LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Throw the flag at me. Throw a couple. Five yards for delay of game on Monday. Fifteen more for a second delay of game Tuesday. News got in the way of my countdown to the start of the 2014 college football season.
But now I'm back on track – seven items with seven days until the first game (Abilene Christian at Georgia State, Aug. 27).
1. I don't spend money for many college sports websites or apps. There's usually quality content here, there, everywhere.
Last week I made an exception for CollegeFootballMatrix, which is available on the iPad, with previews of the five major conferences as well as a special handicapping magazine.
I'm not going to share much of the material from the site. Dave Bartoo, its creator, wants you to invest in his product. I understand – and respect – that. Bartoo and his staff have built a creative and informative product.
But I will share some tidbits. CollegeFootballMatrix projects win totals – and point spreads – for every game for all the schools from the five power conferences.
What is the magazine's projected win total for Louisville?
That's less optimistic that most 2014 forecasts that I've found.
Breaking it down, Louisville is projected as the favorite over Miami (4 ½ points), Murray State (32), Virginia (10), FIU (21), Wake Forest (18 ½), Syracuse (4), North Carolina State (12 ½), Boston College (10 ½) and Kentucky (11 1/2)
The Cards will be underdogs in three games – Clemson (9), Florida State (18 ½) and Notre Dame (7).
Hmmm. That's 9 wins, 3 losses. Obviously, CFBMatrix expects one or two of those games to slip away from Bobby Petrino's team.
What's your projected win totals for the Cards, Wildcats, Hoosiers and Hilltoppers?
2. Is the University of Louisville football program becoming Second Chance U?
In addition to U of L coach Bobby Petrino, the Cards have added two players, Josh Harvey Clemons and Shaq Wiggins, who were asked to leave Georgia and then followed Todd Grantham, the Bulldogs' former defensive coordinator, to town.
3. Which college football coaches will see their programs make the biggest improvements this season?
These guys did: Gary Andersen of Wisconsin; Dave Doeren of North Carolina State; Brady Hoke of Michigan; Todd Monken of Souther Miss; Dan Mullen of Mississippi State; Will Muschamp of Florida and Gary Patterson of TCU.
4. College football is never simply about college football. College football is often about NFL football – and projecting which players, especially quarterbacks, will jump to the top of the NFL Draft boards.
Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com is ready to project which quarterbacks are about to endure the same endless over-analysis that Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater faced last season.
Here are the four QBs that Brugler said are likely to be taken in the top four picks – 1. Marcus Mariota of Oregon; 4. Jameis Winston of Florida State; 8. Brett Hundley of UCLA; 9. Connor Cook of Michigan State.
5. Len Dawson. Bob Griese. Mike Phipps. Gary Danielson. Jim Everett. Drew Brees. Danny Etling.
Tough job. Purdue, which lost its last 10 in 2013, opens against Western Michigan Aug. 30.
6. Nobody does lists like my friend and former teammate Pat Forde, who now works his magic at Yahoo! Sports. Forde started with the College Football Notebook back in the day. That morphed into the Forde-Yard Dash.
Naturally, I wondered if any games on the local calendar made the cut. Just two:
Florida State at Louisville, Oct. 30 checks in at No. 22
And Forde gives some love to Jeff Brohm and Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers are mentioned because they play at Marshall Nov. 28 – and the Thundering Herd might be primed to put an exclamation point on a 12-0 season.
One other note: Guess how many of the 25 games feature at least one SEC team?
7. Sports Illustrated is on board with the decision by Mark Stoops to name Patrick Towles as the Wildcats' starter against Tennessee-Martin on Aug. 30. In fact, Zac Ellis writes that Towles could be the answer for the Wildcats' struggling offense.