By Gabriel Wiest —
Starting Sept. 21, Louisville will enter a five-game stretch against ACC division teams.
Three games into the season, Louisville has made heads turn with two much needed victories over in-state teams. The Cardinals also held their own against football powerhouse Notre Dame despite it being their only loss. While these strides are being noticed, Louisville still needs to prove their conference strength.
In the first game of the season against Notre Dame, Louisville introduced a rushing-oriented offense that fared well for the first half of the game with 161 yards. The Cardinals ended the first half with a one touchdown deficit with a 21-14 score.
Louisville’s depth became an issue against Notre Dame’s deep roaster, with the Irish securing a 35-17 victory. Even though the Irish had a considerable lead, predictions from ESPN had Louisville losing by upwards of 20 points.
In the games against Eastern Kentucky University and Western Kentucky University, Louisville expanded their offensive versatility.
Against Eastern, junior Jawon Pass had a record four throws into the in-zone. However, rushing was still an active strategy during the game, with 322 gained yards.
Louisville’s defense also made huge improvements in their second game against Eastern, shutting out the team. This was a huge confidence boost when the last shut out occurred in 2013 under coach Bobby Petrino when the Cardinals beat Eastern 42-0.
Against Western, Louisville used another mix of rushing and passing that resulted in a 38-21 win. Louisville’s offense had 415 total yards against Western, 210 from rushing and 205 from passing. This nearly even split shows that the offense is not a one-trick pony.
Notably, these in-state rivals are not to the caliber of ACC play, allowing Louisville to test out different plays before facing conference giants.
As Louisville enters this five-game stretch, the competition steadily gets tougher. While Florida State (1-2) will be a challenge, the Seminoles had a rough start to the season with a 31-36 loss against Boise State.
Florida State also struggled against University of Louisiana at Monroe, taking a marginal 45-44 win.
Even with the Seminoles weak performance their first two games, they rallied against ranked UVA taking a slim 31-24 loss.
Continuing through the schedule, Louisville will face off against Boston College (2-1) at Cardinal Stadium. This could bring some competition, however Boston’s only wins were against low-profile teams outside of the ACC.
Similar to Boston College, Wake Forest has had success against teams, however their schedule has been more difficult thus far. They faced off against University of North Carolina winning 24-18.
The competition increases significantly with the likes of UVA and Clemson. Both teams are ranked and capitalize off of play opportunities.
UVA so far has cashed in on a three-game win streak, winning against Florida State in the ACC. Louisville will have many challenges against the Cavaliers. In particular, Louisville’s weak defensive line will need to be flawless or else the quick Cavalier offense will rip through and make plays.
Topping out collegiate football rankings, there is an extremely slim chance Louisville will take the powerhouse Clemson at Cardinal Stadium. The team is still at full strength even after winning the national championship last year.
Head coach Scott Satterfield will lead the team into a challenging part of this season’s schedule. These conference games are important in showing Louisville’s strength in ACC play.
Satterfield hopes to develop a trend of toppling ACC teams in order to make the Cardinals competitive.
Louisville will face off against Florida State on Saturday Sept. 21 at 3:3o p.m. in Tallahassee, Fl.
File Photo / The Louisville Cardinal