BOZICH | Louisville football overlooked with N.C. State overrate - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Louisville football overlooked with N.C. State overrated in ACC?

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Picking North Carolina State to finish ahead of Louisville for third place in the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference has become a bit of a trendy pick in college football this summer.

ESPN’s College Football Preview magazine was the first publication that I noticed was leaning toward the Wolfpack.

ESPN ranked N.C. third, behind Clemson and Florida State, and the Cardinals fourth in the Atlantic. N.C. State was ranked 42nd overall, Louisville 44th. Not a huge gap.

What’s the reasoning?

The Wolfpack return 14 starters, double the Cardinals.

State’s quarterback is Jacoby Brissett, a talented transfer from Florida who ran and threw for more than 3,100 yards and 26 touchdowns last season. Bobby Petrino says that Louisville will have competition for quarterback.

N.C. State improved from 3-9 to 8-5 in its second season directed by coach Dave Doeren.

The Wolfpack finished last season with three consecutive victories, outscoring Wake Forest, North Carolina and UCF, 111-47.

Louisville handled N.C. State, 30-18, last season, but the 2015 game will be played in Raleigh on Oct. 3.

A strong dissenting voice was filed this week by Stewart Mandel of FoxSports.com. Mandel was one of the strongest and most outspoken critics nationally when U of L athletic director Tom Jurich picked Petrino as Charlie Strong’s replacement in 2014.

Mandel’s reasoning?

I’ll let him explain. This is what Mandel wrote as he answered e-mails in this post this week (the link):

“I dug a little deeper into the ACC after recording the podcast, and I have to say I agree with you. On the surface, it’s easy to get sucked in by NC State’s jump from 3-9 to 8-5 in Dave Doeren’s second season. I also confess my most vivid recollection of the Wolfpack last season was quarterback Jacoby Brissett lighting up Florida State in a game where they jumped to an early 24-7 lead only to lose 56-41. Brissett is the biggest reason for optimism surrounding NC State, not to mention another cupcake September slate (Troy, Eastern Kentucky, Old Dominion and South Alabama) assures that even a modestly improved team should win at least eight games. But there’s not much evidence yet that the Wolfpack are ready to jump much beyond that.

“The ACC Atlantic team we completely disregarded in that conversation, and which I’m starting to believe is one of the biggest sleepers nationally, is Louisville. Because most predictions are based on the simplistic “returning starters” stat, it’s easy to disregard the Cardinals, which technically return just seven. But that doesn’t do justice to Bobby Petrino’s “Transfer U” roster. Half his starting secondary will likely be former Georgia starters Shaq Wiggins and Josh Harvey-Clemons. Wayward ex-TCU star Devonte Fields, a former Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, joins the D-line. But most of all, look at Petrino’s track record with second-year teams. His 2004 Louisville team jumped from 9-4 to 11-1. His 2009 Arkansas team went from 5-7 to 8-5.

“It will be such a great feel-good story when “changed man” Petrino and his band of other teams’ disciplinary castoffs sneak up and win the division.”

Should make for an interesting Oct. 3 at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh.

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