Louisville football head coach Bobby Petrino looks on before playing the Kentucky Wildcats on November 25th, 2017. Louisville will find out which bowl they will play in Sunday, December 3rd. Photo by Seth Spalding, River City Cards
louisville finds out bowl game, opponent sunday, december 3rd
After thirteen turbulent weeks, the 2017 Louisville football regular season has concluded. Now, there's only one game left; whichever bowl the Cardinals will play in. While everyone has their idea of where The Cards will go, I foresee three potential bowls: the Belk, Sun, and Music City Bowl.
By record, the Cards are the fifth-best team in the ACC. Whichever team wins the ACC Championship will go to the College Football Playoff, while the runner-up will go to the Orange Bowl. That leaves Virginia Tech and NC State as two teams that will compete with The Cards for a higher bowl game.
Most likely: Sun Bowl vs Pac-12 December 29th, 2017 El Paso, TX
This is the bowl that most other college football writers are projecting Louisville to go to. This year, it is the second-highest non-New-Year's Six game the ACC is tied in with (Most likely, the highest will be the Music City Bowl). And while Louisville is the third-highest seed left after the CFP and NY6; NC State may elect to accept a bid to the Belk Bowl, in their home state of North Carolina.
The main storyline here will be the other conference. The Cards hardly ever play the Pac-12; the last matchup coming against Oregon State in 2010. So it will be unfamiliarity that will sell tickets to Louisville the most.
Honestly, I think this may be one of the worst bowl games that Louisville can go to. For starters, It's over a 21-hour drive, and a five hour flight that most fans will not even consider embarking on. The reason: It's the same day the Kentucky-Louisville men's basketball game falls on. Most fans will be focused primarily on Men's hoops in Lexington, glancing at the Sun Bowl score out of the corner of their eyes.
It may happen, may not: Belk Bowl vs. SEC December 29th, 2017 Charlotte, NC
I see this as the third-most likely. The reason I have it listed second, however, is because I have a lot to say about the next.
This game is a better option than the Sun Bowl. It's closer, so many fans will travel to watch The Cards play an SEC foe. The SEC is the ACC's regional rival, and there are a lot of rivalries between conferences. One potential opponent could be Texas A&M, a rematch of the 2015 Music City Bowl, where Lamar Jackson passed and rushed for over 200 yards each, and put away the Aggies. If the Cards play the Aggies, it will be the circle of life, in some respects. Lamar Jackson would face the team he first played in a bowl setting.
While this is better than the Sun Bowl, I think NC State will be what holds Louisville up. To the bowl organizers, it's the most profitable to invite a team from North Carolina, as the stadium will sell out, and, in turn, bring in the most revenue possible. While it's a arguably a lesser game than the Sun Bowl or Music City Bowl, NC State will want to play closer to home.
Coin Flip: Music City Bowl vs SEC December 29th, 2017 Nashville, TN
I saved the best for last. For the organizers and fans alike, this is the perfect game. Nashville is less than three hours away from Louisville, and was a great host to the Cards in 2015. That year, it felt like a home game.
A scenario that will never happen, but would be perfect, is if the SEC opponent was arch-rival Kentucky. With the UK-UofL basketball game falling on the same day, the entire state of Kentucky, and city of Nashville, would shut down, as fans without tickets to the basketball game would make the short trip to the Music City to watch their team play. Bars would be packed, stores would run out of party supplies, pizza places wouldn't be able to keep up; it would be the ultimate scenario.
For the bowl organizers, it would bring in much more money than any other matchup. Nissan Stadium would sell out within a day of tickets going on-sale.
Unfortunately, it's a dream that most likely won't come true. Arch-rivals rarely play in a bowl game. But fans will still travel the short distance to see their Heisman-winning quarterback play for probably one last time.
A few things would need to happen, for this scenario to occur. The first, is a Big-Ten team would need to play against the ACC in the Orange Bowl. This way, the Citrus Bowl is freed up for an ACC team to play. That would allow Virginia Tech to travel to Orlando, and free the spot up to the next ACC team. NC State will have to accept a bid to the Belk Bowl, and allow the next-best-team, Louisville, to fill the spot.
The past 13 weeks have been turbulent, but the Cards should play with momentum in whichever bowl they travel to. Louisville will find out which bowl they go to on Sunday, December 3rd.