It's the final month of the offseason, and just about every preseason top 25 that has been released in magazine or internet form has featured Louisville. The one distinction the Cards haven't received from any network or individual is a top 10 nod.
At least that was the case until Stewart Mandel busted out his preseason rankings for Fox Sports on Wednesday.
Expect the Cardinals, which won six of their last seven a year ago, to take a sizeable step forward in Bobby Petrino's third season. Dangerous dual-threat QB Lamar Jackson, who shredded Texas A&M in the Music City Bowl, leads the way. UL has both a deep backfield and receiving corps. Last year's Top 20 defense brings back eight starters, most notably pass rusher Devonte Fields and DT DeAngelo Brown.
Mandel has Alabama as his preseason No. 1, with ACC powers Florida State and Clemson checking in at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. U of L opponent Houston is ranked No. 20, while ACC Coastal Division favorites North Carolina and Pittsburgh show up at No. 21 and No. 25.
You can see the full top 25 here.