BOZICH | College Football Notebook: Love for Petrino, Boom Williams, Sudfeld, WKU
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – If you're a fan of the local college football programs, how many victories will it require to satisfy you?
Think. Be honest.
A dozen? At least 10? Do I hear eight? How about if I pick six, the minimum required to play in a bowl game?
My guess is that six or seven victories would inspire a thunderous celebration in Lexington or Bloomington, but that total would result in frowns at the University of Louisville.
The answer could arrive during this college football season. That is one nugget I uncovered while collecting items for the College Football Notebook this week.
Let's buckle up and get to it
Andrews' projections are mixed for the local programs.
He set his number for the University of Louisville at seven regular-season victories.
The last time the Cardinals failed to win more than seven games in the regular season was 2011, when they finished 7-5 and then lost the Belk Bowl. Seven is bowl-worthy but I'm challenged to say anything spectacular about a seven-win season for Louisville. The Cards have outgrown seven wins.
Andrews bumped Kentucky to six wins. Ditto for Indiana. I suspect Kentucky fans would take six victories. I don't have to ask if IU fans would take a 6-6 season.
Western Kentucky was a more difficult call – seven or eight? Andrews settled on 7.5.
Who are the teams that Andrews expects to roll?
Ohio State, the defending national champions, leads the list with 11.
Wisconsin, Marshall, TCU, Baylor and Oregon are all placed at 10 wins.
Looking at Andrews' projections for other teams, it appears that he is picking the Cards to lose to Auburn, Clemson and Florida State.
The other two losses must be from this group of three road games – North Carolina State, Pittsburgh and Kentucky.
FOOTBALL MAGAZINES IN MAY? YOU BET
The football magazines are coming. The football magazines are coming.
The Sporting News has already released the covers from its 15 regional editions. (The link.) The magazine wasn't in local stores. I checked three spots.
No local players or teams made the cover cut. Six- or seven-win teams generally are not cover worthy.
Former Louisville assistant coach Jim McElwain got a piece of the cover in the Florida edition because he replaced Will Muschamp as the Gators' coach.
Ohio State halfback Ezekiel Elliott, star of the national championship game, rumbled on to a cover in a Midwest edition. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, Georgia running back Nick Chubb and Dalvin Cook of Florida State all earned some regional love.
But the locals were shut out.
Looking at the players The Sporting News has selected, it appears that Elliott, Chubb, Derrick Henry of Alabama, Leonard Fournette of Louisiana State, Connor Cook of Michigan State and Cody Kessler of USC are the early favorites for the 2015 Heisman Trophy.
WHO'S BETTER THAN PETRINO? JUST JIMBO
Some pre-season predictions are not calling for big things from the Louisville football team in 2015, but Bobby Petrino has retained the respect of the Athlon Sports Yearbooks staff.
Athlon ranked the football coaches in the Atlantic Coast Conference. One guy ranked ahead of Petrino. That would be Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, who won the 2013 national title and took his team to the four-team national playoff last season.
Athlon notes that Petrino has won at least eight games in nine of his 10 seasons as a college head coach. Maybe Athlon disagrees with the AgainstTheNumber 2015 projection.
Petrino finished ahead of David Cutcliffe, who has done remarkable work at Duke. The worst coach in the ACC?
I would have gone with Al Golden of Miami, but he finished eighth. The guy at the bottom of the list was Scott Shafer of Syracuse. I won't argue.
You'd better to be able to run the football to beat the best teams. Kentucky has been working on improving its running game during the Mark Stoops Era. The Wildcats ranked 79th nationally in rushing last season, averaging more than 153 yards per game.
The guys at Athlon believe that the UK running game will take another step forward this season. The reason?
Boom Williams, UK's sophomore halfback, is ranked the eighth-best back in the Southeastern Conference. In fact, Athlon wonders if Williams will be the SEC's next break-out star, noting that Williams only earned 10 or more carries in two games last season. He finished with 486 yards and five touchdowns.
Here is the link to the complete ranking, which is topped by two contenders for the Heisman Trophy – Chubb and Fournette.
INSIDE INDIANA'S OFFENSIVE REVIVAL
Offense was not a problem for Indiana in 2012 and 2013. The Hoosiers had one of the best attacks in the Big Ten.
Not last season. Although Tevin Coleman ran for more than 2,000 yards and convinced the Atlanta Falcons to draft him in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Indiana's passing attack flopped after quarterback Nate Sudfeld suffered a separation to his left arm in mid-season.
Coleman is gone. Sudfeld has returned. Better times are predicted for Indiana's offense.
After Coleman announced he was skipping his senior year, IU coach Kevin Wilson pursued Jordan Howard, a running back who gained nearly 1,600 yards at UAB last season. The Blazers folded their football program. Howard was eligible to transfer with immediate eligibility. A veteran offensive line and considerable playing time convinced Howard to make that move.
Athlon ranks Howard, a junior, as the fourth-best back in the Big Ten (the link).
Here is the more surprising news. In one of its first looks at the 2016 NFL Draft, Scout.com ranks Sudfeld as the third-best quarterback, behind only Christian Hackenberg of Penn State and Connor Cook of Michigan State.
“He's big, he's strong and has a quick release," said Jamie Newberg of Scout. "Scouts are falling in love with him." (The link.)
Sudfeld threw for 1,151 yards and six touchdowns in six games last season, struggling at times with IU's inexperienced receivers. With Cody Latimer and Ted Bolser starring on the 2013 squad, Sudfeld threw for 21 touchdowns and more for 2,500 yards
He's the best quarterback prospect at Indiana since Trent Green.
ONE MORE TOP 25
Sports Illustrated won't deliver its college football preview until August, which sounds like the perfect time for it, even if the trend is for pre-season magazines to arrive this month.
But the Internet beast must be fed on an hourly basis, so SI also delivered what it called its Too Early Top 25 this week. (The link.)
Louisville did not make the cut. Maybe that's another vote for seven wins.
Ohio State is number one. My guess is that one magazine will eventually step forward and pick against the Buckeyes, just so they can say that they picked against Urban Meyer's team.
According to SI, the three other playoff teams will be Baylor, Auburn and Alabama.
How many top 25 teams are booked on the local schedules?
Here is the rundown:
Louisville 3 – Auburn Number 3; Florida State No. 9 and Clemson No. 16.
Kentucky 3 – Auburn No. 3; Missouri No. 17 and Georgia No. 18.
Indiana 2 – Ohio State No. 1 and Michigan State No. 5.
Western Kentucky 1 – Louisiana State No. 24.
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