It’s still awkward for me to hear the word playoffs when it’s pertaining to college football. When I hear “playoffs,” I still envision the Indianapolis Colts old coach, Jm Mora, in a 2001 post game press conference where he said “What’s that? Ah — Playoffs? Don’t talk about — playoffs? You kidding me? Playoffs?”
The third year of the college football playoffs will return in just 123 days on January 1, 2018. The four teams participating will face off in either the Rose Bowl or the Sugar Bowl. The winners of those two bowl games will play for the national championship on Monday, January 8th in Atlanta GA.
Last year the Louisville Cardinals were in the playoff discussion until a late season loss to Houston. But prior to the season, not many people believed that Louisville had any shot to be there. The excitement and hype were there but the expectations for Louisville were set at a 9 win season. Last year I asked you if you wanted to ride the hype train or pump the brakes. I wanted to ride it all the way to a New Years day bowl game. I know many of you wanted to ride it as well but were not quite sure because there were still a lot of unanswered questions. Louisville had a sophomore starting at QB, who had shown flashes of greatness but had never started two games in a row. There were a lot of questions about the offensive line. Bobby Petrino had exactly 0 wins over ranked teams and was 0-6 against those ranked teams since his return as head coach to Louisville.
But as the season went along, the expectations seem to grow. After the curb stomping of second ranked Florida State, confidence was at an all time high. A close loss to Clemson in Death Valley proved Louisville was on the same level as the big boys. Sitting at 9-1 and just on the outside of the playoffs, winnable games at Houston and vs Kentucky seemed to be the key to making the playoffs. Expectations were raised again.
It didn’t happen and Louisville won 9 games just like most people in the preseason predicted.
That’s still a successful season, right?
Going into this year, Louisville’s win total set by the wise guys of Las Vegas is 9.5. That’s exactly the same as last year. So if Louisville wins 9 games will you be happy or is it playoffs or bust for you?
Last year, the schedule was a little more difficult. Last year, Lamar was an unproven commodity. Last year, 9 wins sounded great.
Last year is over and although the expected win total is the same, there is just a different feeling surrounding the team this year. There is a feeling of disrespect and a feeling of unfinished business.
Traditionally, Louisville athletics as a whole thrives on being the underdog. They take that disrespect and use it as fuel better than any other University.
This year, Louisville has the reigning Heisman trophy winner. This year, there is a preseason first team all-american playing on the defense. This year, 9 wins doesn’t quite seem to be enough. This year is Bobby Petrino’s 4th year. What does that mean? 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 with the preseason hype, raised expectations, and all around excitement, is it playoffs or bust for you?
For me 10 or 11 wins and a New Years 6 bowl game is a successful season. I don’t need a spot in the college football playoffs to be satisfied with this season. The fact that it’s even a possibility is a step in the right direction. Rome wasn’t built in a day and Louisville football won’t become a perennial power with just a one appearance in the playoffs. 10 wins is an improvement from last season and is something to keep building on. The future is bright but if Louisville doesn’t make the playoffs, that doesn’t really mean anything.
If we learned anything from last year it’s that we shouldn’t raise expectations due to early season success.
My opinion is that this is the year that Louisville doesn’t have that one head scratching loss. They finally get over that hump and they finally finish off Clemson. Louisville wins 11 games and just misses the college football playoffs but wins a New Years 6 bowl game. A 12-1 season and finishing in the top 6 is a succesful season, so it’s not playoffs or bust for me. Is it for you?
As Always, GO CARDS!