Scott Satterfield has ruined this tradition.
This used to be a fun post where each year I would begin by not-so-humbly noting how few times my annual prediction had been off by more than one game, and how when it had, it was typically because of some totally unforeseeable program collapse.
Now, I write to you on this eve of Cardinal football coming off of back-to-back-to-back years in which my preseason prediction has been off by four or more games. It was one thing in 2018, when I echoed the masses with a 7-5 call before what might have been the worst U of L football season in history. There’s only mild shame in that. The real embarrassment stems from the past two seasons, where I was clearly more scarred than I realized heading into 2019, and far more optimistic than I should have been a season ago.
Before we begin an attempt at a 2021 bounce-back, here’s the full rundown of 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
2019: PREDICTED: 3-9; ACTUAL: 7-5
2020: PREDICTED: 8-3; ACTUAL: 4-7
Now let’s dive into 2020 ...
GAME ONE: vs. Ole Miss
Louisville does its part to keep the final game of college football’s opening weekend interesting. After falling into a large first half hole, they storm all the way back to get within three, but, as was so often the case a year ago, they just can’t get over that final hump.
The Cards start the season with a loss, and opinions about the 2021 season remain split for at least another couple of weeks.
CC Prediction: Ole Miss 42, Louisville 32
GAME TWO: vs. Eastern Kentucky
Week two will be all about the return of a (mostly) normal environment to Cardinal Stadium and keeping everyone healthy before a critical final two games of September.
Enjoy the tailgating.
CC Prediction: Louisville 49, Eastern Kentucky 10
GAME THREE: vs. Central Florida
More than a few Louisville fans are pointing to this contest as the potential swing game on Louisville’s schedule.
The Knights have about 95 percent of the power conference transfers in America on their roster, they pulled off a big comeback win over Boise State in their season-opener, and should be well-rested after handling Bethune-Cookman in week two.
The heartbreak isn’t quite as significant as it was in 2013, but it’s close.
CC Prediction: Central Florida 38, Louisville 37
GAME FOUR: At Florida State
A game that’s certainly seeming a little more daunting now than it did a week ago after Florida State pushed No. 9 Notre Dame to the brink in its Sunday night opener. The Seminoles still have significant questions at quarterback, and Louisville has fared well against the ‘Noles since joining the ACC, even in down years.
Scott Satterfield gets a little bit of breathing room from the fan base after the most impressive performance of the season.
CC Prediction: Louisville 38, Florida State 24
GAME FIVE: At Wake Forest
That breathing room disappears as Wake continues its recent trend taking the Cardinal fan base down several notches in a humbling road defeat.
CC Prediction: Wake Forest 34, Louisville 21
GAME SIX: vs. Virginia
The most positive thing about the 2020 Louisville football season is that even when it became apparent that it was something of a lost cause and that a large chunk of the fan base had checked out, the team never stopped playing with 100 percent intensity. That mentality serves them well in another bounce-back performance that gives everyone a little bit of hope.
CC Prediction: Louisville 42, Virginia 24
GAME SEVEN: vs. Boston College
Always the grossest game of the season, but usually for a different reason every year. This year, it’s the simplest reason. Thankfully, the Cards find a way to prevail in this slop-fest.
CC Prediction: Louisville 22, Boston College 20
GAME EIGHT: At NC State
The Wolfpack were pretty much the only ACC team that looked impressive in a non-conference game in week one. They still won’t win more than nine games, but they’ll handle U of L in Raleigh.
CC Prediction: NC State 40, Louisville 21
GAME NINE: vs. Clemson
We should storm the field.
CC Prediction: Clemson 48, Louisville 20
GAME TEN: vs. Syracuse
A much-needed drop in class comes at the perfect time. The move from Algebra III back to basic times tables does wonders for the psyches of everyone associated with the program.
CC Prediction: Louisville 41, Syracuse 19
GAME ELEVEN: At Duke
The Cards couldn’t have asked for a better end-of-conference stretch to both get bowl eligible and get some confidence back going into the Kentucky game.
CC Prediction: Louisville 42, Duke 13
GAME TWELVE: vs. Kentucky
Louisville saves its best moment of the season for the last game of the season. The Governor’s Cup Trophy returns to its rightful home and Kentucky fans are humbled for a solid two weeks before convincing themselves in early January that 2022 is the year they will win the SEC.
The mood heading into bowl season/the offseason more positive than anyone would have imagined in late October/early November.
CC Prediction: Louisville 28, Kentucky 27
FINAL RECORD: 7-5 (5-3)
I would be just fine if we went 11-1 and made me wrong by four games once again.