Just about every publication that covers College Football at a national level has released their preseason top 25 rankings for the 2012 season. Louisville came in at #27 in the USA Today preseason coaches poll that was released last week. The preseason AP Poll should be released before too long.
Here are four recent rankings that we’re published earlier this week. All four feature the Cardinals, with three of the four having Louisville in the top 25.
Jon Wilmer of the Mercury News ranked Louisville at 12th on his preseason AP ballot. Wilmer didn’t give a write up on the Cards, but I think it may be safe to say he is on the train. 12th is the highest I’ve seen anyone rank the Cards.
Chris Dufresne of the Los Angeles times ranks the Cards at #21. Here is an excerpt from Dufresne’s write up on Louisville.
Louisville couldn’t have picked a better time to be returning 17 starters.
West Virginia left for the Big 12 and was replaced by Temple.Pittsburgh and Syracuse are playing as lame ducks in advance of their 2013 defections to the Atlantic Coast Conference. And Rutgers Coach Greg Schiano left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
That leaves the Big East to Louisville, which won five of its last six Big East games last year and returns sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Third-year Coach Charlie Strong, former defensive coordinator on Florida’s BCS title teams, was a great hire and may soon get poached by an upper-echelon program.
John Taylor of CollegeFootballTalk.com, the NBC site for college football, ranks Louisville at #24. Here is Taylor’s optimistic outlook at the Cardinals.
“Every year I have a feeling that I’m rating a team way too low — see Auburn, 2010 — and this year the Cardinals are the team I simply, for whatever reason, couldn’t pull the trigger on a higher ranking and will likely regret it at season’s end. With 14 starters returning from a very youthful squad and West Virginia leaving for the Big 12, the ‘Ville is clearly the class of the Big East in 2012. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who started as a true freshman last season, is a superstar in training and in possession of a ceiling as high as any player at his position in the country. A defense that was well above average is expected to see nothing but improvement with seven returning starters.”
Mike Heuginin of Yahoo! Sports has the Cards just outside the top 25 at #26. Here is Heuginin’s overview of Louisville in 2012.
Strong has done a good job in a short time; it has helped that the league as a whole isn’t that tough.
He has mined his recruiting roots at Florida to bring in a number of good players. Three-quarters of the starting secondary, a starting linebacker, half the starting defensive line, the starting quarterback, two starting receivers and at least one starting offensive lineman are Florida natives. In addition, two of the top four tailbacks also are Floridians.
Strong and his staff also have changed the team’s mindset. This team believes in itself again and plays with a certain swagger. That will pay off this season, and in the future.
The Cardinals will win at least eight games; an eight-win season, though, frankly would be disappointing. The Cardinals should win nine or 10 and finish the season in a BCS bowl. The last time they went to a BCS bowl was in 2006 – and they lost their coach (Bobby Petrino) soon thereafter. If Louisville is in the BCS this season, you can bet some bigger schools will come after Strong.