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Tuesday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

Evan Cowles took the Summer Tour to the Appalachian Trail, where he hiked 2,189.1 miles from Georgia to Maine with the lone goal of finishing the trip before the start of Cardinal football season. Mission accomplished.

I_medium Awful news out of Louisiana, where Stefan LeFors' parents, Larry and Susan, lost everything due to the recent flood. Here's how you can help them rebuild.

I_medium ESPN's four ACC writers make give their ultimate predictions for the upcoming season. All four pick Clemson to win the Atlantic and the conference, while Devonte Fields gets one vote for defensive Player of the Year.

I_medium Athlon ranks all 86 games of the first weekend of the college football season, and has Louisville-Charlotte at No. 39.

39. Charlotte at Louisville (Thursday, 7 p.m., ACC regional networks)

Congratulations, you made it. This is one of four FBS games in the first time slot on the first Thursday of the season.

Here are the top five on what is as loaded an opening weekend as I can remember.

1. Oklahoma vs. Houston in Houston (Saturday, noon, ABC)

This could be the most important game of Week 1, or at least the one that could have the greatest impact on perceptions of teams and conferences. The stakes for this game have been clear since the end of last year. The best of the Big 12 takes o the best of the Group of 5. If Houston can beat Oklahoma, College Football Playoff talk will begin — whether or not it's realistic for a Group of 5 team to be among the final four. Oklahoma has some questions to answer of its how, particularly how a rebuilding defense will handle Greg Ward Jr.

2. UCLA at Texas A&M (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., CBS)

We could argue this is the best game of the first week or at least the toughest to read. The game could feature the top pick in the 2017 draft (Texas A&M's Myles Garrett) and 2018 draft (UCLA's Josh Rosen). Both teams could be division contenders, and thus College Football Playoff hopefuls. But they're also flawed enough where neither is a clear top-10 team. It might be the most interesting game to attend, if only for being the best matchup on a campus site rather than a sterile NFL stadium.

3. Ole Miss vs. Florida State in Orlando (Monday, 8 p.m., ESPN)

Chad Kelly and Dalvin Cook re-wrote record books last season. Kelly had the third-best season in total offense and passing yards in SEC history last year. Meanwhile, Cook set Florida State's single-season rushing record. Florida State can establish its national championship contending-bona fides, or Ole Miss can shake up the top five with an upset.

4. USC vs. Alabama in Arlington, Texas (Saturday, 8 p.m., ABC)

These two powers haven't met since the 1985 Aloha Bowl and not in the regular season since 1978. Few matchups will have more talent in the starting lineups. USC, though, is still thin due to NCAA sanctions, and both programs enter this game with uncertain quarterback play. USC has opted for former reserve Max Browne, who has all of 19 career pass attempts, but Nick Saban may be sending a freshman to take the first snap. Based on reputation alone, this could be the best game of the week, but USC has yet to prove it can go toe-to-toe with Alabama's program right now.

5. Notre Dame at Texas (Sunday, 7:30 p.m., ABC)

Any result has to be better for Texas than last year's 38-3 beatdown in South Bend. All eyes will be on both teams' quarterbacks. Brian Kelly insists both DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire will play while Charlie Strong may be casting his lot with freshman Shane Buechele.

North Carolina vs. Georgia and Clemson at Auburn check in at No. 6 and No. 7, respectively.

I_medium Proving that Kentucky football's summer smack talk has zero limit, UK cornerback Derrick Baity says Usain F'ing Bolt wouldn't get off the line of scrimmage against him.

I_medium Penn State is playing a home basketball game against Michigan State at the Palestra this season, which is sort of cool.

I_medium Louisville's not losing to Boston College, Joe.

I_medium UCF is honoring George O'Leary with a statue, which seems ... silly.

I_medium Jody Demling reviews how Louisville's 18 commitments from the class of 2017 fared in the opening games of their respective senior seasons last week.

I_medium Wake Forest has named John Wolford as its starting quarterback for 2016.

I_medium I am having wayyy too much fun with this picture.

Doesn't get old. Not for me. That's all I care about.

I_medium The location for U of L alumni game watch parties in Nashville is changing for this year. We'll have our first "where we're watching" post with all the locations across the country up before next week's game against Charlotte.


I_medium Chicago native Jabari Parker writes about the gun violence plaguing his hometown.

I_medium The smack for the 2018 season-opener is off and running.

I_medium Conference USA belongs to Jeff Brohm and Western Kentucky until someone proves otherwise.

I_medium You're going to love this place, Jack.

I_medium Two U of L field hockey players have been named preseason All-ACC.

I_medium Enter here for your chance to win two tickets to the Florida State game.

I_medium DeVante Parker shirt flash sale is on.

I_medium The Louisville Cardinal has a look at U of L's interim vice president/provost.

I_medium Kelly Dickey has the full list of Cardinal football alumni currently employed by the NFL.

I_medium Yahoo previews the ACC, and sees Florida State running the table. Here's what they say about the Cards:

2015 record: 8-5 (5-3 ACC)
2015 finish: 3rd -€” Atlantic

Overview: Louisville is a team to be feared. Lamar Jackson showed flashes of brilliance at quarterback as a freshman. Now with a full offseason of running Bobby Petrino's offense under his belt, Jackson could be one of college football's breakout stars if he improves his passing. This offense is going to put up numbers, and Todd Grantham's defense — at linebacker especially (hello, Devonte Fields) — is going to swarm its opponents. The Cardinals are probably the third-best team in the ACC but they play the top two teams, division foes FSU and Clemson, in weeks three and five, respectively. Those games are going to be very close, as is a late-season challenge at Houston.

Best-case scenario: Louisville splits the Clemson and Florida State games, giving itself a real path to the ACC title game.

Worst-case scenario: The Cardinals lose to FSU and Clemson and drop a game or two to lesser ACC opponents.

Predicted 2016 conference record: 6-2

I_medium James Quick's Kentucky high school state record for career receptions fell last Friday.

I_medium The U of L men's soccer team, which is looking to bounce back from its first NCAA Tournament miss in nearly a decade, held its annual media day on Monday.

I_medium And finally, R&R is on this afternoon from 3-6. Tweet funny questions so John gets uncomfortable.