BOZICH | Gardner ACC breakout star? Defending UK fans - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Gardner ACC breakout star? Defending UK fans

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Most pre-season predictions have Bobby Petrino's Louisville team finishing third in the ACC Atlantic Division. Most pre-season predictions have Bobby Petrino's Louisville team finishing third in the ACC Atlantic Division.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Ten days until the Miami-Louisville football game, eight days until Kentucky and Indiana start their 2014 seasons, seven days until Bowling Green visits Western Kentucky and only five days until the college football season begins.

No reason to fret. Not with five fresh college football nuggets to help you make it to next Wednesday.

*Can Louisville match up with Florida State in the ACC?

Bruce Feldman and Stewart Mandel, the new tag team at FoxSports.com, have delivered their ACC predictions – and they have put the Cardinals in the same spot you'll find Louisville in most pre-season outlooks. That would be third in the ACC Atlantic Division, behind Florida State and Clemson.

Mandel tosses some love toward U of L quarterback Will Gardner, naming him as the ACC breakout player of the year. And the duo picks the Miami-Louisville season opener on Sept. 1 as one of the Under-the-Radar games in the league (even though it's never been under the radar around here, considering it is U of L's first ACC football moment).

2. I've always considered Kentucky football fans vastly underrated.

They're passionate. They're patient. They're optimistic. And they've started to put more heat on the UK administration to build a winning program.

That's why I was surprised to read the post at SaturdayDownSouth.com that quoted a survey by Emory Sports Marketing Analytics that rated UK football fans 12th best in the Southeastern Conference, ahead of only Mississippi State and Missouri.

That's wrong.

Behind 11th place Vanderbilt?

That's silly.

Check the attendance numbers. I've covered at least a half-dozen UK-Vandy games in Nashville – and Kentucky fans usually fill more than a quarter of the stadium. I'm also not convinced Ole Miss should be ranked ninth, three spots ahead of Kentucky. The story gives an explanation for the rankings and says that all 14 SEC programs have great fan bases.

Yep. But I can't imagine a measurement that puts the Vandy fan base ahead of the Kentucky fan base.

The overall winner?

Not Alabama. The Crimson Tide were only fifth.

Not LSU. The Tigers are sixth.

It's Georgia, followed by Florida.

Emory is a fine institution, but it is based in Atlanta. Hmmmmm.

3. When Louisville defeated Miami, 36-9, in the Russell Athletic Bowl last December, Hurricanes' tailback Duke Johnson did not play.

A big deal?

You bet. Johnson averaged 6.3 yards per carry for the Hurricanes last season. Johnson ran for 184 yards against Georgia Tech and 168 against Wake Forest. He had a 97-yard game against Florida State. Many say he'll be the best back in the ACC this season.

Unless something crazy happens between today and Sept. 1, Johnson will play against the Cardinals this season. Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post covered the Hurricanes' pre-season training camp. He has written that Johnson might be better than ever, identifying him as one of the nation's top tailbacks.

4. I think I have this straight. First came the Big Ten Network. That was followed by the Longhorn Network, which was followed by the Pac-12 Network (which still is not available on DirecTV). The SEC Network joined the party last week

You know the next question:

What about an ACC Network?

David Teel of the Newport News Daily Press in Virginia asked Virginia Tech athletic director Mike Babcock about the ACC's television future. Babcock said he expected the league to make a decision within the next 18 months and that any launch of an ACC Network would likely be done in tandem with ESPN, similar to the SEC Network.

5. Poll results -- I've placed a number of polls on the WDRB.com website in the last 10 days. Here are the results:

*What is the toughest game on Louisville's 2014 football schedule?

1. Florida State 68 percent; 2. Clemson 17 percent; 3. Notre Dame 7 percent; 4. Miami 4 percent; 5. Kentucky 3 percent; 6. Other 1 percent.

*Patrick Towles will start the season as Kentucky's quarterback? Who will be the quarterback at the end of the season?

1. Towles 51 percent; 2. Drew Barker 26 percent; 3. Other, 14 percent; 4. Reese Phillips 9 percent.

*Will Charlie Strong's first Texas team finish the season ranked in the Top 25?

1. Yes, 62 percent; 2. No, 38 percent.

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