Although this year’s Louisville football team returns a boat load of talent on both sides of the ball, I think it’s safe to say that one of the main reasons for such high expectations is due to the schedule. With the Big East being a “not-so-strong” league, the Cards should be a favorite in the majority of their games this season.
Although zero of the out-of-conference opponents are ranked in the preseason top 25, I think the first five games on the schedule will be slightly tougher than most expect.
The Cards are a 13-point favorite in the season opener against Kentucky. I can easily see Charlie Strong and Louisville winning by two touchdowns, however I wouldn’t be surprised to see that spread slightly fall as the game gets closer. Louisville is a much better team in my opinion and returns a lot more experience, but Kentucky has nothing to lose, which can be dangerous at times. One thing that the Cards have going for them in my opinion is that they’re not overlooking their in-state rival. They’ve been pretty up front and confident about the match-up, but knowing how badly they want to beat Kentucky will surely mean they come out fully focused on September 2nd.
North Carolina, Southern Miss, and FIU aren’t exactly what you’d call college football juggernauts, but they are all picked to finish near the top of their respective leagues.
The majority of the talk surrounding North Carolina recently has been about their off the field trouble with academics and coaching change. However, despite the negative attention, college football guru Phil Steele has the Tar Heels as the favorite in the coastal division of the ACC. I think this may be the toughest game on the schedule for Louisville.
Southern Miss may be slightly down from last season, but are still a projected to finish towards the top of Conference-USA along with UCF. Mario Cristobal and the FIU Panthers lose third round draft pick T.Y. Hilton who shredded the Cardinal defense last season, but are still the favorites in the Sun Belt. I realize being a top contender in leagues such as C-USA and the Sun Belt isn’t worth a whole lot, but both teams have a lot to play for when face Louisville.
As for Missouri State, that game could be an absolute beat-down. The Bears were just 2-9 in FCS play last season. Hopefully they will be cutting a huge check to come to Papa Johns and get embarrassed.