Sports Illustrated is the latest sports entity to come out with its official preseason top 25 for the 2017 college football season, and the powers that be over there have Louisville ranked 14th.
14. Louisville Cardinals
Last year: 9–4 (7–1 ACC); Lost to LSU in Citrus Bowl
Player you need to know: Senior Reggie Bonnafon has been an all-purpose player for Louisville’s offense during his career, and he’ll spend his fourth season as the team’s No. 1 running back. He began as a quarterback in 2014, then played (mostly) running back in ’15 before moving to wide receiver in ’16. During his last stint in the backfield he was fifth on the team in rushing with 175 yards, but this time around he’ll be the lead back. Though quarterback Lamar Jackson, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, led the Cards in rushing last year (1,571 yards), watch out for Bonnafon, who at 6' 3" and 212 pounds will be a fast, physical presence in the ground game.
Path to the playoff: Nonconference games against Purdue (Sept. 2) and at Kentucky (Nov. 25) should be easy, but the ACC Atlantic will be tough. The Cardinals host Clemson (Sept. 16) and go to Florida State (Oct. 21). If they split those and still win the division, the conference championship could be a playoff play-in.
I’m sure fans of The Lexington Basketball Academy will take the first line of the “path to the playoff” section in stride.
Other ranked teams of note: Florida State (2), Clemson (7), South Florida (17), Miami (20) and Virginia Tech (24).
Fourteen teams in college football history have returned a Heisman Trophy winner. Only one of those teams, the 1991 BYU Cougars, have started that season ranked outside the preseason top 10. BYU began that season ranked No. 19.
Louisville was No. 17 in the Amway Coaches Poll that was released earlier this month. The preseason AP Top 25 will be unveiled on Aug. 21.