Louisville Cardinals Odds to win the College Football National Championship with Expert Betting Predictions
Was the third year of this Bobby Petrino era a success? It depends how you look at it, I guess. On one hand they won a Heisman with Lamar Jackson - something that doesn't often happen for schools like Louisville - and they were ranked third in the country as late as the middle of November. On the flip side, though, the wheels fell off in horrible, embarrassing fashion late, and the team was exposed as a paper tiger when it really mattered. They had the best look they have ever had at serious national relevance, and they folded badly. And they are still a program that thinks it's okay to have a guy as morally bankrupt as Petrino in charge as long as they win. So, judging the season is all about perspective, I guess.
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2016 in a Nutshell
The team flew out of the gate, winning their first four. Most impressive by far, though, was a 63-20 massacre of then No. 2 Florida State. That moved them up to No. 3, where they stayed for two weeks until they lost a heartbreaker to Clemson in what was easily one of the games of the season. They bounced back to win their next five, with three of those wins by 30 or more points. They were rolling. Then they hit a massive wall. They played a Houston team that had already seen their season fall apart after massive early promise, and they lost by 26. Then, unforgivably, they lost their rivalry game to Kentucky - a joke of a football team if there ever was one. And that was at home, too. They limped into their bowl game against LSU, showed no sign that they cared at all about being there, and lost it by 20. So, the season was 10 very strong games followed by three truly disgraceful ones.
Key Additions and Departures
The Cardinals only had two players drafted, and the higher of them was a long snapper, so they didn't lose program-shaking talent. But they lost a lot of players. The offense returns just four players. QB Lamar Jackson is back, and that's huge, but he has lost his favorite targets and has to hope that new players can step up in a hurry. The defense returns more, but they have been gutted by departures over the last three years - especially up front - and are struggling to catch up from that. The defense is also working with a new defensive coordinator - Todd Grantham is out, and Peter Simon from Mississippi State is in.
The 23-person recruiting class was ranked outside of the Top 30, and aside from potentially running back Colin Wilson it lacks a lot of guys who have a chance to make an immediate impact.
Louisville Cardinals Schedule Analysis
Typical of an ACC schedule, the game really has two highlights - a home game against Clemson early on, and a trip to Florida State later on. Both games are going to be tough. They open against Purdue in Indianapolis in what should be a fairly manageable game but then have a potentially challenging trip to North Carolina - though the Tar Heels have a lot of issues coming into this season. The rest of the schedule ranges from pretty soft to ridiculously easy, and they finish off with a chance for revenge at Kentucky to finish off the season. Clemson and Florida State are likely losses, but the rest of the way the team mostly controls their destiny. They could easily win 10, or they could struggle and lose far more.
2017-18 Louisville Cardinals Betting Odds and Trends
BetOnline has Louisville at +3300 to win the national title, which has them in a cluster of teams behind the Top 12 contenders. That seems a little generous and certainly doesn't offer any value at all. They are tied with Miami as the third choice to win the ACC at +550, but that has them far behind favored Florida State at -110, and Clemson at +350. It's hard to see any value there, either. Jackson is the second choice to win the Heisman at +750, tied with Baker Mayfield and behind favorite Sam Darnold at +425. It's hard to imagine a player repeating - a feat which voters hold in very high regard - on a team as ordinary as this one is likely to be, so while I really like Jackson I don't like that price at all.
2017-18 Louisville Cardinals Predictions and College Football Picks
I'm not hugely optimistic. They are no better than the third-best team in the conference and are a long way from relevant nationally. They just have too many changes in personnel to deal with. Ten regular season wins is in play, but eight or nine seems more likely. This won't be a repeat of the team we saw in the first 10 games last year - though to their credit it shouldn't be anywhere close to a repeat of the team from the last three games, either.
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