BOZICH | Louisville's tricky path to 10 football victories - WDRB 41 Louisville News

  • In Las Vegas, the projected win total for the Louisville football team is 9.5 Are you taking the Over or Under?

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BOZICH |The path to 10 wins is tricky for Louisville football

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Can Lamar Jackson lead Louisville to a 10-win football season? Can Lamar Jackson lead Louisville to a 10-win football season?

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — The college football 2017 win total projections were posted long before practice started this week.

In Las Vegas, the over/under number for Bobby Petrino’s University of Louisville team is 9.5, the same as Clemson and Florida State. That’s not a bad neighborhood to start the season.

ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) is not as gaga about the Cardinals. Their FPI projected win total is 8.6, listing the Cardinals as underdogs against Clemson, North Carolina State and Florida State.

Drew Sharper of TheSpread.com posted a story this week that he headlined with this question:

Can Louisville get to 10 wins?

His pick?

Louisville has eight sure wins, but the Cardinals are unlikely to get to 10.

Eight sure wins is a stretch. Alabama might have eight sure wins. Maybe Ohio State. It’s a short list after that.

Here’s what I see while looking at Louisville’s schedule:

Three sure wins. Another three likely wins. Four tough wins. Two unlikely wins. That’s how I covered the 12-game schedule, which begins in 32 days in Indianapolis.

SURE WINS

Murray State, home, Sept. 30 — The Racers were picked eighth in the Ohio Valley Conference during OVC media day. And the OVC isn’t a 20-team league. It’s a 9-team league. Without KD Humphries, the Racers are looking for a quarterback.Their defense allowed more than 6 yards per play. Stat-padder for quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Kent State, home, Sept. 23 — The Golden Flashes were picked to finish last in the East Division of the Mid-American Conference. They played two Power Five opponents last season, losing to Alabama by 48 and Penn State by 20. James Harrison, Jack Lambert and Antonio Gates, all former Kent players, aren’t walking through that door. Clear the bench.

3. Purdue, Indianapolis, Sept. 2 — The receivers are slow, but they’re small. The quarterback led the nation with 21 interceptions in 2016. The defense lacks depth and playmakers. Jeff Brohm will need years, not weeks, to clean up the mess left by Darrell Hazell.

LIKELY WINS

4. Syracuse, home, Nov. 18 — Phil Steele says the Orange are the worst team in the ACC Atlantic. Who am I to argue, even though Dino Babers welcomes 19 starters? Louisville has handled the Orange by an average of nearly 27 points during the Cards’ three years in the league. The tradition continues.

5. Boston College, home, Oct. 14 — Eagles’ coach Steve Addazio’s name shows up in the Top 10 on several Hot Seat lists, but he returns 15 starters from a team that finished 2016 beating UConn, Wake Forest and Maryland. Patrick Towles is gone at quarterback, but BC wins with defense, not offense.

6. Virginia, home, Nov. 11 — Virginia has beaten the Cards once in the last three years and was in position to win the other two. Bronco Mendenhall has only had two cracks to recruit to his physical style so although the Cavaliers return nine defensive starters, their offense has king-sized holes. Plus, UVA is 1-19 in its last 20 road games.

TOUGH WINS

7. North Carolina, away, Sept. 9 — The Tar Heels’ top returning back gained 45 yards last season. Their top returning quarterback threw for 55 yards and no touchdowns. If this game was booked for Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, I’d file it under a Likely Win. But it’s in Chapel Hill and Larry Fedora is a quality coach in his sixth season. Beware.

8. Wake Forest, away, Oct. 28 — The Cards won by 32 last season but trailed 12-10 entering the fourth quarter. They won by one in Winston Salem two years ago. They beat the Demon Deacons by 10 during their first trip through the ACC. Wake returns its top QB, halfbacks and receivers. The holes are on defense. Just a guess, but the guys in Winston Salem might remember WakeyLeaks.

9. North Carolina State, away, Oct. 5 — It’s easy to forget the Wolfpack have delivered three consecutive winning seasons and won two of their three bowl games. This is another team that has whiffed against the Cards during three years in the ACC, but N. C. State doesn’t get many national TV moments. Thursday night on ESPN is something Dave Doeren has been awaiting in Raleigh.

10. Kentucky, away, Nov. 25 — The Wildcats accelerated the timetable on beating the Cardinals by one year in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Both teams are capable of winning but there’s no reason to pick somebody until Nov. 24 when you have a list of which players are healthy and available. A revenge rivalry game. Good luck picking that dynamic.

UNLIKELY WINS

11. Clemson, home, Sept. 16 — The Tigers are the only Atlantic Division program the Cardinals have failed to beat but the gap between the teams in three games has been a combined 15 points. That’s three, four or five plays. Getting the Tigers at home in Week 3 (after Clemson’s game with Auburn) as they break in a new quarterback and running back sets up nicely for the Cardinals. But Clemson is still Clemson and Dabo Swinney has been stacking 4- and 5-star recruits like firewood for a decade.

12. Florida State, away, Oct. 21 — The juice Louisville generated by hanging 63 points on the Seminoles on national TV carried the Cardinals to Number 5 in the playoff rankings and Lamar Jackson to the Heisman Trophy. But sometimes there’s a bill to pay for embarrassing a proud program, and the Seminoles will try to collect in Tallahassee, where they’ll be talking national championship, especially if they open by beating Alabama.

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