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 .500 for the first time in 2015 and at 4-4 they have 4 regular season games to play to close out their season. 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 -> COMPLETED (3-4) Step #4: Beat Wake Forest COMPLETED (4-4)
Step #5: Protect What’s Left of the Home Schedule…. Syracuse & Virginia (6-4)
Syracuse comes to town this week on a 5 game losing streak. That’s rough. Especially considering they are fresh off a road loss to FSU, come to Louisville this week, and then host Clemson the following week. The thing about the Orange though….they are competitive. 10-point loss to LSU, 6 point loss to UVA, 3 point loss to Pitt. Syracuse was beaten soundly by Florida State and LSU however. To date SU’s 3 wins have come against Rhode Island, Wake Forest and Central Michigan. The fact remains that even though Syracuse does lose, they are a tough win for most programs. This is a HOME game for the Cards and UofL simply can not afford to give any more of those away.
The final game of Louisville’s home schedule in 2015 is a revenge match-up against the Virginia Cavaliers (3-5). UVA rallied to beat Georgia Tech (who just beat Florida State) this week in Charlottesville. Virginia owns losses to UCLA, Notre Dame, Boise State, Pitt, and North Carolina….all good teams. But the Cavs also barely skated past William & Mary and Syracuse. The Cavs are an interesting case because they are (like Syracuse) competitive but have found themselves on the losing end more times than not. UVA travels to UofL sandwiched between Coastal Division match-ups between Miami & Duke, but with this being another home game the Cards simply can not afford to drop either one of these games.
Step #6: Beat PITT at Heinz Field (7-4)
There was some thought last week that Pitt might be the class of the Coastal Division in the ACC. North Carolina stopped that on Thursday night when the Tar Heels took down the Panthers (6-2) 26-19 at Heinz Field. Pitt is a good football team and is probably the Cards toughest remaining test on the schedule. With wins over GT, UVA, VT, Syracuse, Akron, and Youngstown Pitt has won the majority of games in front of them with 1st year HC Pat Narduzzi. Pitt did take #10 Iowa to Overtime in Iowa City for their one loss and North Carolina is 7-1 having won 7 in a row following its disastrous opener.
UofL will face Pitt between divisional games (Duke & Miami, just like UVA) and can still contend for the Coastal Division. This week Pitt travels to Notre Dame for a noon match-up on ABC and a chance to enhance the Pittsburgh profile. For Louisville they need to find a way to beat Pitt in Heinz Field to take the next step up the ladder in 2015.
Step #7: Beat Kentucky at Commonwealth Stadium (8-4)
Kentucky just dropped its 30th of 31 vs. Tennessee this past Saturday in Commonwealth Stadium. Losing to UT wasn’t surprising for UK, but the final score was surprising at 52-21. The Wildcats had been playing close games until the Mississippi State game but now UK has lost consecutive games by 26+.
The Battle for the Governor’s Cup always means a great deal to both programs and a bowl appearance may even rest on the line for one or both teams. UK is 4-4 with wins over Lafayette, South Carolina, Missouri, and Eastern Kentucky. Their losses are to Florida, Auburn, Mississippi State and Tennessee. UK has played teams tough at Commonwealth (except UT) but they’ll need to travel to Georgia this week before visiting Vanderbilt and coming home vs. Charlotte. Georgia has been struggling lately and the Cats should handle Vandy and the 49ers. We’ll see if they do.