Louisville offensive lineman Jamon Brown says the Cards worry about perfection, not the imperfect schedule.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Here is a college football schedule that is more difficult to knock than the one the University of Louisville is playing:
Begin with a trip to Florida State, the nation's eighth-ranked team this Saturday. ESPN will televise. Follow that with a pair of softies – Virginia and Wake Forest. Then it's back to the top 10 – a home game against Clemson, still sitting third in the polls.
Finish with Syracuse and Boston College (home), Virginia Tech and North Carolina State (road).
Thought so. Two Top 10 teams. Another Top 40 team in the Hokies. Where do I sign?
That is the schedule that Maryland, unbeaten in four games, will play in the Atlantic Coast Conference to finish its season. The world will be watching the Terps at FSU this weekend, trying to determine if Maryland is legit.
Charlie Strong and his unbeaten U of L team ease into the ACC next season. The Cardinals will fill Maryland's spot. Too bad it didn't happen a year … oh, never mind.
The Cards had last weekend off. Strong loves college football. He said he saw some of the best games that Saturday offered – Georgia-Louisiana State, Alabama-Ole Miss and the rest of the list.
Strong admitted that he watched those games and started thinking what the rest of us are thinking:
Can Louisville play with those teams?
I believe they can, especially in a one-shot situation. I have the Cards in my top 10. But what do Strong and his players think?
"I think we have a good football team," Strong said. "If we play well on that day, we have a chance to go in and slug it out with those guys."
"If we ever get a chance to play those high-caliber teams we understand we can match up with them," said U of L defensive lineman Brandon Dunn. "You've got to respect the SEC, but with what we did in the Sugar Bowl, we have great confidence that we can play with those teams."
Saturday, also at noon, Louisville gets winless Temple. Maryland gets unbeaten Florida State.
How much sexier is the Maryland schedule?
The average Sagarin computer power rating of Maryland's final eight opponents is 55.6. The average for Louisville's final eight opponents in the American Athletic Conference is 86.4. Sagarin currently ranks the U of L schedule at 174.
Louisville is booked against one more team currently in Sagarin's top 25 – Central Florida (21). Cincinnati (43) is the Cards' only other top 50 opponent. Three of Louisville's final eight games are against teams that are not ranked in the Top 100 – starting with Temple, ranked 141 by Sagarin.
UCF had a chance to deliver against South Carolina Saturday. Didn't. Led. Lost.
"I was really rooting for Central Florida to pull it off," Dunn said.
That has been the story of The American. The league carries a 3-9 record against teams from leagues that are automatic qualifiers for the Bowl Championship Series.
The league has an overall losing record (18-19) in non-conference games – and that includes five wins against lower-level FCS teams.
As the season moves into October, The American has become as much of a drag on Louisville's dreams of moving into the national conversation as everybody feared that it would be.
No wonder that every time Strong and his players take questions at the program's weekly Monday session, they are asked about whether players and coaches become annoyed at the lack of challenges the schedule presents.
"People look at where we are and they look at the team that we have," Strong said. "They say, ‘OK, you guys have a good football team but you're not playing anybody.' I tell the team all the time that it's all about how we play. We can't worry about what anybody else says."
"I think we have a gauge on how good we can be," said U of L offensive tackle Jamon Brown. "We've had some pretty good games, but we haven't done everything perfect, which is something we strive for as an offense. We push for perfection."