LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — As I mentioned Saturday before the University of Louisville football team crackled to Number 3 in the latest Associated Press college football poll, everything is in play for the Cardinals, Bobby Petrino and Lamar Jackson.


Use your imagination.

That’s a dangerous clearance to give somebody writing a column. But it’s one I’ll eagerly accept in the Monday Muse.

1. ACC Schedule Tilts Toward the Cardinals

Before the season, I was convinced Louisville’s visit to Marshall Saturday qualified as The Trappiest Trap Game on the Cardinals’ Schedule.

After Florida State. Before Clemson. 

Post-game letdown. Pre-game look ahead.

Marshall was picked (by some) to win Conference USA. The Thundering Herd had won 20 of their last 21 home games. Marshall has beaten the Cards four straight, including once in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium (2011).

Blah, blah, blah.

Then Louisville beat Florida State like Huntington Tech and the Thundering Herd delivered a bucket of blah while losing at home to Akron by 27 points Saturday.

Randy Moss and Chad Pennington aren’t walking through that door Saturday night at Marshall. I’ll take the 15-yard penalty and look ahead. Make it a 30-yard penalty because I’m looking far, far ahead.

The ACC Atlantic Division is likely still a three-team scrum, matching U of L, Florida State and Clemson. The Cards head to Clemson Oct. 1. Clemson visits FSU on Oct. 29. No homefield edge there.

Let’s say everybody holds serve at home. Which team is most likely to lose another conference game?

That would be Clemson. The Tigers visit unbeaten Georgia Tech Thursday night, and they have struggled mightily with the Yellow Jackets, losing three of their last four and four of their last six against Paul Johnson’s option attack. Tech has averaged 43 points in the four wins.

Clemson’s second Atlantic Division game is with Pitt, which beat Penn State and just lost at the wire at Oklahoma State. Pitt’s not great, but Pitt’s not automatic.

Who has the second toughest ACC schedule?

That would be FSU. The Seminoles play the two teams most likely to win the Atlantic Division — North Carolina at home and unbeaten Miami (with Mark Richt) on the road.

Who does that leave … Louisville gets Duke (1-2 with a loss to Wake Forest) at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and Virginia (0-3, with a home loss to Richmond).

Advantage, Cardinals.

2. Petrino vs. Meyer

Pat Forde knows more about college football than anybody who worked the press box Saturday. His Forde-Yard Dash is essential reading for any college football fan. 

Forde has expanded his brand to include a playoff projection every Sunday afternoon. After watching the Cardinals dominate FSU Saturday, Forde moved Louisville into his playoff Fab Four — with Alabama, Ohio State and Houston. (The link.)

Louisville vs. Ohio State and Urban Meyer in Phoenix with Alabama playing Houston in Atlanta. Those are his two semifinal games.

While you check the prices for flights to Arizona, I’l check Bobby Petrino’s record against Urban Meyer.

They played during Petrino’s first two seasons at Arkansas.

Losses by 31 and 3.

The first defeat was to the Tim Tebow national championship team in Fayetteville, one week after the Gators stumbled against Ole Miss and Tebow vowed Florida would not lose again.

The rematch came in Gainesville. The Razorbacks led 20-13 midway through the fourth quarter but lost on a field goal with nine seconds to play.

Hey, Petrino struggled during his first two cracks at Jimbo Fisher, I believe.

3. Petrino vs. Saban

The Bobby Petrino vs. Nick Saban matchups were compelling sports talk fodder during Petrino’s four-season run at Arkansas. Every newcomer who joins the SEC West is eventually measured by how he performs against The Snarlfather.

Like most guys (especially ones with inferior talent, depth and tradition), Petrino did not fare well.

Four games. Four defeats. 

Losses by 35, 28, 4 and 24 points for an average margin of defeat of 22.8.

For the record, Saban had the higher ranked team in all four games and his 2009 and 2011 teams won the BCS championships.

4. Cards are Number One

I’ve advised you several times to visit masseyratings.com. It’s one-stop shopping to check nearly every rating available for college football teams.

Massey has credibility in the game. The Massey Ratings were one of six computer power numbers included in the Bowl Championship Series formula for many seasons.

Massey has tracked the ratings from 41 polls. This is the breakdown of programs that are voted Number One by at least one group or formula on Monday.

Alabama — 26 polls or ratings.

Ohio State — 13.

Clemson — 1.

Louisville —1.

I’m not talking about the Kirkpatrick or the Baker Bradley-Terry ratings. The Cards are listed first in ESPN’s FPI index. They are projected to win 11.6 games.

They are also given 57.7 percent chance to win the ACC title, considerably ahead of Clemson 17.8, Florida State 1.9, North Carolina 6.6 or Miami 10.5

Stop daydreaming. Get back to work. It’s Week Four.

5. Charlie, Charlie, Charlie

Just when you thought that beating Notre Dame and fixing the Texas offense would give former Louisville coach Charlie Strong the opportunity to exhale in Austin, California happened to the Longhorns.

