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Louisville vs. Alabama: Expectations vs. Mentality

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We’re a little over a month away from kickoff.

Alabama v Auburn Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

I don’t know about you all, but the closer the Alabama games gets, the more I refuse to go into it thinking we’re just going to get our asses thoroughly kicked.

And I guess this take begs the larger question: What role do expectations have in determining one’s mentality?

In this case, we expect Louisville to lose by a lot. This expectation is derived from, more or less, the recent history of the programs, whether it be regular season success, conference titles, national titles, recruiting class ranking, coaching acumen, offense, defense, special teams. And yeah, if you compare Louisville and Alabama on this front, Alabama wins all of them hands down. There’s no arguing with that.

But do these expectations of a blowout have to shade our mentality for this game? Do we have to, in comments sections, to fellow fans, and before the game, perpetuate the idea that Bama is going to run over us, and we’re smarter and more aware of where the program stands because we think this?

I don’t think so, and I don’t want to.

Let me make this clear: I don’t want to adopt the expectations or mentality that we are somehow going to pull this monumental upset off. But I’m not going to sit down in front of the TV the evening of September 1, shut my eyes, and just wait for what every single logistic, observational, and experiential take assumes to be an ass beating.

I want to watch this game divorced from those expectations that are derived from those logistics, observations, and experiences. I want to watch this game with the mentality that, yes, despite the vast swath of everything going against us, we could win. And I think pretty much most Louisville football fans have that mentality, even if it is fleeting.

I want to watch this game excited about what (hopefully) will be the beginning of the Jawon Pass era. I want to see just how much of a step the AFROS have taken since last season. I want to see if Van Gorder is worth a shit, and how long the defense could bend before it breaks against Bama’s attack. And all of these questions that stem from this mentality will ultimately have some sort of answer.

What I mean to say is that the mentality that we’re going to get answers to some pressing questions about the immediate future of Louisville is one we should all be willing to adopt. The tempered expectations will be what they will, but the mentality is something that is not necessarily influenced by those expectations. We can be excited to get these answers, even if they’re not the one we’re seeking.

So in approaching this unique, poignant opportunity for Louisville football, I don’t think we need to prematurely tuck out tail feathers between our legs and assume this whole experience is going to be a net loss. And I’m sure most of the fanbase doesn’t think that.

But for those with tempered excitement going into this game, or trepidation that this is going to be some damning incrimination of Bobby Era 2, I advise you slow your roll a little bit. Sure be nervous, be scared, get down on your knees and pray that Jawon Pass survives the likely onslaught from Bama’s d-line and secondary full of five-stars.

But also we could all do ourselves a favor and adopt the mentality that we’re going to get some real answers as to where this program really stands. In the more immediate sense, we’re going to get some inclination as to the attitude and fight of the players we’ve recruited for the next few years- close game or not.

And I mean, shit, the score’s still 0-0 anyway.