Teams & Conferences

College Football Rankings: No. 20 Louisville Cardinals


The Louisville Cardinals are at No. 20 in the college football rankings. Here are five things that matter heading into Louisville’s 2016 season.


2016 Louisville Preview
2016 Louisville Game-by-Game Predictions

It’s all about to kick in

It’s the third year under Bobby Petrino – at least in his second go-round with the program – and he’s had a nice run, going 17-9 with a few terrific moments. But this is the team the fans have been waiting for, one with a tremendous defensive back seven, a dangerous group of skill players, quarterback Lamar Jackson, and the just-under-the-radar swagger to sneak up quickly in the same division as Clemson and Florida State.

As long as the line is okay …

The offense might be unstoppable at times. Jackson grew into an unstoppable playmaker of a quarterback as last season went on, and while there might not be a slew of sure-thing game-breakers at the other skill spots, there’s plenty of depth at running back and lots and lots of better-than-serviceable receivers. None of it will matter, though, if the line doesn’t mature after having a slew of consistency problems. As the offensive line goes, so might go the ACC season.

The underappreciated defense is about to become very, very appreciated

The consistently solid top 25-level D should be a terror at linebacker with Devonte Fields and Keith Kelsey two of the league’s better defenders. The secondary that had a few problems here and there, but it’s full of experience. The pass rush should be camped out in the backfield time after time. The whole will be better than the sum of the parts, but as long as it handles itself in the key games against the Noles and Tigers, that’s all that matters.

No mistakes. Really, NO mistakes

This isn’t the most talented team in the ACC Atlantic, but it has the potential and the experience to pull off the shocker and win the division, maybe even the conference. That’s not happening if the offense keeps giving the ball away, turning it over 27 times last year. Turnover margin matters for everyone, but for the Cardinals, that’s the difference between a good season and …

What’s Going To Happen?

A 10-2 record. Yeah, Louisville is going to put it all together in a dream year. The overall schedule isn’t bad at all, with only one game in the last five against a team that went bowling, and with no Miami, North Carolina or Pitt coming from the Coastal. There’s a date at Houston, but the season comes down to the Thursday night game against Florida State and the trip to Clemson. Split those two, and watch out for the Cardinals.