Cardinal Sin

We are the sum total of our accomplishments. Fair or not, judging a football team by those same criteria is precisely the college climate we’ve been exposed to for years.  Schedule, conference affiliation, and record are what fuel perception of each team despite knowing that every 12-0 or 11-1 mark isn’t created equally.  There’s a very real chance a team hailing from a pseudo BCS conference will encounter such bias this season given a slate of games everyone anticipates will look as paper soft at year’s end as it does now. For the basketball fervent fan base, the dream of winning both a national title on the hardwood and gridiron in the same calendar year may be near impossible. 

Before everyone jumps down my throat, I’ll admit Louisville has an elite talent in Teddy Bridgewater that could win the Heisman Trophy.  However, for those Cardinal football faithful that believe a national championship is attainable this season, I remain skeptical. Much has been made about the schedule facing Charlie Strong’s team in 2013.  Despite a surplus of starters returning from last year’s Sugar Bowl championship roster, there was noting that could be done to add a marquee non-conference opponent to the docket.  Louisville finds themselves in a predicament akin to what Boise St has dealt with for years; an address in a conference that keeps you from getting a seat at the big boy table. Louisville’s fall weekends are littered with more cupcakes than your corner bakery and even the most devout fan can’t argue with that assessment.  Within the conference slate, only a road date at Cincinnati keeps the Cardinals from being listed as double digit favorites every time they hit the field.  Based on our power numbers, here are projected point spreads for Louisville’s 11 remaining regular season games adjusted accordingly to include home field advantage.




Eastern Kentucky: Louisville -41



@Kentucky: Louisville -12.5



FIU: Louisville -37.5



@Temple: Louisville -27



Rutgers: Louisville -14



UCF: Louisville -19



@South Florida: Louisville  -17.5



@Connecticut: Louisville -15



Houston: Louisville -25



Memphis: Louisville -29.5



@Cincinnati: Louisville -4

It’s not fair to blame Louisville for the hand it has been dealt. Charlie Strong has built a deep roster highlighted by the aforementioned Heisman candidate Teddy Bridgewater yet that doesn’t make this statement any less compelling; there are 26 teams in the country by our numbers that would also be favored in every game on the Cardinal’s schedule. Outside of the elite teams you already assume garner that distinction, programs like Wisconsin, Northwestern, and North Carolina would be at worst a PK (virtually 50/50 in betting terms) against Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium while assuming favorite status in every other game.

Every game won’t play out like it looks on paper but it’s impossible to ignore the fact the Cardinal don’t play ANYONE of national relevance this entire year. The only other schedule for a national title contender that comes close to resembling this list would be Alabama but the Tide still have to navigate through LSU and Texas A&M before a potential conference championship game so comparisons there are quite the reach. Regardless of margin of victory or dominating efforts, I can’t see pollsters moving Louisville into the top 2 of the BCS unless a perfect storm on the college football landscape unfolded around them.  Too many potential one-loss teams like Oregon, Stanford, Texas A&M, LSU, & Alabama (just to name a few) will be given consideration for national title inclusion long before the Cardinals.  Of course this isn’t the fault of the players on the field given their roster is equipped with top 15 talent but there isn’t the slightest possibility Louisville’s resume will keep them relevant for a trip to Pasadena.  Right now the Cardinals’ lone hope is that UCF, Rutgers, and Cincinnati find ways to improve their overall profiles creating a domino effect to bolster them up a bit.  What will be fascinating to monitor is how interconnected Teddy Bridgewater’s individual accomplishments are to the program’s national title aspirations. Teddy remains the key cog in keeping this team at the forefront of media consciousness and the national title dreams of an entire program alive.

Remind me again why we don’t need at least an 8 team playoff where conference champions can all be included and actually have a chance to win a title on the field?


Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.