LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The expectations for the upcoming college football season aren’t too bright around here – if you look at the various preseason publications or projections by oddsmakers. But that doesn’t mean we won’t have a few marquee weekends with anticipated games stacking up.
Phil Steele’s annual football yearbook predicts Louisville will get a bit of a break on the schedule front, going from the nation’s fourth-toughest schedule in 2018 to the No. 15 schedule this season. He ranks Purdue’s schedule at No. 22, Indiana’s at No. 47 and Kentucky’s at No. 51. WKU’s checks in at No. 102. Here’s an early look at what shape up to be the best football weekends in the area this fall, in the order they come:
1). OPENING WEEKEND. Nobody much is expecting Louisville to throw a scare into a top 20 Notre Dame team that visits Cardinal Stadium on Labor Day night for an ESPN matchup, but that game anchors the first weekend of college football in the area, with Indiana traveling to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis to open with Ball State on that Saturday, Aug. 31, and Kentucky continuing its tradition of playing non-Power 5 opponents in the non-conference (except for Louisville) with Toledo visiting Kroger Field. Anytime Notre Dame comes to town, it's going to be memorable, and it makes for a splashy start to the Scott Satterfield era.
The last time Kentucky played a major conference regular-season opponent (outside of Louisville) was 2005, the last year it scheduled Indiana.
2). WEEK 3 (Sept. 14). It’s game-on for Kentucky, which will welcome Florida to Kroger Field. Indiana also has a nationally ranked visitor in Ohio State. Louisville hits the road for a matchup with WKU in Nashville. The Hilltoppers feel like they let one get away when they missed a 51-yard field goal try that would’ve pulled the upset in what would wind up being the last victory in a nightmare season for Louisville. This year it’s a showdown of new head coaches with Satterfield facing Tyson Helton in Nissan Stadium.
3). WEEK 8 (Oct. 19). Tough games abound. Defending national champion Clemson will visit Cardinal Stadium (no doubt remembering last season's 77-16 debacle), while Kentucky will travel to Georgia. If you can’t make the trip to Athens, Keeneland will be in the midst of its fall meet. Also on this date, WKU hosts Charlotte in its Homecoming game.
4). WEEK 11 (Nov. 9). Louisville fans – or at least their attention – can head south this week, with the Cardinals visiting Miami in two sports. The men’s basketball team will have the earliest season-opener in its history that Tuesday, Nov. 5, in Coral Gables, with the football programs squaring off on Saturday in Hard Rock Stadium. Back at home, Kentucky will get Tennessee in Kroger Field. The last time the teams met in Lexington, Kentucky went 72 yards in 10 plays to score the game-winning touchdown with 33 seconds left. UT nearly pulled off the comeback, however, when its Hail Mary was completed, but the receiver tackled at the Wildcats' 3-yard line as time expired.
5). WEEK 14 (Nov. 30). The annual post-Thanksgiving Rivalry Week games have Louisville visiting Kentucky this season and Indiana going to Purdue. The Hoosiers have had a bowl appearance on the line each of the past four times they’ve played Purdue. In the Cats-Cards rivalry game, the home team has lost four straight. As an added bonus, WKU will welcome Middle Tennessee to Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium, a rivalry that has blossomed in recent years. The Hilltoppers have won eight straight Senior Night games. The home team has won four of the past five in the series and the past seven meetings have produced four upset winners.
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