LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Only 215 days have passed since the University of Louisville made it appear that the Miami Hurricanes had de-emphasized football in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

Officially, the teams played 60 minutes. Miami led for six minutes and five seconds. The Cards outgained the Hurricanes by 380 yards. Louisville won, 36-9. Seemed like 56-7.

Now comes the rematch, Sept. 1, Labor Day evening at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Give the Cards three extra points for playing at home.

But you’d better subtract the 27-point tilt in the scoreboard from Orlando. Las Vegas already has. And so have the nation's college football coaches.

In the strangest line of the opening weekend of the 2014 college football season, Louisville opened as a 2 ½-point favorite in Las Vegas. The number has inched forward to Cards by three.

In other words, if this game were also booked for Orlando it would be considered a toss-up. If the teams were playing in Miami, the Hurricanes would be favored by three – and I’m talking about a Miami team that expects a transfer from Kansas and two true freshmen to compete for the starting quarterback position when practice opens next week.

Get this: When the initial coaches' college football poll was released Thursday afternoon, Louisville was ranked 36th, two spots behind Miami. Five teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference -- Florida State, Clemson, North Carolina, Miami and Duke -- are ranked ahead of Louisville.

What’s going on here?

Is Charlie Strong worth that much more than Bobby Petrino?


Will the absence of Teddy Bridgewater ground the Cards’ offense?

Not with Petrino around.

Is it the seven missing pieces from the Louisville defense, including NFL first-rounders Marcus Smith and Calvin Pryor?

I think you’re on to something.

Is Miami that much better simply because the Hurricanes’ best running back, Duke Johnson, is back on the field?

Starting with Johnson is the best spot. Some argue that he is the best back in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the reason the Hurricanes were picked to win the Coastal Division.

Johnson missed the Russell Athletic Bowl. In fact, Johnson missed Miami’s last five games.

With Duke Johnson, Miami was 7-1. Without Duke Johnson, Miami was 2-3.

With Johnson, Miami averaged better than 198 yards per game rushing. Without Johnson, Miami averaged 100 yards per game.

The Hurricanes did not pack their running game for the trip to Orlando, finishing with 14 yards on 28 carries.

Duke Johnson is good enough to deliver 14 yards on any carry. There’s your starting point to explain why Louisville is only favored by three points.

Johnson told Susan Miller Degnan of the Miami Herald in this story that he was recently timed at a blazing 4.33 seconds in the 40-yard dash and then he backed up that performance with a 4.4 as well as a 4.44.

“I barely feel it,” Johnson said, talking about his broken ankle. “Sometimes I feel pain when I’m doing too much and have a long day – when I do more than one workout, when I go the extra mile after practice. It’s just tightness. Not really sharp pain. You get off it, ice it, heat it and stretch it out.”

Word is that Miami is optimistic that Jake Heaps, a transfer, will win the quarterback spot in August. How good is Heaps?

Miami is his third school. He was a big-name recruit who started at Brigham Young, played great as a freshman and then flopped as a sophomore. He lost the starting job and did what players today typically do when they lose the starting job.

He transferred – to play for quarterback guru Charlie Weis at Kansas.

Another flop. After sitting out in 2012, Heaps played in 11 games for Jayhawks last season. He completed 49 percent of his passes. That’s awful. He threw more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (8). That’s worse.

Now Heaps has reportedly thrown the ball well during summer workouts, and at least one Miami player has already talked a bit of trash – linebacker Denzel Perryman.

“Nobody likes to be embarrassed,” Perryman told the Miami Herald during ACC media days. “Just to start with them … is going to be great. It’s a rematch. I’m 0-1 against those guys. I ain’t going 0-2.”

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