A late August/early September tradition unlike any other.
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 to win.
Along the same lines, season-long college football predictions made before the season starts 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. Plus it's kind of fun.
In the spirit of full disclosure, here are my year-by-year prediction results, beginning all the way back in 2006 (I am 95 in Internet years):
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
2012: PREDICTED: 10-2; ACTUAL: 10-2
2013: PREDICTED: 11-1; ACTUAL: 11-1
2014: PREDICTED: 9-3; ACTUAL: 9-3
Three straight years on the button. Obviously, there's a lot at stake here.
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 Louisville to lose to Syracuse and Notre Dame before the start of last season, but had an understandable change of heart by the time those games actually rolled around.
It's cool because you all are wrong a lot every year, too.
Let's shoot for the first four-year streak of perfection in CC history.
GAME ONE: vs. AUBURN
This year, a lot like last year, it feels like having the week one result would make picking the rest of the season a much, much easier task. Alas, we soldier on and do the best we can.
Auburn is a trendy playoff pick and starts the season in the top 10 of anyone and everyone's preseason top 25. Still, the Tigers have more question marks than a team you'd expect with their preseason credentials. I'll be shocked if this is game still isn't in jeopardy deep into the second half, and if Louisville was more shored up at quarterback and on the offensive line, I wouldn't hesitate to pick the Cards here.
Instead, I shield myself from your tomato throws.
CC Prediction: Auburn 31, Louisville 21
GAME TWO: vs. HOUSTON
The Cougs have been something of a trendy pick to win 10 games this season, but their offense is extremely inexperienced, and their O-line appears on paper to be in worse shape than Louisville's. "Trap game" will be tossed around liberally this week regardless of what the Cards do against Auburn, but U of L is clearly the superior side here.
CC Prediction: Louisville 31, Houston 17
GAME THREE: vs. CLEMSON
I've been saying for a while now (and late this summer so has seemingly everyone else), but I think Louisville gets this one. The Cards and Bobby Petrino typically take care of business when they get their shot at the Thursday night spotlight inside PJCS, especially when there's a "Blackout" involved.
CC Prediction: Louisville 28, Clemson 27
GAME FOUR: vs. SAMFORD
Everybody stay healthy.
CC Prediction: Louisville 56, Samford 7
GAME FIVE: AT NC STATE
Everyone seems to be buying the "NC State as sleeper" hype. Well I'm not, Doug. The Pack beat down every bad team on their schedule last season and didn't come closer than 12 points (a 30-18 loss to the Cards) against any of the formidable squads on their slate. Jacoby Brisett is great and the offense will put up numbers, but that defense couldn't keep anyone on this site from rushing for 100 yards, and in the end that will keep NC State from being significantly better than they were a year ago.
CC Prediction: Louisville 38, NC State 30
GAME SIX: AT FLORIDA STATE
Another team that I'm more down on than most is Florida State. They are recruiting at an absurd level right now, so if the rest of the ACC wants to get them, I think this needs to be the year. Louisville has their first bye week before this game, while the 'Noles will be coming off a rivalry game against Miami and could be looking forward to a showdown with Coastal Division favorite Georgia Tech the week after.
I would not be shocked at all to see U of L come back from Tallahassee with a win, but in the end, I'm predicting the 'Noles escape with a 2014-esque "how the hell did we lose that game" victory.
CC PREDICTION: Florida State 34, Louisville 31
GAME SEVEN: vs. BOSTON COLLEGE
The much easier second half of the season starts and the Cards let their guard down a little bit. The offense struggles mightily and Bobby Petrino expresses his displeasure during the postgame press conference. Steve Addazio's team still flies back to Boston with an L.
CC PREDICTION: Louisville 20, Boston College 10
GAME EIGHT: AT WAKE FOREST
The offense responds accordingly a week later against what should still be one of the youngest teams in all of college football.
CC Prediction: Louisville 42, Wake Forest 14
GAME NINE: vs. SYRACUSE
Whether it's the 10-9 thriller or that first home loss under Steve Kragthorpe, home games against Syracuse don't typically serve as pleasant memories. This game is no exception as the Cards win ugly for the second time in three games.
CC Prediction: Louisville 24, Syracuse 13
GAME TEN: vs. VIRGINIA
Revenge on Mike London and company comes 14 months after the Cards were forced to taste ACC defeat for the first time.
CC Prediction: Louisville 40, Virginia 10
GAME ELEVEN: AT PITTSBURGH
For whatever reason, Louisville has always struggled with the Panthers. This particular struggle costs them their shot at winning the Atlantic Division. We are all very sad.
CC Prediction: Pittsburgh 31, Louisville 23
GAME TWELVE vs. KENTUCKY
This game always terrifies me, and I think it's going to be another situation like last year where Kentucky has far more to play for than Louisville. Plus, in this instance, the Cards are coming off a week in which their dreams of an ACC title were just crushed.
Still, it's Louisville playing Kentucky in the sport of football.
CC Prediction: Louisville 37, Kentucky 24
FINAL RECORD: 9-3 (6-2)
I will gladly accept being wrong by a game or two this season, if the wrong is in the right direction. Did that make sense? I'm saying I want Louisville to win more than nine games. Should have just said that.
What say you?