Last year I wrote that I believed Louisville could win 11 games but I kept my prediction at 10-2 because I feared that one unexplainable loss. Well after a 9-1 start, I felt 11 wins was a definite. I was a firm believer that Louisville would beat an over hyped Houston team. I was wrong. I don’t think I was alone in believing that there was no way that the team 65 miles east of us could come into our house and win. I was wrong again.
This preseason is very similar to last years. Las Vegas has set our win total at 9.5 again this year. There is a lot of hype again also. I believe the difference this year is that this team is better than last years team and the schedule is not as tough. The key to the season is the first 3 games. If Louisville can go 3-0 then 11 wins seems more likely. A loss to UNC and Clemson could mean a 8 or 9 win season. Another factor that I think people are forgetting is that this is Bobby Petrino’s 4th season. In case you forgot what that means, let me remind you. In Petrino’s 4th year at Louisville the first time around, Louisville went 12-1 and finished 6th in the country. In his 4th year at Arkansas, they were 11-2 and finished 5th in the country. So if my beliefs are correct, then it’s reasonable to predict that Louisville will go over the projected 9.5 win total set by Las Vegas. While I also believe there is a small chance that Louisville can run the table, I won’t predict that because I don’t want to be the hot take guy. I honestly believe that this team has a very good shot to be 11-1 but I fear that one game that nobody can explain what happened, so I’ll predict a 10-2 season although below I will predict 11 wins because I don’t know where the second loss will come from and I don’t want there to be a second loss.
Here are my game by game predictions,
Saturday September 2nd vs Purdue
Card Forever Jeff Brohm gets put to the test on a national TV stage inside Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for his first game as the new Purdue head coach. Peter Sirmon will also get put to the test as his first game as new Louisville defensive coordinator as he has the dubious task of trying to stop a high-powered Jeff Brohm offense. While Brohm offenses are known to put up points, I’m not sure he has all the tools in place to drop 35 on Louisville. But beware of Purdue taking some deep shots or a trick play. Purdue’s offensive line is not great and should be just what the Louisville D line needs to gain some confidence. I can easily see 3 or 4 sacks for the good guys. Louisville will probably be favored by 27. Cards win 59-17. Win probability 92%
Saturday September 9th vs North Carolina
If you believe everything you read on the internet then you should be worried about this game. It seems UNC fans are warning Cardinal fans that they are not going to waltz into Carolina and walk away with a W. This totally blows my mind seeing how UNC lost 99.0 percent of their rushing yards, 98.3 percent of their passing yards, 70.5 percent of their receiving yards and 85.7 percent of their scoring from a year ago. Last years QB, Mitch Trubisky, in now playing for the Chicago Bears. The only QB on the roster that has game experience is LSU graduate transfer Brandon Harris. I assume he will be the starter. Last year on defense, UNC allowed an ACC-worst 227.3 yards per game against the run. The defensive line returns 11 of its top 13 contributors so they this could be a game to give Jeremy Smith some confidence or maybe introduce Colin Wilson into the mix. Cards win 30-14. Win probability 70%
Saturday September 26th vs Clemson
Heisman Trophy runner-up Deshaun Watson, tailback Wayne Gallman, tight end Jordan Leggett, three of the top four receivers, including Mike Williams and choke artist Ben Boulware, are all gone. But head coach Dabo Swinney is still there and he is reloading. The defense is the strength of this team as they only allowed 18 points per game last season. They should be just as good this year, if not better. But throw out the numbers when Louisville and Clemson play. It seems every year that it comes down to one possession. Although Clemson is 3-0 vs Louisville, I feel this is the year that Louisville gets it done. It won’t be easy as the early Las Vegas odds have this game as a pick’em. Cards win 35-34. Win probability 46%
Saturday September 23rd vs Kent State
The Golden Flashes finished just 3–9 for the 2nd straight season but hope for a much better year. Their offense is not great and their defense kept them in most games last year. However, they only return 5 starters on defense. Kent State is outmatched at every position the field and is clearly here for a paycheck and a butt kicking. Cards win 48-3. Win probably 98%
Saturday September 30th vs Murray State
Not much to say about this game either. I want to tell you that this game against a liked in state rival will be competitive, but it won’t be. Expect to see Puma Pass early and often. This could be a great game for him to gain some much-needed experience. Cards win 69-0. Win probability 100%
Thursday October 5th vs N.C. State
