By Dalton Ray–
With then-sixth-ranked Houston’s 46-40 loss to the Navy Midshipmen, Louisville’s chances of making a push into the College Football Playoffs took a huge hit. The Thursday night showdown between the Cardinals and Cougars on Nov. 17 was going to give U of L another chance against a top-five team on the nation’s stage. But, Navy played spoiler to potentially both Louisville and Houston.
The remaining games on Louisville’s schedule, outside of Houston, aren’t really that impressive. Duke, North Carolina State, Virginia, Boston College and Kentucky have a combined record of 21-14. NC State and WF have the best records at 4-1 and 5-1.
Louisville is the far superior team in each these match-ups and will be favored to win the remaining seven games, including Houston. For Louisville to show they’re worthy of playing in the CFP, they win have to win their final seven games in impressive fashion. Double-digit wins in each game will be required.
Even if Louisville finished the season with a 11-1 record, the Cardinals are going to need some help to make the cut for the final four. The best chance of Louisville getting into the playoffs is if they make it to the ACC conference championship game, and win. Which means two ACC teams have to beat Clemson for the Cardinals to represent the Atlantic division.
Let’s say Clemson doesn’t drop a game or only loses one, U of L still has slim chance of getting in. Louisville can fill the roll of “best one-loss team” in the nation and make their case, but they need other top teams in the nation – Washington, Ohio State and Michigan – to start dropping games.
Currently, it seems as the champion of the SEC and Big Ten will lock down two spots. Right now, it looks like Alabama and the winner of the Ohio State-Michigan game will own those two spots. Which leaves two slots vacant.
The remaining power-five conference are the Big 12, ACC and PAC 12. Baylor is the Big 12’s highest ranked team (No. 11), Clemson is the ACC’s highest ranked team (No. 4) and Washington is the PAC 12’s highest (No. 5). The current favorites to land in the CFP are Clemson and Washington.
This is the problem of leaving your fate in other’s hands. If Louisville defeated Clemson in Death Valley, they could have controlled their own destiny and stayed on a collision course with the College Football Playoffs. Since U of L couldn’t take care of business, they’re forced to rely on other teams.
Photo by Laurel Slaughter / The Louisville Cardinal