Texas went to Berkeley and gave up 50 points to the Bears, including 15 in the fourth quarter. It gets worse. The winning touchdown pass was thrown by a quarterback from Dallas with 3:41 to play.

Charlie Strong’s calling card has always been defense. Give Charlie 10-7 over 45-42 any day.

After three weeks, Texas ranks 70th nationally in total defense, allowing more than 386 yards per game. The Longhorns’ big win against Notre Dame doesn’t look as sensational as it did before the Irish lost at home to Michigan State Saturday.

After a week off, Texas visits Oklahoma State and then gets struggling Oklahoma.

Better win one, Coach Strong.

Or more.

6. Shuffled Poll

I believe that I mentioned we are three weeks into the college football season. Strange things have only begun to happen.

But it’s time to consider how many pre-season Top 25 teams are already MIA.

The answer is eight.

Notre Dame. Started 10th, currently 33rd. Two losses. Massive grumbling about the ND defense.

TCU. Started 13th, currently 26th. People are saying the Big 12 will whiff on a playoff participant again.

UCLA. Started 16th, currently 28th. Ugh. With the best quarterback in the game?

Iowa. Started 17th, currently 30th. More years for Kirk Ferentz?

USC. Started 20th, currently receiving no votes. More games for Clay Helton?

Oklahoma State. Started 21st, currently 31st. Not a fan.

North Carolina. Started 22nd, currently 36th. Beating Illinois and James Madison doesn’t prove much.

Oregon. Started 24th, currently 34th. The uniform gimmick isn’t quite so entertaining when you lose.

The newbies? Try Texas A&M (10), Wisconsin (11), Miami (15), Arkansas (17), Nebraska (20), Texas (21), San Diego State (22) and Utah (24).

Good seats are still available in the Top 25.

7. Lamar Has Work To Do

Believe it or not, Lamar Jackson still has some work to do in the national college football statistics.

Despite his thunderous performances against Charlotte, Syracuse and Florida State, Jackson does not lead the nation in scoring.

Does not.

The leader is halfback Kalen Ballage of Arizona State.

Ballage has matched Jackson touchdown for touchdown, earning eight of his 10 in Arizona State’s 68-55 victory over Texas Tech.

But Ballage has also tacked a two-point conversion to his resume.

No other player in the country has scored more than seven touchdowns.

For the record, Jackson has more touchdowns than 52 teams, including teams (Syracuse, Auburn, Vanderbilt, Utah) that have also played three games.

8.Wildcats, Hoosiers, Hilltoppers

Louisville is not only the talk just at the Monday Muse. The Cards were featured in stories at Yahoo! Sports, The Washington Post, USA Today, ESPN.com, Bleacher Report and many other outlets over the weekend. With Lamar Jackson at the front of the Heisman hype and Louisville booked for a game at Clemson next week, the hurricane of hype will only escalate.

But there is also room for discussion of Kentucky, Indiana and Western Kentucky because there is an interesting dynamic between what Jeff Sagarin’s power rating predictor numbers say and the current point spreads at VegasInsiders, especially with UK.

Sagarin’s formula likes the Gamecocks by 4.06 points over UK. The Wildcats are the pick by 2 1/2 points in Las Vegas.

Sagarin says Indiana by 6.6 over unbeaten Wake Forest. Vegas says make it 7.

Sagarin likes Jeff Brohm’s WKU team by 5.87 over Vanderbilt in Bowling Green. The number has jumped to 7 1/2 in Vegas.

South Carolina is a wonderful opportunity for Kentucky to get well. The Gamecocks have huffed and puffed to five touchdowns in three games. They rank last in the Southeastern Conference in rushing at 90.67 yards per game. Opponents have averaged 243 yards rushing against Mark Stoops’ defensive front.

The SEC’s worst running game against the SEC’s worst rushing defense.

Gotta win that one, Coach Stoops. Gotta.

9. Hajj Turner’s Big Shot?

Keep an eye on the developing basketball coaching situation at George Washington University. If you missed the weekend news, GW fired head coach Mike Lonergan after an investigation alleged that he used abusive language with his players, including offensive remarks about his athletic director.

Practice is two weeks away. It won’t be easy for GW to recruit a replacement, although Larry Brown is always one phone call away.

The most likely candidate to serve as the interim coach is former University of Louisville player Hajj Turner, the team’s associate head coach. Turner started his U of L career with Denny Crum and finished it under Rick Pitino in 2002.

A picture of Turner working out with the GW players was posted on Instagram over the weekend.

10. What’s your pick for the Florida State-Louisville game?

Only a third of you can say you even had a hint that Louisville was going to win by seven touchdowns.

Louisville by six or less 44.8 percent

Louisville by more than six 34.7 percent

Florida State by six or less 10.3 percent

Florida State by more than six 10.1 percent.

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