For whatever reason this preseason, both ACC schools with Carolina in their name have been warning Louisville about coming into their state and leaving with a loss. Everyone is saying that this is the game where Louisville trips up as State is a program on the rise. This is the same scenario that I remember being warned about last year vs Marshall. Ask Marshall how that turned out. I guess since last season they hung tough and almost beat both Clemson and Florida State, and four of their six losses were by seven points or fewer, everyone thinks they are going to be tough this year. While I don’t think this is an easy victory, I want to remind the Wolfpack that Louisville beat them 54-13 last season and led 44-0 at halftime. N.C. state will have one of the top defensive lines in the country but will need to replace 3 members of last years secondary. It seems to me that this could be a breakout game for Dez Fitzpatrick. Cards win 24-17. Win probability 64%
Saturday October 14th vs Boston College
The fighting Patrick Towles are moving on from last year and may look to go more up-tempo. Towles has graduated and is probably helping Jared Lorenzen with his Twitter account, so the Eagles will be starting a new QB this year. That might not be a bad thing for them. They return a nice group of receivers and a very good defensive line. Defensive end Harold Landry led the nation in sacks last year with 16.5 and he decided to return to BC instead of going to the NFL. It seems as though the BC secondary may be their weakness. Jaylen Smith is salivating as he watches BC game tapes. Cards win 28-10. Win probability 91%
Saturday October 21st vs Florida State
Florida State will be a preseason top 5 team. I fear they are circling this revenge game after the curb stomping that took place at PJCS last season. You don’t forget your worst loss in program history. The good news is that Dalvin Cook in now playing on Sundays. The bad news is that freshman running back Cam Akers is very good. We all remember being introduced to freshman Dalvin Cook, hopefully this encounter with a freshman running back has a different ending. Deondre Francois is back at QB and should be much improved. Florida State plays Alabama in week 1. If they can pull off that victory, they could possibly be the top ranked team when Louisville comes to town. Their D-line is solid and deep. Could be tough sledding for our running game. FSU also returns cornerback Tarvarus McFadden, who tied for first nationally with eight interceptions last season. This game is going to make me start drinking. FSU is currently a 10 point favorite. Cards Lose 28-21. Win probability 28% (so you’re saying there’s a chance)
Saturday October 28th vs Wake Forest
Wake Forest is not good and it’s mainly because of their offense. Their offensive line yielded 39 sacks last year. I look for Hearns. Bailey and Young to have a field day. Former Card commit Matt Colburn will carry the rock for Wake but behind that O line, I don’t see him, or anyone, carrying it very far. Last year Wake running backs were stopped at or behind the line 21% of the time, and only 8.6% of their carries gained 10 yards or more, third worst in the Power 5. Cards Win 35-10. Win probability 78%
Saturday November 4th – Bye Week
Saturday November 11th vs Virginia
Louisville had trouble at Virginia last season – luckily this is a home game. Virginia finished last in the ACC in rushing last season and it doesn’t look like that will improve too much, so expect a good day for our D line. Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall is in the middle of a rebuilding project at Virginia so I would think that this year they will at least be slightly better overall but no threat to win the ACC. Cards win 41-14. Win probability 89%
Saturday November 18th vs Syracuse
The “Lamar Leap” game last year was exciting and fun. Head coach Dino Babers, in his second season, will still not have an answer for Lamar Jackson. Syracuse QB, Eric Dungey seems like he has been there for 10 years but he is just a junior. He is a very good junior but his O Line is questionable. Syracuse has the toughest schedule in the nation and could be very beat up by the time they travel to Louisville. Even if they are healthy they are still over-matched, although they could put up some points with that hurry-up spread offense. Cards win 38-24. Win probability 84%
Saturday November 25th vs Kentucky
Don’t think for one second that Bobby Petrino forgot about last years game. This will be a revenge game and Bobby will pull everything out of his back of tricks. And don’t be surprised if he tries to run up the score in an attempt to make an impression on the playoff committee – if Louisville is still in contention. UK should already be bowl eligible by this game so that incentive may be gone. Kentucky has the best offensive line in the SEC but might be exhausted by the last game of the season. They amassed the most rushing yards in school history last year. But running back Boom Williams will be on the Cincinnati Bengals practice squad this year, so the duties fall to 2016 Freshman All-American, Benny Snell. QB Stephen Johnson proved he can throw the deep ball and has some weapons around him. UK can score but their problem might be stopping opponents from scoring. Louisville is currently a 10 point favorite, Cards win 42-31. Win probability 71%
* Final scores are simply my prediction on the game. The win probability is not my prediction but rather the S&P+ statistics predictions.
As Always, GO CARDS!