BOZICH | More difficult non-league schedule: Louisville or Kentu - WDRB 41 Louisville News

  • Which team plays a more difficult non-conference schedule: Kentucky or Louisville?

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    UK -- Southern Miss, NM State, Austin Peay, U of L
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    57 votes
    U of L -- Charlotte, Marshall, Houston, UK
    89%
    451 votes

BOZICH | More difficult non-league schedule: Louisville or Kentucky?

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Which program faces a more difficult non-conference schedule: Louisville or Kentucky? Which program faces a more difficult non-conference schedule: Louisville or Kentucky?

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Former University of Kentucky quarterback Freddie Maggard sees danger in Kentucky’s first non-conference football game. As usual, Maggard is looking downfield with clarity.

The Wildcats open against Southern Miss on Sept. 3.

Brett Favre University won nine games last season, and the Golden Eagles are the pick to win the West Division of Conference USA.

Their quarterback, Nick Mullens, threw for nearly 4,500 yards and 38 touchdowns. They return a back who ran for 1,100 yards, an essential part of a team college football analyst Phil Steele has ranked the 16th most experienced team in the nation this season.

No wonder the Wildcats are only favored by a seven points for a game that will be played in Commonwealth Stadium. That won't be a stroll into the sunshine for Mark Stoops.

If UK is playing one of the best teams in Conference USA, Louisville will open against the worst.

That would be Charlotte.

The 49ers beat Georgia State and Presbyterian last year before losing their next 10 games during their first season of FBS competition. They were outscored by 170 points in eight C-USA games – and lost by 48 at Kentucky.

No wonder Louisville has held as a 39 ½-point favorite for the Cards’ home opener against Charlotte on Sept. 1. It looks like a game when Bobby Petrino's team should score 50, 60, 70.

The script flips after that. Louisville will face three non-conference games that will not be putts in the leather. Kentucky will face one – the season-ending trip to U of L.

Louisville has scheduled like a program that understands strength of schedule matters. As it should.

Kentucky has schedule like a program trying to wiggle its way to bowl eligibility – six victories. As it should.

For the Cards, that means trips to Marshall and Houston as well as hosting the Governor’s Cup fun with Kentucky on Nov. 26.

For the Wildcats, that means home games against New Mexico State and Austin Peay as well as the November trip to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

Marshall won 10 games, including a bowl (against UConn) last season. The Thundering Herd has won 20 of its last 21 home games. A Saturday night trip to Huntington, W.Va., is rarely a guaranteed party.

Houston won 13 times, including a bowl (over Florida State) last season. The Cougars are the pick to win the American Athletic Conference with a coach (Tom Herman) that many expect to be working at Texas A&M or Texas next season. The Cougars are trying to play their way into an invitation to join the Big 12. That should be a national TV game for the Cards.

Then U of L gets UK.

As for the Wildcats, there are 128 FBS programs. Phil Steele’s power ratings for the 2016 season show four teams are predicted to be worse than New Mexico State, the squad that visits Commonwealth Stadium on Sept. 17. The Aggies gave up 50 or more points in half their 12 games last season.

W.

Fly Williams would blush at how relentlessly Austin Peay struggles on the football field. The Governors have lost 16 straight, the last 13 by two touchdowns or more.

Austin Peay, an FCS program, will make New Mexico State look like the Green Bay Packers.

W.

If the Wildcats beat Southern Miss, they can become bowl eligible by winning three of these four – South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Missouri.

That’s not outrageous.

Combined 2015 record of Louisville four non-league opponents: 30-21 with two bowl wins.

Combined 2015 record of Kentucky’s four non-league opponents: 20-30, with one bowl victory.

Average final 2015 Sagarin rating of U of L’s four non-league opponents: 95.

Average final 2015 Sagarin rating of UK’s four non-league opponents: 127.

Kentucky faces the more formidable opener, but Louisville has a more formidable non-conference schedule.

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