BOZICH | Five reasons Louisville needs to beat Texas A&M in the - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Five reasons Louisville needs to beat Texas A&M in the Music City Bowl

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Bobby Petrino knows that Louisville's bowl game with Texas A&M is also the first game of the 2016 season. Bobby Petrino knows that Louisville's bowl game with Texas A&M is also the first game of the 2016 season.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – You’ve heard the reasons coaches and players say winning a bowl game is essential.

Send the seniors out with a win. Take advantage of those extra practices. Give yourself another chip to sell to recruits.

You’ve heard them all. Now hear this:

Five Reasons Louisville Needs to Beat Texas A&M in the Music City Bowl Wednesday night in Nashville.

1. The Cards Could Use A Signature Win

Texas A&M isn’t Alabama. The Aggies are not Ole Miss. Heck, they aren’t even Arkansas or Louisiana State.

A&M finished tied for fifth in the West Division of the Southeastern Conference.

But the Cards haven’t beaten any eight-win teams this season. Kevin Sumlin’s team is 8-4. A&M was ranked as high as ninth in the Associated Press writers’ Top 25 poll during the seventh week of the season. The Aggie were also ranked 19th when the first college football playoff rankings were released. They were somebody.

In fact, A&M is still ranked 32nd nationally in Jeff Sagarin’s latest predictor computer rankings. According to Sagarin, Louisville’s best win came against (7-5) North Carolina State, which is ranked 35th.

Besides, Louisville is favored by 5 points. The wise guys expect Bobby Petrino’s team to win. You don't want to lose when you're favored by 5 and the other team is playing .... well, I'll get to that.

2. It’s The First Game of 2016, Not the Last Game of 2015

Petrino said it last week, but it should be repeated. This isn’t merely the final game of the 2015 season. It’s the first game of the 2016 season.

As Petrino noted, pre-season rankings are based on two factors – number of returning starters as well as how a team performs in its bowl game.

Louisville will have nearly all of its signature players back on offense as well as a solid group on defense, although four underclassmen are considering a jump to the NFL.

The Cards will qualify for Top 25 consideration in the returning talent category. What they need is bowl game success.

The record shows that in each of the last two seasons 17 teams included in the AP Top 25 pre-season poll won a bowl game.

Notre Dame won the Music City Bowl last season. The Fighting Irish were ranked 11th in the first AP poll last August. Ole Miss won the Music City Bowl two years ago. The Rebels were ranked 18th in the AP pre-season poll in 2014.

3. Johnny Manziel Ain’t Walking Through That door

Jake Hubenak will start at quarterback for the Aggies.

Who-be-what?

There must be some mistake.

In the last three seasons, Texas A&M has signed three 4-star and one 5-star recruit at quarterback.

The star system has not worked in College Station.

The Aggies’ starter against Louisville will be Hubenak, a former walk-on at Oklahoma State who played at Blinn Junior College last season.

Blinn completed 12 of 27 passes this season for 92 yards and one touchdown. He has not completed a pass since Nov. 7 and his longest completion went for 20 yards.

In other words, he’s a dinker. Expect the Aggies to run the football.

A&M is the place where Manziel won the Heisman Trophy. You don’t get many chances to beat Jake Hubenak in a bowl game. You’d better take advantage.

4. The Cards Have That Winning Feeling

Louisville finished the regular season with gusto, punishing Kentucky over the final three quarters of a 38-24 victory. It was Louisville’s fifth win in its last six games.

After averaging only 21.4 points per game against their first seven FBS opponents, the Cardinals averaged nearly 38 in their final four games.

The offensive line knocked more people down. Jamari Staples gave the quarterbacks a large, dependable receiver. Brandon Radcliff started running like Brandon Radcliff. Lamar Jackson looked like Vince Young against Kentucky.

The Cards need another dynamic offensive showing against a team with a winning record and a talented defense to confirm the improvement was real.

5. ACC/SEC BRAGGING RIGHTS

Nashville is Southeastern Conference territory. Texas A&M is an SEC team. The SEC marketing and media folks have convinced America that their programs play college football harder and better than any other league.

Louisville has a chance to stiff arm the SEC Dominance storyline. Remember how much juice the program earned when the Cardinals punished Florida in the Sugar Bowl after the 2012 season? Or the momentum Louisville kicked up by smacking Alabama in the Fiesta Bowl back in 1990?

Louisville played another SEC team last season – and the Cardinals were overpowered by Georgia in the Belk Bowl.

There’s only one other ACC-SEC bowl matchup on the 2015 bowl calendar. North Carolina State is a 6–point underdog against Mississippi State in the Belk Bowl, which will kick off at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Louisville can stop the ACC from being shutout by the league that regularly gets to brag about its bowl dominance. Otherwise there will be "S-E-C,S-E-C," chants in Nissan Stadium Wednesday night.

Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.

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