What are the toughest games on the Louisville football schedule? Ranked from easiest to hardest, here are how important each of the Cardinals’ games are.
What’s Louisville going to do this season? The Cardinals might have the makeup and team to crash the ACC party. Can the schedule work the way they need it to?
12. Sept. 1 vs. Charlotte
The Cardinals host the 49ers on a Thursday night to kick things off. It’s a veteran Charlotte team, but it’s not going to be able to hang around for too long.
11. Sept. 24 at Marshall
Just 200 miles apart, the two schools have only played 15 times, with Marshall winning the last four going back to 1981. Here’s the issue for Louisville – it’s possibly college football’s biggest sandwich game, coming between Florida State and Clemson.
10. Nov. 12 vs. Wake Forest
The fourth-ever meeting between the two schools, the Cardinals squeaked by, 20-19, last year and are 3-0 all-time including the 2007 Orange Bowl. It’s a must-focus game coming between road games at Boston College and Houston, and it’s the last ACC game of the season.
9. Oct. 29 at Virginia
The start of a run of three road games in four weeks, Louisville also has a stretch of three straight games that didn’t go bowling last year. The teams have split the two games since the Cardinals joined the ACC – they were two good, close games.
8. Oct. 14 vs. Duke
In terms of interdivisional games, this isn’t too bad. Not only do the Cardinals get the Blue Devils at home, they get them after a week off. It’s a Friday night contest, and considering the Clemson game comes before it, Louisville has to be ready to roll.
7. Oct. 22 vs. NC State
This is when the Cardinals have to be cranking it up. The Florida State and Clemson games are out of the way, the bye week is over, and there’s a relatively easy run of ACC games over the next five. This is the one of the toughest ones of the bunch, but it’s at least at home.
6. Sept. 9 at Syracuse
Louisville is 2-0 against the Orange since joining the ACC, but the conference opener is on the road on a Friday night. On the plus side, the Cardinals get an extra day after kicking off the year against Charlotte on a Thursday night. The other big positive? This gives the team an extra day to prepare for Florida State.
5. Nov. 26 vs. Kentucky
Five straight. Even in years that haven’t been so great, Lousiville beating UK five times in a row is a big deal since losing the 2010 season opener. This year it ends the regular season, and the Cardinals catch a break getting a few extra days playing Houston on a Thursday night the week before.
4. Nov. 5 at Boston College
This could be a dangerous road game against a nasty defense that’ll be looking to make a statement. Coming off the road game at Virginia, the Cardinals have to get through the dog days of the second half of the year.
3. Nov. 17 at Houston
Louisville should be the better team, but if Houston somehow beats Oklahoma to start the season, and if it’s still unbeaten at this point, the hype will be huge. The Cardinals only get five days to get ready for the Thursday night battle after facing Wake Forest. But the Cougars are also coming in on a short week, playing Tulane a few days before.
2. Sept. 17 vs. Florida State
This is it. This is the one game the Cardinals have to win. With an extra day to get ready – after playing Syracuse on a Friday the week before – and with the home crowd likely to be absolutely insane, a win over the Seminoles sets the stage for a shot to all but wrap up the ACC Atlantic with a win …
1. Oct. 1 at Clemson
The two teams have only played twice, and both games were tight Clemson wins taking last year’s game 20-17 and the 2014 battle 23-17. The Cardinals have to at least split in the two games against the Atlantic big boys – taking this and/or the date with Florida State. If they win both going into the bye week, and they’re 5-0, welcome to the No. 1 team in the country.