2013-14 Louisville Cardinals Predictions and College Football Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 7/15/2013
The Cardinals face a different task from most teams in the country. Their schedule is easy. Really easy. Too easy. Given what they face and the talent they have, the only acceptable outcome is an undefeated regular season. Nothing else would be good enough. That creates some pressure that will be unique and intense for this program and for coach Charlie Strong. The players and coaching staff will have to be sure not to read their own press clippings or to believe that they are entitled to wins. They will have to get focused and prepared for every game regardless of how simple it might seem. Better teams than this one have failed to go undefeated when expected to, so it is a tall task.
On top of it all, the team will have to adapt to playing in a modified conference while realizing that it is only their home for one year before they head to the ACC. That’s another excuse for the team to take things too lightly and put forward a lesser effort if they are ready for what they face.
The offense all focuses on QB Teddy Bridgewater, a strong Heisman candidate and a contender for a high lottery draft slot next spring if he continues to play as well as he has. Sometimes the issue for a quarterback is a lack of talent. In Bridgewater’s case the trick is going to be to figure out a way to dish the ball out to keep his tremendous amount of talent around him all happy. Three of the top four receivers from last year return and are joined by blue-chip recruits, transfers, and emerging players already on the roster. There isn’t a team in the FBS that is deeper at the pass catching positions than the Cardinals. It’s all just about finding chemistry and the right mix. That’s a good kind of problem to have.
Defensively, the team needs to find a way to pressure opposing passers. They averaged well under two sacks per game last year and gave opponents far too long to set up their offense. There isn’t an obvious solution this year from an addition of talent or change in approach, so it will be important to watch the team closely early on to see if they have found a way to improve here.
The biggest factor for success here is going to be head coach Charlie Strong. Strong has been very successful in turning the program around since arriving from Florida, and he is very highly paid as a result. Given the soft schedule, though, Strong will have to work very hard to be sure his team is ready and that they are prepared for any creative twists opponents may throw at them out of desperation. So far I have certainly felt like Strong is a major asset to this program — one they need to continue to work very hard to keep around. This season will be a very good test of whether that is indeed the case for the long term.
Louisville Schedule Analysis
It’s the final year before heading to the ACC for the Cardinals, and their farewell gift is an easy schedule. The toughest game of the year is probably their last at neighbors Cincinnati to close out the season, but the transition to Tommy Tuberville isn’t likely to be smooth, so the Bearcats aren’t likely to be the team they have been recently. Outside of that road trips to Kentucky, Temple and UConn could be mildly interesting, and Houston has some potential to be a test at home. If Teddy Bridgewater is the QB and Charlie Strong is the coach that people think they are, though, then they have the real potential to win a whole lot of games, and say goodbye to their Big East past with a real bang. There isn’t a game here that the Cardinals shouldn’t be able to comfortably win. That doesn’t mean that they will win them all, but they don’t have easy excuses for any losses.
2013-14 Louisville Betting Odds and Trends
The Cardinals sit as a surprisingly strong contender to win the National Championship at +2500. They will only be in the new American Athletic Conference for one year, but they are heavily favored at -160 to win the conference title. QB Teddy Bridgewater is deservedly seen as a strong Heisman contender at +1300. Louisville opens their season on the first day of September and is favored by 16 points at home against Ohio. (All odds are from BetOnline) Despite a strong record, the Cardinals were a pitiful 5-7 ATS last year. They went “over” the total six times in 11 tries.
2013-14 Louisville Cardinals Predictions and College Football Picks
I like Strong, I like Bridgewater, and it’s hard not to like the schedule. There are a few minor challenges, but Louisville should be favored 12 times, and I expect 12 wins. An undefeated Louisville team could be an interesting wrench in BCS discussions at the end of the year, so that’s another reason to hope for them not to falter. This team will live up to the hype, and Bridgewater offers some value in Heisman futures compared to others.
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