BOZICH | Believe Petrino, not Hocutt: Margin of victory matters - WDRB 41 Louisville News

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BOZICH | Believe Petrino, not Hocutt: Margin of victory matters in playoff

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Bobby Petrino's point that margin of victory matters was debated on ESPN Tuesday night. Bobby Petrino's point that margin of victory matters was debated on ESPN Tuesday night.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Louisville football coach Bobby Petrino believes margin of victory matters to the 12 dedicated folks who rank the best teams for the College Football Playoff Committee.

Kirby Hocutt, chairman of the committee, says that is not true.

Hocutt waved off Petrino over the weekend, and he did it again Tuesday night after Louisville was ranked sixth, up one spot, in the second batch of playoff rankings. The Cardinals need to bump past Ohio State (No. 5) and Washington (No. 4) to be where they want to be in late December.

“Louisville is a very talented football team,” Hocutt told Rece Davis of ESPN. “They’ve got an impressive resume sitting at number six this week.

“We do not incent margin of victory. It’s hard to define what a convincing win is in the game of football. There’s not a single definition.

“A 14-point win can be a convincing winning margin in a particular game. In other games a 28-point margin is a convincing win. We look at Louisville, they’re a strong team and have a very strong resume and have a convincing win against a very talented Florida State team.”

I believe Petrino.

I believe that Jim Harbaugh, Urban Meyer, Dabo Swinney and Chris Petersen side with Petrino, too.

So do you.

How do I know?

Easy. Check the scoreboards from last weekend. Swinney (Clemson) won 54-0. Harbaugh (Michigan) won 59-3. Meyer (Ohio State) won 62-3. Petersen (Washington) won 66-27.

Are those the scores of coaches who believe that margin of victory is about as important as the price of a foam finger?

No, they’re the scores of coaches who understand human nature. Margin of victory translates to credibility, recognition and talking points.

My sermon is just beginning. What is Louisville’s signature moment in this college football season, the one that got people talking about the Cardinals having a legitimate chance to make the four-team playoff?

The victory over Florida State.

It wasn’t that the Cardinals scored 35 points. It wasn’t that they won by three touchdowns.

No, the talking point was Louisville 63, Florida State 20. The 43-point margin of victory mattered — as it should matter. Sorry, Mr. Hocutt, but a six-touchdown win tells me more about a team than a two-touchdown win.

That works both ways. Louisville’s smaller than expected wins over Duke (10 points) and Virginia (7 points) inspired skeptics to start questioning Bobby Petrino’s team. As they should have. Louisville needed to pop those teams, especially after the Cardinals lost to Clemson.

Petrino was savvy to ignite the conversation on the topic. He kept Louisville in the discussion. He earned the Cardinals a chunk of time on ESPN telecast (even though Davis also disagreed with him). 

Petrino is doing what a coach should do when his team is ranked sixth and needs help to overtake the five teams ranked ahead of them. He’s coaching.

The Cardinals need teams to lose, but until that happens better to try to create your path to overtake Ohio State (ranked fifth), Washington (fourth) or the three teams ahead of them (Alabama 1, Clemson 2, Michigan 3).

Louisville has the issues you’d expect a team to have when it has lost one game (Clemson), beaten only one team with a winning record (FSU) and survived a close call with Virginia. 

ESPN commentators Kirk Herbstreit and Danny Kannell praised the Cardinals Tuesday. Does that help? Maybe. Does it hurt? No.

The script improves over Louisville’s final three games. All three opponents — Wake Forest, Houston and Kentucky — have currently won more games than they have lost.

Louisville’s strength of schedule (No. 55, 13 spots worse than Ohio State but 12 spots tougher than Washington) should improve down the stretch.

Louisville should try to beat Wake Forrest, Houston and Kentucky the way the Cardinals beat Florida State, not the way they beat Duke or Virginia. That’s what I expect Petrino to do

Regardless of what Kirby Hocutt said Tuesday night.

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