LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — ESPN's Brett McMurphy is reporting that the University of Louisville football team will open the 2018 season against Alabama in Orlando, Fla.

Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino hinted at a big opener in Orlando at ACC media days two weeks ago, but would not disclose the opponent.

Alabama is in the midst of some high-profile openers at neutral sites. The Crimson Tide will open against Wisconsin on Sept. 5 in Dallas this year, and will face USC there in the 2016 opener and Florida State in Atlanta in 2017.

U of L’s game against Alabama is scheduled for Sept. 1, 2018.

Petrino said having a high-profile opponent like Auburn in this season’s opener has benefitted the program through the entire offseason.

“A lot of those kids on our team and who play real well for us are from Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and they’re very aware of Auburn and the players Auburn has,” he said. “It motivates us to work hard, to be in the weight room, Saturday mornings in the offseason are optional and volunteer basis and we have more kids than we’ve ever had coming in on Saturday mornings. We try to give it a fancy name, call it The Gun Club so they can come in and work on their guns and look good. But really they’re doing more than that. We’ve had a great response.”

Petrino said the program would continue to schedule aggressively in the non-conference, and this move backs that up.

“We’re going to play a good non-conference schedule,” he said. “If you look at what our goal is — to play for a national championship — then I think you’re going to have to enough good non-conference games and go to the ACC Championship game and win that to get a spot in the National Championship Playoffs. So that’s what we’re going to continue to do. That’s going to be our philosophy, to open with a big game most every year. I don’t know who we open with a year from now, but down the road we’ve got a game in Indianapolis and I think we’re going to announce another one coming up here soon in Orlando. So we’re going to continue to try to play a real good opening schedule.”

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