I learned a long time ago that making game predictions on the team-specific sports website you run is a no-win game. You either pick the team you're a fan of to win, or you anger your readers (who will come back and gloat when your prediction is wrong as if you didn't want the team you're a fan of to win). I don't like making people angry and I don't like being disingenuous, so usually I either refrain from predictions or only make them when I truly believe Louisville is going tow in.
Along the same lines, season-long college football predictions in August are also worthless. Far too little is known and far too much has yet to happen for anyone to have any real grasp on what might take place in a November tilt between a pair of teams that have yet to take the field.
And yet, this post comes back each and every year. I'm a sucker for tradition. And it's kind of fun.
In the spirit of full disclosure, here are my year-by-year prediction results, beginning in 2006.
2006: PREDICTED: 11-1; ACTUAL: 11-1
2007: PREDICTED: 11-1; ACTUAL: 6-6
2008: PREDICTED: 6-6; ACTUAL: 5-7
2009: PREDICTED: 4-8; ACTUAL: 4-8
2010: PREDICTED: 5-7; ACTUAL: 6-6
2011: PREDICTED: 6-6; ACTUAL 7-5
Please keep in mind that the following predictions will have no bearing on my prediction once the actual game rolls around. For example, I picked Kentucky to beat Louisville in this post a year ago, and then changed that on Sept. 17.
I just...I just don't like to be tied down, all right?
GAME ONE: vs. KENTUCKY
We can talk about the weather, we can talk about how it's the first game of the season for a young team, we can talk about how unpredictable rivalry showdowns can be; the bottom line is that Louisville has the better players and the better coaching staff. If they don't win on Sunday it will have been because multiple people made unfathomable mistakes.
CC Prediction: Louisville 28, Kentucky 13
GAME TWO: vs. MISSOURI STATE
Everyone stay healthy.
CC Prediction: Louisville 42, Missouri State 7
GAME THREE: vs. NORTH CAROLINA
The next three games are all terrifying in their own right, but this one has stood out to me all offseason. Yes they have a new head coach, and yes they're dealing with some off-the-field stuff, but let's not forget that a lot of the players who helped the Tar Heels beat Louisville last Oct. will be wearing Carolina Blue again this season. Larry Fedora has a veteran quarterback in Bryn Renner and a 1,200-yard rusher in Gio Bernard at his disposal. I'll be very surprised if this isn't one of the tightest games of the season.
CC Prediction: North Carolina 21, Louisville 20
GAME FOUR: AT FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL
The Panthers pulled the shocker last season and will be out for blood again with the national spotlight shining on them, but Charlie Strong isn't going to let the season get away in September. Also, T.Y. Hilton isn't walking through that inflatable tunnel.
CC Prediction: Louisville 31, Florida International 17
GAME FIVE: AT SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI
The old rivals from Hattiesburg are back, and to be frank, they still hate us. Larry Fedora is gone and so is quarterback Austin Davis, but this will still probably be a game where Louisville is going to have to score in bunches to win.
CC Prediction: Louisville 35, Southern Mississippi 27
GAME SIX: AT PITTSBURGH
Pitt has become U of L's biggest football nemesis, as the Cards have dropped four straight games to the Panthers, all but one of which by 17 points or more. The 20-3 beatdown Pitt put on Louisville back in 2010 remains the only game Charlie Strong has lost by double-digits during his time as the Cardinal head coach. The madness stops in 2012.
CC PREDICTION: Louisville 27, Pittsburgh 9
GAME SEVEN: vs. SOUTH FLORIDA
This has the potential to be the game of the year in the conference, which is why it's a shame it has to be played in October. The best environment PJCS has seen in years houses a shootout highlighted by the play of Teddy Bridgewater and B.J. Daniels. The veteran prevails in the best game the Big East sees all year.
CC Prediction: South Florida 41, Louisville 38
GAME EIGHT: vs. CINCINNATI
Morale is down, but a Friday night rivalry game on national television won't allow for anything less than an electric environment. The Cards stay in the hut for the league title and bring the Keg of Nails back home for the first time since 2007.
CC Prediction: Louisville 24, Cincinnati 17
GAME NINE: vs. TEMPLE
Finally, somewhat of a break in the schedule. We're better than Temple at football.
CC Prediction: Louisville 30, Temple 10
GAME TEN: AT SYRACUSE
Steve Kragthorpe isn't here anymore, which means we don't lose to Syracuse in football. The Cards give their friends to the North one final Big East parting gift.
CC Prediction: Louisville 31, Syracuse 14
GAME ELEVEN: vs. CONNECTICUT
The final home game of the season comes against a team with one of the best defenses in the country, but which has struggled to find the endzone all season. The result isn't the most aesthetically pleasing home finale.
CC Prediction: Louisville 17, Connecticut 6
GAME TWELVE AT RUTGERS
Big East title implications are flying around all over the place in the season finale. It's also really, really cold. Full disclosure, I initially had Rutgers winning this game and my intention all along has been to pick Louisville to finish 9-3, but I've been one win short in each of Charlie's first two seasons so I'm making a last second change.
CC Prediction: Louisville 24, Rutgers 20
FINAL RECORD: 10-2 (6-1)