After an 0-3 start, we mapped out a “Road Map to Success” for Louisville Football and identified several key areas of why the Cards are where they were after the first 3 games of 2015. Now the Cards sit at 3-4 and look to get to .500 for the first time in 2015 on Friday and lets take a look at the road map now.
Step #1: Beat Samford -> COMPLETED (1-3) Step #2: Split N.C. State & Florida State Road Tests -> COMPLETED (2-4) Step #3: Find a Way to Beat Boston College (3-4) -> COMPLETED (3-4)
Step #4: Beat Wake Forest (4-4)
Wake Forest just dropped to 1-4 in ACC play with a home loss to North Carolina State in Winston-Salem. The 18 point loss to NC State was the largest home loss of the season after the Demon Deacons lost to IU by 7 and Florida State by 8. On the road WF owns losses to Syracuse by 13 and by 36 to North Carolina. The one league WIN thus far was a 3-0 rock fight with Boston College in Boston.
Friday Night will be a BLACKOUT game on Halloween Eve. UofL is slowly learning HOW to win games but mistakes persist that good teams will take advantage of to flip the outcome. Consistency is a problem, but this is a game Louisville should win and NEEDS to win if they expect to salvage the season. Winning on the road is never easy, but if the Cards can get to .500 on Friday we can start entertaining the real possibility of a bowl.
Step #5: Protect What’s Left of the Home Schedule…. Syracuse & Virginia (6-4)
For Syracuse (3-4) the Louisville game is sandwiched between Florida State and Clemson and will the second road game in a row for the Orange. Syracuse has lost 4 games in a row after starting 3-0 with wins over Rhode Island, Wake Forest, and Central Michigan. Syracuse did play LSU tough 34-24 in the Carrier Dome and despite their current 4 game slide, they are playing teams tough. Most recently a 23-20 loss to Coastal Division leader PITT. The Orange are perfectly capable of giving the Cards a tough game and will more than likely be coming to Louisville on a 5-game losing streak after traveling to Florida State this week. This is a HOME game for Louisville and the Cards can’t afford to give any more of those away.
The final game of Louisville’s home schedule is a revenge match-up against the Virginia Cavaliers (2-5). UVA is fresh of a 26-13 loss to North Carolina and unraveled quickly after two tough games to start the season when UVA took Notre Dame down to the wire and lost to UCLA in their opener. Virginia then barely made it past William & Mary and were destroyed at home by Boise State. Virginia hosts Georgia Tech and travels to Miami before coming to Louisville. The Cards need to win this game.
Step #6: Beat PITT at Heinz Field (7-4)
Pitt (6-1) leads the Coastal Division of the ACC at 4-0 and the Panthers are also on a 4-game winning streak. This week Pitt took down Syracuse in the Carrier Dome to go along with wins over VT, UVA, and GT in league play. Pitt’s only loss came at Iowa in Overtime and the Hawkeye’s are currently #10 in the country. Pitt is #23 and will face 6-1 North Carolina this week and #9 Notre Dame next week, (both at Heinz Field) before traveling to #22 Duke. The Cards will face Pitt between divisional games (Duke & Miami) and with the Panthers in contention to represent the Coastal that could a blessing for the Cards. Pittsburgh has found ways to win tight games (except Iowa). Pitt has a chance to really enhance its profile before Louisville comes to town and whether they do or not this game will mean a great deal to Louisville’s ability to have a successful season.
Step #7: Beat Kentucky at Commonwealth Stadium (8-4)
We’re a week away from seriously beginning to pay attention to Kentucky. But for Louisville the best case scenario for the Cards is winning every game remaining on the schedule. That’s not likely, so the Battle for the Governor’s Cup will mean a great deal of relevance and perhaps even a bowl appearance (for both teams?).
The Cats are 4-3 after dropping a 42-16 loss to Mississippi State in a rare road game for UK in 2015. Kentucky has wins over South Carolina, Lafayette, Missouri, and EKU (OT) and has lost two tight ones to Florida and Auburn to go along with the Miss State loss. Prior to this week’s game against the Bulldogs all of UK’s game had been determined by 8 points or less. UK is tough at Commonwealth; combine the rivalry & the season finale and this game on Thanksgiving Weekend should be quite entertaining. Louisville will be coming into this game off the PITT game while Kentucky will be coming off games vs. Charlotte & Vanderbilt.