It’s time once again for my least favorite post of the entire year. Here’s your annual disclaimer ...
I learned a long time ago that making game predictions on the team-specific sports website you run is a no-win game. You either pick the team you’re a fan of to win, or you anger your readers (who will come back and gloat when your prediction is wrong as if you didn’t want the team you’re a fan of to win). I don’t like making people angry and I don’t like being disingenuous, so usually I either refrain from predictions or only make them when I truly believe Louisville is going to win.
Along the same lines, season-long college football predictions made before the season starts are also worthless. Far too little is known and far too much has yet to happen for anyone to have any real grasp on what might take place in a November tilt between a pair of teams that have yet to take the field.
And yet, this is 14th time in 14 years that I’ve written this post, and it still never fails to elicit the same types of reactions. Although I’m not posting your all’s responses this year since everyone caught onto the schtick and just made sarcastic comments last year. Well played.
Despite all the grumbling, I’ve actually only predicted Louisville would have a worse season than it wound up having twice (Charlie Strong’s first and second seasons). A year ago, people wanted to burn me at the stake for predicting a 7-5 season, when that prediction now seems painfully naive. We also made some notable history last season by missing by more than two games for just the second time. Both times that’s happened, the coach has been fired at the end of the season.
Here’s the CC prediction history:
2006: PREDICTED: 11-1; ACTUAL: 11-1
2007: PREDICTED: 11-1; ACTUAL: 6-6
2008: PREDICTED: 6-6; ACTUAL: 5-7
2009: PREDICTED: 4-8; ACTUAL: 4-8
2010: PREDICTED: 5-7; ACTUAL: 6-6
2011: PREDICTED: 6-6; ACTUAL: 7-5
2012: PREDICTED: 10-2; ACTUAL: 10-2
2013: PREDICTED: 11-1; ACTUAL: 11-1
2014: PREDICTED: 9-3; ACTUAL: 9-3
2015: PREDICTED: 9-3; ACTUAL: 7-5
2016: PREDICTED: 9-3; ACTUAL: 9-3
2017: PREDICTED: 9-3; ACTUAL: 8-4
2018: PREDICTED: 7-5; ACTUAL: 2-10
Now let’s dive into 2019 ...
GAME ONE: vs. Notre Dame
All summer long I’ve felt strangely optimistic about Louisville’s ability to keep this game closer than the rest of the country is anticipating. Maybe it’s the regime change, maybe it’s the seven months these guys have had to spend hearing about the 2018 disaster, maybe it’s the Labor Day night atmosphere, maybe it’s just that it’s week one and weird shit tends to happen.
Notre Dame lost a healthy chunk of the pieces that carried it to the College Football Playoff a year ago. It does, however, return one of the best quarterbacks in the country and maybe the best offensive line Louisville’s going to face this season. This combination makes it difficult to see the Cards springing the first really significant upset of 2019, but it certainly opens the door for U of L to cover the 20(ish)-point spread.
It’s a single digit game for the bulk of the evening on Monday before Notre Dame makes the plays it needs to in order to leave Cardinal Stadium with a two touchdown win.
CC Prediction: Notre Dame 30, Louisville 16
GAME TWO: vs. Eastern Kentucky
EKU is picked to finish third in the Ohio Valley Conference and won’t be the complete pushover that some of Louisville’s more recent FCS opponents have been. Still, Scott Satterfield and company build on the goodwill of a positive week one showing by taking care of the Colonels in appropriately convincing fashion.
CC Prediction: Louisville 42, Eastern Kentucky 17
GAME THREE: vs. Western Kentucky (in Nashville)
The Tyston Helton era in Bowling Green began Thursday night with an embarrassing home loss to FCS Central Arkansas. The Hilltoppers started last season with an equally humiliating loss to Maine, never really got any better through the course of the season, and still damn near beat Louisville on the Cardinals home field. I don’t think that’s going to be a concern this year in Nashville.
CC Prediction: Louisville 31, Western Kentucky 17
GAME FOUR: AT Florida State
Everything went to hell for Louisville last season after the team blew what should have been its third consecutive victory over Florida State. Outside of the 2015 game in Tallahassee, since joining the ACC, U of L has typically had one of its best games of the season against FSU. It’s hard to predict that history repeating with no one having any real idea of what to expect from Willie Taggart’s squad this year.
U of L’s mini-win streak comes to an end in a game where neither team feels like it played especially well.
CC Prediction: Florida State 20, Louisville 13
GAME FIVE: vs. Boston College
Despite the fact that A.J. Dillon is an absolute monster who rushed for something 17,000 yards inside Cardinal Stadium two years ago, this seems to be the game most Louisville fans have circled as the most gettable ACC contest on the slate. Count me among that contingent. The Cards spring a thrilling, mild upset that makes Scott Satterfield the toast of the town for a week.
CC Prediction: Louisville 33, Boston College 30
GAME SIX: At Wake Forest
After a week of talk in Louisville where Cardinal fans are sharing bowl projections and talking about how many conference games the team might be able to win, reality sets in. A very average Wake Forest team once again plays one of its best games of the season against U of L, and tempered expectations return to the Derby City.
CC Prediction: Wake Forest 27, Louisville 13
GAME SEVEN: vs. Clemson
After being limited to a career-low 59 yards passing against Louisville in 2018, Trevor Lawrence walks into Cardinal Stadium with a massive chip on his shoulder.
Clemson is really good at football.
CC Prediction: Clemson 55, Louisville 20
GAME EIGHT: vs. Virginia
A Louisville defense which had overachieved during the first half of the season now looks a bit battered and bruised. The lack of depth that was so much of a talking point during the offseason finally rears its head. Bryce Perkins and company take full advantage.
CC Prediction: Virginia 34, Louisville 17
GAME NINE: At Miami
After three consecutive disappointing performances, Louisville heads South and gives a spirited performance that reinforces the notion that the days of the team quitting after a bit of adversity and that better days for the program are on the horizon. That spirited effort isn’t enough to get the Cards back in the win column.
CC Prediction: Miami 27, Louisville 24
GAME TEN: At NC State
Same story, different week. The effort and the enthusiasm are there, but Louisville’s inability to make winning plays down the stretch again keeps the Cards from springing a road upset.
CC Prediction: NC State 27, Louisville 24
GAME ELEVEN: vs. Syracuse
I’m not buying into the Syracuse hype quite as much as the rest of the world seems to be. This is a team whose offensive production over the last three years has been overly reliant on one player, and that one player isn’t around anymore. Still, they do just enough to rob Louisville of an ugly upset on Senior Day.
CC Prediction: Syracuse 24, Louisville 17
GAME Twelve: At Kentucky
I’ve said a couple of times on the radio that the best case scenario for this season is the fourth season of Friday Night Lights. The team goes through its struggles, beats one team it’s supposed to beat, and then ends the year with an unexpected, emotional victory over its arch-rival, setting the stage for a much better year after. I’m sure I’ll talk myself into that happening when Thanksgiving week rolls around, but I can’t do it right now.
CC Prediction: Kentucky 31, Louisville 20
FINAL RECORD: 3-9 (1-7)
I said last year that I hoped my predictions would be embarrassingly wrong, and they were, just not in the right fashion. Maybe we’re due for a reversal in 2019.
As always, I’d love to look stupid.