21 for 2021 College Football Topics, No. 19: Five teams that should rebound with a better 2021 after a mediocre 2020.
As if there was a valid excuse to not play up to expectations in 2020.
Most teams that had disappointing seasons didn’t get the free pass they should’ve considering everything the world was dealing with, but some couldn’t play, some were going through issues as a school and community that went far beyond the football program, and some just didn’t play college football as well as they should’ve.
So with the assumption that the virus issues of last season should at least be lessened if not mostly out of the equation in 2021, here are five teams ranked in the 2020 preseason top 25 – or close to it – that should be a whole lot stronger.
The list is based on last year’s preseason ranking going from the bottom up, starting with …
5. Louisville Cardinals
2020 Preseason Ranking
AP NR (31), Coaches NR (33)
Final Record: 4-7
What Went Wrong?
It’s not about what went wrong as much as it was about not being able to build on the big 2019.
Scott Satterfield took over and led the program from the doldrums to an 8-5 season with a bowl win and a fun offense that brought the program back. But the offensive line struggled in 2020, the turnovers wouldn’t stop, and the team couldn’t seem to buy a break.
Oh, and the defense was crazy-inconsistent. It shut Notre Dame down to a dead stop, but couldn’t slow down Georgia Tech. The offense couldn’t seem to get anything consistently going, either.
Why 2021 Will Be Better: Returning Talent
15 starters are back starting with QB Malik Cunningham, who turned it over too often but was still able to keep things moving enough for the offense to score 30 points or more six times. The defense that struggled a bit too much at least returns experienced, and James Turner should be one of the nation’s top kickers.
Why 2021 Will Be Better: Schedule
– 2021 Louisville Football Schedule Analysis
And here’s the issue.
Louisville will have a rough time matching the eight wins of 2019, but it should be well back into bowl contention and should be a more dangerous out in the ACC.
It has to play Ole Miss and UCF in non-conference play, and it starts out the ACC season on the road at Florida State and Wake Forest. The Cardinals have to come up with a few wins against those four, to go along with a victory over Eastern Kentucky, to start 3-2.
Playing Clemson doesn’t help, but on the plus side, the team only leaves Kentucky twice after October 2nd, and road dates against NC State and Duke are manageable.