, but the Cardinals also found out they have a seriously gifted dual-threat signal-caller in quarterback Lamar Jackson. A player that set a Music City Bowl record by rushing for a mind-boggling 226 yards while tossing two TD passes.
The Cardinals return a whopping 10 starters from last year’s squad ad have a ton of talent at the skill positions, not to mention a now experienced offensive line after relying on a pair of true freshmen last season. Louisville was also very god defensively in 2015 as the Cardinals ranked a stellar 17th in total defense and 39th in points allowed (24.0 ppg).
Three of Louisville’s top four tacklers a year ago are back, including linebackers Keith Kelsey and Devonte Fields and hard-hitting safety Josh Harvey-Clemons. Louisville recorded an impressive 26 turnovers last season and could force even more from their opponents in 2016.
Expert Pick & Final Score Prediction
The Cardinals are ranked 19th in the AP preseason poll and they have plenty of talent, but there’s no way I’m backing them as an insane, nearly 40-point favorite, especially after they went 4-5 ATS as a favorite a year ago.
Charlotte may not be in the same class of legitimate title contenders as the Cardinals, but for Louisville to win by 40, I believe the 49ers would basically have to lie down and quit from the opening kickoff. The Charlotte 49ers are the pick to get the ATS win in a losing effort.