BOZICH | Grading U of L, UK, IU, WKU football season & WDRB staf - WDRB 41 Louisville News

  • Which local college football team did the best job of exceeding expectations this season?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    Louisville
    7%
    62 votes
    Kentucky
    54%
    446 votes
    Indiana
    8%
    63 votes
    Western Kentucky
    31%
    262 votes

BOZICH | Grading U of L, UK, IU, WKU football season & WDRB staff picks

Posted: Updated:
What grades would you give U of L, UK, IU and WKU for the 2016 college football season? What grades would you give U of L, UK, IU and WKU for the 2016 college football season?

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Remember those college football magazines that you spent about $50 to throw in your backpack? The ones with Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffery on the covers?

Remember those empty days in July and August when you tried to forecast how your favorite team would perform this season?

It's time to distribute grades for how Louisville, Kentucky, Indiana and Western Kentucky performed in 2016 -- and how well the WDRB staff finish in its pre-season predictions.

I graded the four local teams and dug up the pre-season forecasts from our sports team.

Makes for an interesting (Cyber) Monday Muse -- and you don't even have to get out your credit card. Enjoy.

1. Louisville Report Card

That was, well, you can fill in the blank -- and try to avoid using expletives. Exhilarating and then deflating. Amazing and then puzzling. Inspiring and then exhausting.

Louisville sits at No. 16 in the latest AP college football Top 25, three spots higher than where the Cardinals started the season. Doesn't feel that way. Shouldn't feel that way when a team soars to No. 3 in the human polls and No. 5 in the College Football Playoff poll in early November.

Lamar Jackson will likely still win the Heisman Trophy. The Cardinals will play in a nice warm weather bowl game. Recruiting is solid. A solid group of veterans should return on offense.

But after season-ending losses to Houston and Kentucky, this season became a large bowl of What The Heck Happened? 

Too many turnovers. Too many sacks. Too many defensive breakdowns.

GRADE: B

2. Kentucky Report Card

Which game was it when everybody wanted to fire Mark Stoops?

Southern Miss? Florida? New Mexico State?

I forgot. Somebody help me. I'm glad I didn't dive into the middle of that nonsense.

Reasonable people expected the Wildcats to finish 6-6. They won seven, punctuating their season with a rivalry game victory as a 28-point road underdog against a ranked opponent.

Wow.

But this is what is more important: 

Kentucky finally established an offensive identity. The Wildcats' offensive line was tougher than your defensive line and they ran the ball with confidence. The defense made enough plays to win. Austin MacGinnis proved the value of a dependable kicker, winning two games in the final 30 seconds.

Job well done (except for Southern Miss and Florida).

GRADE: B-plus

3. Indiana Report Card

It's hard to knock a program that has qualified for bowl games in back-to-back seasons for the first time in more than two decades and beaten its rival four straight for the first time in nearly 70 years. Baby steps in Bloomington.

But … Indiana had a wonderful opportunity to win seven, eight or even nine games. Should have beaten Wake Forest. Could have beaten Penn State, Northwestern or even Nebraska. There have been too many Should Haves in Bloomington the last three seasons.

Tom Allen did remarkable things with the defense, a group that returns most of its key players next season when IU plays a killer schedule that opens with Ohio State.

But quarterback remains a bit of a mess because the Hoosiers negated their 19 touchdown passes with 17 interceptions. Finding or developing a big-time quarterback remains Job One for Kevin Wilson. That is supposed to be his calling card. He did it with Nate Sudfeld. His challenge is to do it again.

GRADE: C-plus

4. Western Kentucky Report Card

Technically, this grade should be incomplete because the Hilltoppers have one more regular season game remaining, hosting Louisiana Tech Saturday in the Conference USA title game.

The Hilltoppers were not everybody's pick to win the East Division of the league. Some favored Middle Tennessee. Others liked Marshall.

