When the USA Today/Coaches preseason poll came out last week, all Louisville fans were elated to see their beloved Cards land at #9. This is the highest preseason ranking the Cards have ever seen in the history of the program. And with the team poised to make a run at the BCS National Championship Game, this ranking is even more important than usual. This is because of two key factors (1)the schedule that Louisville has and (2)the other 8 teams that find themselves in front of the Cards.
In my opinion, if Louisville stays healthy and goes undefeated during the regular season the Cards will see themselves in the top 2 or 3 at the end of the season. This also predicates itself on who else is undefeated, if any, and who has only 1 loss. Going through the Top 10 of the preseason USA Today/Coaches Poll, I decided to give my opinion about which teams within the Top 10 that could slow UofL’s road to a BCS National Championship Game.
Number 1: Alabama
This one is easy. If Alabama is as good as everyone thinks they are then no one, and I mean no one, is going to beat the 2013 Alabama team. Winning three National Titles in a row in this day and age seems extremely improbable. But with AJ McCarron and TJ Yeldon back, to go along with another great Nick Saban defense, it seems to me that at worst the Crimson Tide will be 12-1 after winning the SEC Championship. That alone should get them into the BCS NC Game. I for one would love a shot at Alabama and this year could be the year.
Number 2: Ohio State
When people want to talk about the Cards’ “weak” schedule, just ask them what they think about Ohio State’s schedule! When their best OOC game is at Cal and the Buckeyes miss Michigan State and Nebraska on the B1G schedule then yes, you have a “weak” schedule. Now I am not here to say tOSU is not a great football team, its just that they have no one to test them until the go to the “Big House” to play Michigan in late November. This game could be the falling point for tOSU, if they have lost before this one to Wisconsin or Northwestern. If tOSU loses just one game then that will eliminate them from any contention for a BCS NC Game appearance.
Number 3: Oregon
This team somewhat scares me with their ability to go undefeated, despite having a brand new head coach in Mark Helfrich. One of the reasons they scare me is because they will not have to play USC in the regular season, that alone is a huge break for the Ducks. They do have to go to Palo Alto to play #4 Stanford, but I believe that should be a win for UO. If the Ducks can go unscathed through the PAC-12 season and win their conference championship game, then they may just beat the Cards out for the final spot in Pasadena.
Number 4: Stanford
Stanford is a good football team, but I just cannot see them going 13-0 and playing in the BCS NC Game. For one, the have to play Oregon and even though it is at home, the Ducks are a much better football team. Another reason that I cannot see them going undefeated is because they have to go to the Coliseum to play USC. As we all know, anything can happen in the Coliseum. (Don’t forget Notre Dame for the Cardinal, and also UCLA for both Oregon & Stanford).
Number 5: Georgia
I think a lot of this Georgia ball club, but I just cannot see them getting past the trio of #7 South Carolina, #8 Clemson, and #10 Florida without at least one loss. I know that even with one loss, the Bulldogs would have a shot at playing for the title, but that also means getting past Alabama in the SEC Championship. And for me, no one is beating Alabama in the Georgia Dome for a chance to play for a third straight title.
Number 6: Texas A&M
The Aggies go as “Johnny Football” goes and, in my opinion, the Aggies will be absolutely hammered by the Tide on September 14th in College Station. That will end any chance they have at playing for the title and you never know if Manziel may do something (else) this off-season that could jeopardize him playing before he even takes a snap this fall.
Number 7: South Carolina
See Georgia. #5 Georgia, #7 South Carolina, and #8 Clemson will all play themselves out of going undefeated and unless one team beats both of the others, then all three have no chance at a title. Also, South Carolina will have to play #10 Florida as well. The SEC East will play itself out of the national title picture by the end of the season.
Number 8: Clemson
See Georgia and South Carolina. Also, a tough game in Death Valley against FSU may just cost the Tigers their undefeated season.
Number 9: Louisville
Number 10: Florida
Just like Georgia and South Carolina, unless one team can run the table, the SEC East will take care of itself. Do not forget about having to play FSU, either.
With all of this being said, all Louisville can do is to stay healthy, do not worry about what the other teams are doing, and the most important issue is to handle their business week in and week out. If Louisville can do this, the Cards have as good a chance as any to make the BCS National Championship Game.