Football Looks to Continue Hot Streak from Last Season
It’s that time of year again. The ACC media day last week signaled the one thing that every Card fan wanted to hear: College Football is back. Well, not technically. Technically, NCAA Football doesn’t start for another month, but that still doesn’t stop fans from getting ready for the season; whether it’s buying a new Louisville jersey, camp stove, Louisville tent canopy, or season tickets for this upcoming, highly-touted season. It’s a season that most experts believe that the U of L Cards will finish in the top 25, with some predicting that we may possess the ability to challenge ACC powerhouse teams Clemson and Florida State.
And this team could very well represent the Atlantic Division in the ACC Championship game. In order for that to happen, though, a lot of things have to go right. For starters, the Cards would have to beat at least one of the two powerhouse teams, and have to have had a good showing in the other game. This team is capable of doing that very thing, though, with the high number of starters, both on the offensive side and defensive side, returning for this next season.
Game by Game breakdown:
Charlotte 49ers Thursday, Sept. 1st, 7:00pm, ESPN3 In the opening game of the season, the Louisville Cardinals usually play an FCS team for the first game, normally resulting in a W. This year, the Cardinals face a FBS team in week one, albeit a newer team. This really won’t be a test, but the Cardinals would have to do something incredibly wrong in order to lose this game. My prediction: W 45-14
@Syracuse Orange Friday, Sept. 9th, 8:00pm, ESPN2 This week starts ACC play, as the Cardinals travel up to the Carrier Dome to face the Orange in a Friday night game on ESPN. Of course, this will likely be similar to the last game played at PJCS. It was a route of the orange last year, in which they performed as bad as the appearance of their gaudy exercise bike on the sidelines, in which the student section let them know about it. My prediction: W 35-17
Florida State Seminoles Saturday, Sept. 17th, noon, ESPN This will be the first true test for the Cardinals Football team. Of course, the last matchup was on the road and Louisville was blown out 41-21 after leading at halftime. Of course, some of that loss could be attributed to growing pains for freshman QB Lamar Jackson and the young offensive line, which then went on a 6-1 record after that game. This game will see a much more experienced team, building on the number 18 defense from last year, which ranked 13th against the rush. With returning LBs Keith Kelsey and Devonte Fields, as well as DeAngelo Brown filling in the gap left by Sheldon Rankins, this looks like a team that could stop Dalvin Cook and the rest of the Seminole’s offense. On the offensive side, The Cards bring back 10 starters, and look to build on their offense from last year, with co-offensive coordinator Lonnie Galloway, one of the nation’s top Wide Receiver coaches, hoping to bring in a passing game that could confuse the Pass defense of Florida State, which gave up under 200 yards a game. With it being at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, I do think that the Louisville Cardinals could do enough to be able to squeak by with a W for the first time since joining the ACC. My prediction: W 21-17
@ Marshall Thundering Herd Saturday, Sept. 24th, 8:00 pm, CBSSN\ This is the definition of a trap game. Going into Marshall on a Saturday night on national TV. Of course, Marshall doesn’t sound like a tough team to play, but the Herd has only lost one game in recent history at their home field. Of course this will be a tough matchup, but I think that the Cards will do just enough to squeak by the Herd. My prediction: W 35-31
@Clemson Tigers Saturday, Oct. 1st, TBA, TBA This will be one of the more intriguing matchups of this season. The Cardinals came within a touchdown of beating the Tigers last season early on in the season. But that was at home. During the Blackout game in front of a sell-out crowd of over 50,000 fans. The Cardinals don’t have that luxury. There’s a reason that Memorial Stadium is known as “Death Valley,” and it isn’t for the small crowd. Yes, there is a possibility of winning this game, as with every game on the schedule, but it’s very slight, with Clemson picked by the ACC Media polls and every large media site to win the ACC and go to the Playoff. My prediction: L 35-24
Duke Blue Devils Friday, Oct. 14th, 7:00 pm, ESPN In the first week back from their first bye game, The Cards take on the Blue Devils in what is the football version of the classic rivalry. But this matchup won’t feature Coach K and Rick Pitino, but instead will feature a matchup between divisions, as the Cards take on the Blue Devils, which finished 7-5 last season, 36th overall in offense last season and 60th in defense. Of course, the Blue Devils are ranked 35th in the AP poll, while the Cards, which posted the number 18 defense, was ranked 36th in the coaches poll. Of course, the Blue Devils are slated to finish fourth in the coastal, which is why the Cardinals will ultimately win this game My prediction: W 35-24
NC State Wolfpack Saturday, Oct. 22, TBA, TBA In this divisional matchup between the Cards and the Pack, it will be a rematch of last year in which the Cardinals beat NC State 20-13 in a torrential downpour. Of course this was the Cards 2nd win of the season in week 5, against the stiff defense of the Wolfpack. The defense of NC State is what will keep it fourth in the Atlantic, but it won’t be helped after facing the Cardinals in the Ville. My prediction: W 24-14