Jeff Brohm's team beat both of those guys. Brohm needed about 17 seconds to prove that the Hilltoppers would keep scoring even with Mike White replacing Brandon Doughty at quarterback. The man can develop quarterbacks and game plan with the best.

WKU ranks in the Top 10 nationally in touchdown passes (36), passing yards per game (33) and scoring (44 points).

Give coordinator Nick Holt enough talented guys on defense and he'll do the rest. The Hilltoppers are the most entertaining group around.

GRADE: A-minus

5. WDRB Staff Report Card

Louisville (9-3)

Winners: Mike Lacett, Tom Lane, Eric Crawford — all had 9-3.

Losers: Rick Bozich, John Lewis, Katie George — all had 10-2

Kentucky (7-5)

Winners: Nobody

Losers: Bozich, George and Crawford had 6-6; Lane, Lewis, Lacett picked 5-7.

Indiana (6-6)

Winners: Bozich and Lane with 6-6.

Runner-up: George 7-5.

Losers: Crawford (5-7), Lacett, Lewis both 4-8.

WKU (9-3)

Winners: Nobody.

Losers: All six staffers said 8-4.

GRADE: You decide

6. Poll Results I

Which team needed a win more in the Governor's Cup?

Louisville 68.1 percent.

Kentucky 31.9 percent

7. Squeezing Every Click Possible From Charlie Strong

I read dozens of stories about Charlie Strong's exit from the University of Texas over the weekend. There's not much left to say about Strong -- until he gets another coaching opportunity.

But if you're looking for one story that summarizes why it ended the way it did for Strong, this is the one to read. Bryan Curtis, a Texas fan who writes about college football for TheRinger.com, says it best:

Being a good man wasn’t enough to save Charlie Strong at Texas.

8. Keep an Eye on Willie Taggart

The two biggest openings on the college football landscape this fall have already been filled -- Louisiana State and Texas.

But if another 4-star job opens, former WKU coach and quarterback Willie Taggart has positioned himself to make nearly any short list that he cares to make.

Three seasons after going 2-10, Taggart led the USF Bulls to a 10-2 season, that featured wins against Navy, Memphis and Central Florida. USF missed the American Athletic Conference title game because the Bulls lost to Temple.

But they earned a nice bowl trip and Taggart has the program trending toward the Top 25 with his ability to recruit and develop talent. Add the Harbaugh tree connection and Taggart is definitely a stock to buy. (The Orlando Sentinel gave Taggart the praise he has earned in this story.)

9. ACC/Big Ten Challenge Forecast

The ACC/Big Ten College Basketball Challenge tips off with two games Monday night, followed by six more on Tuesday and six on Wednesday.

If you trust the projections made by Ken Pomeroy's formula, the Atlantic Coast Conference is line to cruise to a dominating performance, winning nine of the 14 games, including most of the headliners.

The only top Big Ten team projected to win by Pomeroy is Wisconsin, which gets Syracuse in Madison.

Here are the nine projected ACC winners:

Louisville over Purdue, 73-66.

North Carolina over Indiana, 80-77.

Virginia over Ohio State, 65-55.

Duke over Michigan State, 80-67.

Florida State over Minnesota, 80-73.

Notre Dame over Iowa, 84-74.

Clemson over Nebraska, 72-63.

North Carolina State over Illinois, 75-74.

Miami over Rutgers, 72-57.

Here are the five best shots for a Big Ten victory:

Wisconsin over Syracuse, 62-58.

Michigan over Virginia Tech, 70-65.

Northwestern over Wake Forest, 77-72.

Maryland over Pittsburgh, 73-69.

Penn State over Georgia Tech, 72-68.

10. Poll Results II

What is the biggest threat to Lamar Jackson's chances to win the 2016 Heisman Trophy?

A loss to Kentucky  30.6 percent.

Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts 25.4

Michigan defender Jabrill Peppers 20.2

Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson 16.4

Washington quarterback Jake Browning 4.9

Texas running back D’Onta Foreman 2.5

Copyright 2016 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.

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