Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Wednesday, August 17, 2016 at 11:27 AM
This is Bobby Petrino's third year at Louisville. He started by winning eight games in 2014. Last year he did that one better and won nine. Will the pattern continue? With Louisville's Over/Under for wins at an even 9, their backers have to hope so, since it will take a 10-win campaign to cash an Over ticket in 2016. Are these Cards up the challenge?
There's a lot of talk in the media about whether Louisville can make a run at the ACC title and one of the spots in the big "New Year's Six" bowl games. It's not out of the question, but the Cards are stuck on the side of the conference with Clemson and Florida State and don't recruit nearly as well. Given that, it's perhaps more prudent to simply focus on whether Louisville can win ten football games this year.
Petrino's coaching reputation is on offense, but success for this Cardinal team starts on defense and in the trenches. They ranked 14th in the nation last season in rush defense. Their 3-4 scheme is anchored by nose tackle DeAngelo Brown, back for his senior year. Brown can tie up blockers and it will up to a a veteran group of linebackers led by the explosive Devonte Fields to be the playmakers.
The secondary wasn't bad last year, ranking 51st nationally in pass defense and with all four starters back in the fold should take a big step forward. It should all add up to one of the better defenses in the country.
Louisville has three starters back on the offensive line, but that's a little misleading - there's only one projected senior starter and three of the projected starters are only sophomores. The past starting experience has them further along than we would otherwise anticipate, but this is still a unit a bit green around the gills.
Petrino wasn't able to throw the ball as well as he might have liked last year, as he broke in freshman Lamar Jackson at quarterback. The good news is that Jackson showed himself to a potent dual-threat quarterback who was coming on strong at season's end. There's a talented group of receivers in the fold and if Jackson can simply make a natural freshman-to-sophomore progression it should add up to a good Cardinal passing game.
When you add it all up, there's good reason to be confident that Louisville can win ten games and cash an Over. They're likely to be favored in every league game outside of Florida State and Clemson. The non-conference schedule has Charlotte, Marshall and Kentucky, three more games where the Cards would be favored. The big one is going to be a November 17 trip to Houston.
But even with three losses, Louisville could still get win #10 in a bowl. The fact they beat an SEC opponent last year in Texas A&M in the bowls shows the Cards can be trusted in these spots. Furthermore, if they're in that position, the Louisville bettor has already guaranteed himself a push with nine wins. And to top it off, there's even some incentive to bet the Over - there's a (+110) price, compared to (-130) if you want to go Under.
We've also made this assessment while writing off the games with Clemson and Florida State. While Louisville's talent base doesn't match up with either powerhouse that doesn't mean beating them in a head-to-head matchup is unthinkable. Louisville gets FSU at home on September 17 and their trip to Clemson on October 1 comes when a young Tiger defense might still be in the growing-up phase. Steal a win in either game and Louisville's Over position becomes commanding.
The only thing standing between you and the success you always dreamed of is YOU. Throw doubt out the window and you have a clear path to a banner season. I've proved it 31 seasons in a row and I'm shooting for 32! I'm Richie B – known throughout Las Vegas as "Mr. Right Number" Click here to join a winning team this football season.