--By Mike Gilpatrick
--Photo by Seth Spalding
The Louisville Cardinals football team are heavy underdogs against Alabama on Sunday. The line is 25.5 points, well over three touchdowns and a field goal.
Despite this, Bobby Petrino has said that he believes Louisville can beat Alabama. Alabama coach Nick Saban also said that the Cardinals are “historically good.”
While this may be just hype for the game from both sides, everyone must wonder: does Louisville have a chance?
History says no. Not because Louisville is a bad team, but because Alabama is Alabama. The Crimson Tide seem like perennial national champions, and won the national championship last year. The Tide are 11-0 under Saban in season openers. Alabama is 8-0 in neutral-site locations. Alabama also hasn’t lost to an unranked team since 2007.
All of those stats are in the past.
Once you break down the roster, Louisville does have an advantage at wide receiver. At least with size. Alabama’s starting secondary all hover at around 6-1, or 6-2. Jaylen Smith, Seth Dawkins, and Dez Fitzpatrick are all at least 6-2. They also have experience. Most of the secondary haven’t started much last season.
Alabama also lost a key linebackers. Terrell Lewis had a torn ACL in July. The rest of the unit is strong, but Anfernee Jennings had injury concerns in 2017.
The Tide also lost nose tackle Da’Ron Payne, who was the tone-setter earlier in the season.
Louisville’s best shot is to try a few trick plays, and test the inexperienced secondary. If Louisville gets the lead, they can try to run up the middle and chew plenty of clock. What they can’t do, however, is try to come back from behind.
One other interesting note is that Saban recruited Jawon Pass to Alabama, before he chose Louisville. Pass will have time to pick and throw- Louisville has the best offensive line in years. They’ll need to be prepared for a heavy pass rush; as Louisville’s offense will mostly be from the air.
To also win, Louisville’s defense needs to hold up. While the Cards lost eight starters from last season, their current unit has some experience. Brian VanGorder also is an upgrade from Peter Sirmon last year.
It’ll have to be a vast upgrade over Sirmon in order to contend against Jalen Hurts or Tua Tagovailoa.
Bobby Petrino “Busted on them [Alabama]” when he was a coach at Arkansas. The closest matchup was in 2010, when Petrino came four points short against Alabama.
More than likely, the trend won’t change. There’s plenty of things that could go awry for Louisville. But despite this, the Cardinals will likely give them a challenge. Louisville will more than likely win the point spread, but not the game.
Something to note, however, is that Louisville is on a one-game winning streak against Alabama. They beat them 34-7 in 1991.
There’s a chance Louisville could beat them. But the Cardinals need to be perfect for it to come to fruition.