BOZICH: The 10 Most Intriguing Games on the U of L, UK, IU and W - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH: The 10 Most Intriguing Games on the U of L, UK, IU and WKU football schedules

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The All-Star Game is over. The NBA Summer League is winding down. I know what you’re ready to discuss – and it’s not KnockerBall.

College football is dominating the local sports chatter – and we don’t have a local game for 45 days (Western Kentucky at Vanderbilt).

Southeastern Conference coaches flexed for their league in Birmingham last week. Atlantic Conference coaches are huddled in Pinehurst, N.C. today. Big Ten coaches take their seats in Chicago next week.

I’ve charted the summer and fall and identified the Ten Most Intriguing Games on the Louisville, Kentucky, Indiana and WKU schedules. Enjoy.
 

10. Houston at Louisville, Sept. 12 – Can a team play a trap game during its home opener?

You bet – especially if the game is booked a week after the Cardinals get Auburn in Atlanta and five days before Clemson makes its first trip to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Houston will be a motivational mystery for Bobby Petrino.

Can’t look back or ahead against a team that won eight games last season and is picked to win its division in the AAC with a splendid new coach, former Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman. Houston is no gimme, folks.

9. Louisiana Tech at Western Kentucky, Sept. 10 – Can’t call this a trap game because the Bulldogs blasted the Hilltoppers 59-10 last season, WKU’s worst loss in 2014.

But who could blame WKU if their early focus is on grabbing a winnable game at Vanderbilt and then another winnable game at Indiana?

Nobody. Except the Vandy and IU games are on the road – and Louisiana Tech splits those two road trips by visiting Bowling Green Sept. 10 for the WKU home opener.

Louisiana Tech won nine games last season, dominated Illinois in a bowl game and added Florida transfer Jeff Driskel at quarterback. It’s not your typical yawner for a home opener.

Beware.

8. Rutgers at Indiana, Oct. 17 – Who can Indiana expect to beat in the Big Ten East?

Ohio State? Michigan State? Michigan? No, no, no. Penn State? Once a decade.

Maybe Rutgers, especially with the Scarlet Knights booked for Bloomington.

Rutgers handled the Hoosiers (without quarterback Nate Sudfeld) by three touchdowns in Piscataway last season, but Chris Andrews, the guy who creates the figures at AgainstTheNumber.com, has IU listed as an early 5-point favorite with a 66 percent win probability in Memorial Stadium.

The Hoosiers can’t lose games like that if they expect to go bowling.

7. Kentucky at Mississippi State, Oct. 24 – I explained this one last week. Kentucky was within a touchdown of the Bulldogs deep in the fourth quarter last season and State is down 15 starters while the Wildcats are only down 10.

Yes, the game is booked for Starkville. Andrews puts UK’s win probability at 20 percent, making State the favorite by 11 ½. We’ll see. State faltered down the stretch, losing three of its last four. Call it my hunch game

6. Western Kentucky at Vandy, Sept. 3 – Jeff Brohm’s team is favored.

I’ll repeat that because it deserves more conversation: Andrews likes the Hilltoppers by 4 ½ points with a 65 percent win probability. Sure, the folks at VegasInsiders like Vandy by 1 ½ points, so grab the points if you love the Toppers and their ability to score like crazy. Vandy is back to being Vandy.

5. Indiana at Wake Forest, Sept. 26 – IU athletic director Fred Glass has worked to make the schedule more manageable. Getting Wake to replace Missouri or Virginia was one of his first moves.

Even with the game in Winston-Salem, Kevin Wilson in his fifth season needs to handle Dave Clawson in his second season. Andrews says the Hoosiers can do that, favoring Indiana by six with a 70 percent win probability.

The Hoosiers usually have only two or three wins on their Big Ten schedule. They can’t afford to burp games like this -- as they have the last two seasons.

4. Florida at Kentucky, Sept. 19 – Andrews doesn’t like the Wildcats in this one, but I do. He puts their win probability at 35 percent and has the Gators favored by 4 ½.

I like the Wildcats because Florida is adjusting to a new coach and dealing with uncertainty at quarterback. Kentucky, meanwhile, is a veteran group that is still steaming over the game that Florida stole from UK in triple overtime in Gainesville. I’ll take my chances in a streak-buster.

3. Louisville at North Carolina State, Oct. 3 – This one could decide which team finishes third in the Atlantic Division and which one finishes fourth, behind Florida State and Clemson.

Louisville beat N.C. State, 30-18, last season, but were only up five points in the final minute. State finished strong, winning four of its last five, including a bowl victory over UCF. The Wolfpack also return 14 starters, including Jacoby Brissett, their dangerous quarterback.

Beware. Against the Number calls the game Pick ‘em.

2. Western Kentucky at Indiana, Sept. 19 – The Hilltoppers can really pass. The Hoosiers really cannot defend the pass – and are already without Antonio Allen, their best safety.

This is a great opportunity for WKU to start its season with one win against an SEC team and another against a Big Ten opponent. It couldn’t get any better for Jeff Brohm and his guys – unless they win at Louisiana State in late October.

For Indiana, non-conference wins are nearly non-negotiable, especially with the Hoosiers starting Big Ten play against Ohio State and Penn State.

1. Louisville at Kentucky, Nov. 28 – This one has to be on the list. You know the reasons. Louisville has won four straight. Neither team has won five in a row since Howard Schnellenberger and Bill Curry resumed the series.

Kentucky believes it should have won last season. The Wildcats could easily need the victory for bowl eligibility. The Cards don’t want to shoved into the background in their own state.

Andrews likes Kentucky by a 1, putting the Wildcats win probability at 53 percent.

Play ball.

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