David Purdum with ESPN posted today the lines set for 2015's Golden Nugget Games of the Year for the upcoming college football season. Unlike pre-ACC member seasons where Louisville would be lucky to have a single game mentioned, the Cardinals have several games listed and they again reflect the challenging nature of this season's schedule. Here are the games and a quick look at each.
Louisville (+11.5) vs. Auburn in Atlanta
Auburn has consistently been a double-digit favorite in this game in whatever sportsbook you look at, mostly based on the fact that Guz Malzahn always fields an offensive machine and Louisville has a ton of question marks on its own offense. Still, it's worth noting that 5Dimes had the line at Auburn -10 back in February and Auburn -12.5 in April. I wouldn't be surprised to see the number tighten up closer to the season starting if bettors get the sense that the quarterback position is settled, but I'd still be shocked to see it get into single digits. Auburn will likely be a contender in the SEC West this year so the Cardinals will have their hands full in the opener.
Clemson at Louisville (+3)
Depending on how Louisville looks in the first two games of the season, I wouldn't be shocked to see this closer to a pick 'em by the time they actually kickoff. Clemson travels to Louisville on five days rest and is now down an additional offensive lineman after Isaiah Battle left school for the supplemental draft. Given the way Louisville's defense handled Clemson last year and they'll already have faced similar offenses against Auburn and Houston, Louisville should be prepared for that one. It also won't hurt that the Clemson front seven that Louisville couldn't do a thing with last year is almost entirely off to the NFL.
Louisville (+12) at Florida State
This one could be anywhere by the time the game gets here, but +12 at Florida State makes some sense if Everett Golson is decent at quarterback for Florida State. Doak Campbell is as difficult a place as Louisville will play on a regular basis and this year should be no different. If Louisville somehow manages to beat Clemson in September, this game could be for control of the Atlantic Division. FSU is going to be very young in 2015 but it won't be any less talented than it was
Louisville (-2.5) at Kentucky
The summer of "Kentucky is favored this year" lasted like, what, four weeks? Louisville will travel to Lexington this year and, yes, DeVante Parker is gone. Nevertheless, there's almost no reason to preview a game that nobody has a clue what either lineup will look like by year's end. But I will anyway! Louisville's front seven controlled Kentucky last year and should be every bit as good, if not better, this year. Meanwhile, Bud Dupree and Za'Darius Smith are gone and Louisville probably won't be relegated to using its 3rd string quarterback this time. Neither is Louisville likely to give up two defensive touchdowns. Obviously, I could be wrong, but it doesn't look to me like 2015 is the year Kentucky ends its losing streak to Louisville.