@ Virginia Cavaliers Saturday, Oct. 29th, TBA, TBA This matchup is similar to that against the Kentucky Wildcats, in which we would lose in basketball but win in football. Virginia is picked to finish last in the Coastal division, and this shouldn’t change later on in the season. In Basketball, however, the Cards have some work to do. My prediction: W 45-27
@ Boston College Eagles Saturday, Nov. 5th, TBA, TBA The Eagles are a better team than what they were last year. Of course, they were the most confusing team maybe in the history of football. If it was a game based on just purely defense, Boston College would definitely take down Alabama in the National Championship. However, there is a little thing called scoring that the Eagles have never heard of last year. They ranked 127th overall in it in 2015. However, they have stolen former Kentucky QB Patrick Towles, who should help improve the passing game tremendously. (And he had stated that he is excited to play Louisville, the team that he didn’t start against that kept them from going to a Bowl game, yet again) My prediction: W 21-17
Wake Forest Demon Deacons Saturday, Nov. 12th, TBA, TBA If anyone reading took Chemistry 101, then they should know what the definition of a polar molecule is, and this is the Hydrochloric acid of the schedule (BC was even more polar, like Hydrofluoric acid, which is so electronegative, it never dissociates in water 100%) Last year, the Deacons had the 38th best defense in the nation, but ranked 114th in offense. If you hope to win ball games, you have to score some points. My prediction: W 35-10
@ Houston Cougars Thursday, Nov. 17th, 8:00pm, ESPN This is an interesting matchup. Of course, the Cardinals played against the Cougars last season and lost 34-31 in a surprise that almost no one saw coming. Of course, Houston would go on to beat Florida State in the Peach Bowl (albeit FSU was on their third string QB), and finished 13-1 on the year. This matchup is more intriguing. This game may very well have playoff implications; due to the fact that Louisville needs to finish the year with 11 wins, along with losses for both Clemson and Florida State to even get into the ACC Championship, not even mentioning the Playoff. For Houston, it’s hard for a “Group of Five” program to make it into the playoff, due to the easier schedule of the AAC. Houston needs to win out, including a game against Oklahoma, in order to even make it into the discussion. Needless to say, this game is big. It will more than likely bring out the best of both teams, and will come down to who wants it more. Of course, this is not the same team that Houston beat last September; it’s more experienced, and has found its quarterback in Lamar Jackson. The defense is also one of the better in the nation, with a trio of linebackers that may very well be the best in college football. This game may very well come down to the wire. If this game was taking place at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, I would think it would be a definite win for the Cards, but it’s on the road. This makes things trickier, but I do believe, if the Cards remain healthy, that the more experienced offensive line will do just enough to protect Jackson, allow him to set up the option, and keep the defense guessing on what he’s going to do next. Just don’t expect it to look like the second half of the Kentucky game last year. My prediction: W 31-28
Kentucky Wildcats Saturday, Nov. 26th, 7:45 or 8pm, ABC or ESPN I feel like I don’t have to predict this matchup. At the end of the game, you’ll still hear “Just wait until Basketball season,” from the BBN after the game. My prediction: W 35-17
This will be a great season. Every single game this year is a winnable one, though I think that some are more winnable than others. Louisville’s Bowl hopes depend on whether the Cards win the ACC or not. The Champion is going to the Playoff. If the Cards were in the Coastal division, there would be no doubt in my mind that we’d be going to the championship, but that’s not the reality all of us live in. The ACC Atlantic is definitely the toughest division in the conference. They’ve sent a team to the playoff the past two years, and are poised to do it for a third. In order for that team to be Louisville, however, the Cards need to win either against Florida State or at Clemson, hope that team beats the other, and that the Cards win the rest of their games. However, with Clemson being the Media’s favorite to win the ACC, I do not see that happening. Still, the Louisville Cardinals will have a great enough year to become the second-best team skill-wise in the ACC, and will get rewarded for it come Bowl Season. It may not be the Playoff, but it will still be a highlight for the Louisville Football Program and will place Louisville on the pedestal with Clemson and Florida State as one of the football powerhouses of the ACC.
So while it may not technically be football season for another month, it’s still the reason that Cardinal Fans everywhere are out buying jerseys, camp stoves, and season tickets. And they have every excuse to.
For the games may have not started yet… But Football is Back!