Louisville football finds itself in an unfamiliar place entering week nine of the season. The Cards are currently in second place in the ACC and they are in the driver’s seat for a birth to the conference championship game. UofL tied for the division lead in 2016 but not only did they not get to play in the championship game but they also only won 9 games that season. That was with one of the best quarterbacks in the history of college football producing an absurd Heisman season.
There is a chance for Louisville to have a truly special season when you look at the recent history of the program. The Cards haven’t had a season with double-digit wins in a decade and they haven’t won a conference championship since 2012. But there is also a path to another season of disappointment like 2016 where this team starts hot but they finish the season with a thud against teams that they could, and maybe should beat.
The best-case scenario for Louisville football may seem obvious. They win out find a way into the playoff and win the national championship. But if we’re being realistic, the Cards haven’t had a season that would lend to the idea that they won’t drop at least one more game. However, their schedule lines up to have that “special” season double-digit wins and a shot at the conference championship.
If UofL beats Duke this weekend, Jeff Brohm’s history says that he’ll lead the Cards to a loss against Virginia Tech. That still gives the Cards a chance to go 10-2 in the regular season and a chance at the conference championship. This would be the best season for Louisville football since they joined the ACC and it would include a win over their rival, Kentucky. We’re being realistic here and in reality, this would be the best season Louisville fans could have imagined in Jeff Brohm’s first year.
But what if the remainder of the season goes in the opposite direction? You can make a fair argument that UofL has lost to the worst team in the ACC in Pitt. You can easily look at the balance of the schedule and only see Virginia as a sure win. Could they lose out?
They won’t lose out. But, what if the Pitt loss was a sign of things to come? Pitt is a bad team and Louisville’s schedule looks much different than it did a few weeks ago. They follow the Duke game with a much improved Virginia Tech squad. Virginia just knocked off North Carolina. Miami was always a very dangerous team and they still are. Then you have Kentucky.
If you’re looking at the worst-case scenario for Louisville football this season, it’s 7-5 with the only remaining win coming against a Virginia team that currently has one win against an FBS opponent. It’s very unlikely to happen but a month ago UofL had three teams left on the schedule that had a combined two wins between them. They lost to one of those teams and the Hokies and Cavs have 6 wins between them now.
If nothing else, this is one of the most interesting times in recent Louisville football history. Jeff Brohm could lead this program to a result that hasn’t happened since Charlie Strong was pacing the sideline. Or he could end the season with a continuation of the average finishes fans have seen since the program joined the ACC. The game against Duke will likely give us a feel for which way it will go.