College football fans are gifted with the finest regular season in all of sport. No other league packs as much drama, unpredictability, emotion, and titanic consequence into every single week. Of course, we are only human, so we still love to complain about it. Fans point out the numerous paycheck-collector pushover games, imbalanced conference schedules, and migration of elite non-conference matchups away from campus.
For my own gripe, I default to a common complaint: there are certain teams missing from Louisville’s schedule, both near and long-term. Here are five teams that Louisville needs to schedule a series with, pronto.
Cincinnati: Renewing this series is definitely not an original suggestion, because it’s obvious to most Louisville supporters. The most recent meeting with UC is forever emblazoned into the cardinal fan consciousness. Memorable clutch plays from Teddy Bridgewater included a perfectly placed, nearly side-armed touchdown throw to Damian Copeland, and a miraculous fourth and long conversion when he somehow stiff armed a defender while tumbling out of bounds… backwards. Put simply, the more rivalry games on the calendar, the better. They keep the fans and players excited, and create lasting memories. To keep the Keg of Nails under wraps, never to be played for, is an unspeakable tragedy.
Florida: Any possibility to recall the good vibes of the 2013 Sugar Bowl is a winning plan, and what better way to accomplish that than beating Florida again? Petrino and Grantham potentially matching wits is a juicy subplot. Plus, facing a powerful brand name in a crucial recruiting area is invaluable exposure.
Virginia Tech: This inclusion is a technicality, but a necessary one. The Cards and Hokies are in the same conference, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the schedule. Louisville is not slated to face Virginia Tech until the 2020-2021 season, their seventh in the ACC. The Cards’ first trip to Blacksburg is even further on the horizon, beyond 2024. Elvis Dumervil cannot wait that long to be avenged.
Texas: Personally, I wanted to see this game happen as soon as Charlie Strong left for Austin. Not from any animosity or bitterness toward Charlie, I just enjoy unique matchups with intriguing storylines. And Texas remains that, despite the departure of Strong. They were one of the powerhouse names Howard Schnellenberger scheduled to raise Louisville’s profile, so for some the nostalgia would be potent. Their current leader Tom Herman has been quite the thorn in Louisville’s side, so Bobby would surely be eager to atone for the past two meetings. And all of game week, we could pontificate on the hypothetical results of this series had Louisville gotten the Big 12 invite back in 2011.
UCLA: Admittedly this is an unconventional choice. Not much, historically or culturally, connects these two football teams. But Louisville should spice up their nonconference with some West Coast flavor every once in a while. Louisville has only faced three current PAC-12 members ever in football, and one of them is newcomer Utah. The Cards have never visited the Rose Bowl, arguably the most iconic and scenic venue in all of football. Chip Kelly versus Bobby Petrino could beget some thrilling offensive showcases. And I have a quirky fascination with elite basketball programs facing off on the gridiron (I’m the only one alive who seriously wants a Kansas-Indiana football game).
A list like this one would be personal and different for every Cards fan. People are interested in different kinds of matchups and storylines. Everyone has their own desired games, and these are my particular preferences.