UL tries to clinch bowl Thursday night at struggling Duke

NCAA Football

A Thursday night trip to nose-diving Duke is next up for the Louisville, which might not seem overly significant to outsiders, but don’t try telling that to the Cardinals.

Louisville’s past six opponents held winning records, and now they face a team that has lost six in a row. Yet Cardinals coach Scott Satterfield said it’s time to build on momentum after several hard-to-digest results.

“We have a lot riding on this game,” said Satterfield, who grew up about 15 miles from Duke’s Wallace Wade Stadium. “It’s an opportunity to get bowl eligible and that’s huge for our players.”

Louisville (5-5, 3-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) is coming off its most lopsided victory against a Football Bowl Subdivision team in four years with a 41-3 romp past visiting Syracuse. The Cardinals haven’t committed a turnover in their last two games.

It was an ideal recipe given the timing. Louisville now travels for a quick turnaround for a test against a program that hasn’t won a game in nearly two months.

“(It) was awesome to be able to relax in the second half and play a lot of players,” Satterfield said. “That is one thing we haven’t been able to do. We played a lot of players but now we got to play a lot of players – unload the bench so to speak on those last two drives.”

There’s a good vibe for the Cardinals despite the busy few days going into the Duke game.

“A win like this helps the mental part of it,” Satterfield said.

Duke (3-7, 0-6) will miss out on a bowl game for the third consecutive season.

“We’ve got to put ourselves into position to be successful regardless of what anybody thinks or says or does, it doesn’t matter,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “It’s all whatever is inside of us and we have to find the very best part of us.”

Riley Leonard became the first true freshman to start at quarterback for Duke in 15 years in Saturday’s 48-17 loss at Virginia Tech. But he didn’t finish because Jordan Moore was summoned for much of the second half, throwing for a touchdown and rushing for a score.

That leaves a question at quarterback for the Blue Devils, particularly if first-stringer Gunnar Holmberg remains out with an injury.

“We’ve got to find the mix of where we are,” Cutcliffe said, noting that he felt Leonard had been shaken up a bit and wasn’t throwing the ball like he normally does.

Holmberg, who was injured Nov. 6 vs. Pittsburgh, was closer to being ready for the Virginia Tech game than anticipated, Cutcliffe said.

“We’re all rooting for each other’s success,” Moore said, “so when it is our turn to go, we give our best.”

Louisville should have no questions about the quarterback spot. Malik Cunningham has been stellar at times and he ought to be filled with bravado after throwing for four touchdowns and running for another in the Syracuse game.

“That is definitely a confidence booster going into Thursday’s game against Duke,” Cunningham said.

If Louisville fails to reach the six-win mark this week, its final chance would be in the regular-season finale at home against rival Kentucky.

–Field Level Media

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