Wake Forest, Louisville square off as two of ACC’s hottest teams

NCAA Football

Louisville visits No. 24 Wake Forest on Saturday in a meeting between two of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s hottest teams.

The Cardinals (3-1, 1-0 ACC) are coming off their third straight victory, a 31-23 decision at Florida State. Louisville is seeking to improve to 4-1 for the first time in four years.

The undefeated Demon Deacons (4-0, 2-0) scored on their first seven possessions last week when they earned a 37-17 road triumph against Virginia.

Wake Forest notched six sacks and forced the Cavaliers into committing two turnovers (a fumble and an interception) to make it 11 takeaways overall and a plus-seven turnover margin this season.

“They’re where they are supposed to be,” Louisville coach Scott Satterfield said of the Deacons’ defensive players. “They’re playing hard up front. Everything starts in the trenches.

“They’re making the quarterback throw the ball when he doesn’t want to. When that happens, then sometimes those turnovers are going to happen.”

Wake Forest linebacker Luke Masterson has a team-high 27 tackles (18 solo) after moving from safety.

“Luke’s an excellent football player. We’ve wanted to move him there for two years,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. “We moved him there during the Florida State game a few years ago and he had 18 tackles. We just could never stay healthy at safety.”

Defensive end Luiji Vilain has 2.5 sacks for a unit yielding 357.8 yards per game.

Offensively, Wake Forest is led by quarterback Sam Hartman, who has completed 74 of 112 passes (66.1 percent) for 961 yards, nine touchdowns and one interception.

Hartman has thrown at least one scoring pass in eight straight games.

Satterfield would like to enjoy a Saturday without seeing one of his key players suffer a season-ending injury. Linebacker Monty Montgomery (torn ACL vs. UCF on Sept. 17) and wide receiver/punt returner Braden Smith (torn knee ligaments vs. Florida State) were lost for the year the past two weeks.

“That’s two players in back-to-back weeks for us, key contributors — one on offense, one on defense. I hate it,” Satterfield told media members Monday. ‘That’s the awful part of this game we have to deal with on a week-to-week basis.”

Quarterback Malik Cunningham uses his arm and legs to fuel the Cardinals offense. Cunningham has completed 62 percent (85 of 137) for 998 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions. He also leads the team in rushing with 263 yards on 56 carries (4.7 yards per carry) with eight TDs.

“(Cunningham) is very good and he’s mobile,” Wake Forest defensive back Coby Davis said during a video conference. “We just have to do a good job containing him.”

Outside linebacker Jack Fagot leads a Louisville defense that notched six sacks against Florida State. The Cardinals are allowing 418.2 yards and 26 points per game.

Louisville won the last two meetings and leads the all-time series 6-2.

–Field Level Media

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