By staff —
Football’s season opener is eight months away, but it’s never a bad time to talk football.
Louisville’s 2018 schedule is set as the Cardinals enter their fifth year in the ACC.
A lot can happen between now and September, but our staff predicts how coach Bobby Petrino’s team will fare in 2018:
Dalton Ray, 8-4
Replacing Lamar Jackson won’t be easy, but the Louisville offense has a lot of promise with nearly everyone else returning.
The defense, like in 2017, is the issue. Peter Sirmon stepping down is a step in the right direction, but whoever comes in has a huge mess to clean up.
Louisville won’t beat Alabama or Clemson. The make-or-break games come against Florida State, Georgia Tech and North Carolina State.
If the Cardinals can sweep that bunch, they could have a 10-win season in sights.
Alas, I see U of L going 2-1 against that group, losing to Alabama and Clemson and then dropping a game they shouldn’t.
Matt Bradshaw, 9-3
After losing Jackson, it’s safe to say football has a somewhat uncertain future ahead.
They face Alabama in the 2018 season opener and Clemson on the road. Other tough matches remain, such as Florida State at home and Boston College away.
Overall, Louisville might look better with a boost in strength of schedule, but will find themselves hard-pressed to win more than nine games from the 2018 schedule.
Conner Farrell, 7-5
Never been too keen on “way too-early” season predictions, especially with how much can change in the coming months.
Nevertheless, there are going to be question marks at a lot of positions, not only for the Cards but their opponents as well.
The return of defensive end Jon Greenard and wide receiver Jaylen Smith are big gets for the squad.
Boasting the 34th ranked recruiting class, Louisville should be ready to go on Sept. 1 when they face Alabama, who opened up as four-touchdown favorite.
Micah Brown, 8-4
Assuming Petrino returns for a fifth season, it is plausible to believe next year’s football team will have a fair amount of success, even against one of its toughest schedules to date.
Even if Jackson returned for his senior year, it is highly unlikely the Cards would have much of a shot against defending national champion Alabama.
With Jackson leaving for the NFL, I believe football will drop games against Alabama, Clemson, at Virginia and N.C. State.
Weston Payne, 8-4
Louisville’s 2018 season can go one of two ways: Pass can seamlessly slide into the massive hole made by the departure of Jackson or there will be some controversy as Louisville looks to find its new identity.
Louisville hopes to find that identity early as they face the reigning national champions.
The Jackson era is finished at Louisville, however the offense will be just fine. Pass takes over at quarterback and wide receiver Jaylen Smith returning for his senior season.
With a talented recruiting class coming in to fill holes on the defense, the 2018 season looks promising.
The schedule is favorable for the Cardinals, however they do open with the national champions Alabama in Orlando and have road match up with Clemson.
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File photo / The Louisville Cardinal