Cardinal Authority staff predicts the season

It’s Game Day! The University of Louisville football team will kickoff the season tonight in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium at 8 o’clock, hosting Miami. The Cardinal Authority staff has this predictions column of the season for the Cardinals.

JODY DEMLING, Cardinal Authority Publisher

Miami at Louisville: Bobby Petrino has been waiting for this moment since he picked up the phone and it was Tom Jurich back in January. He has the team pumped and the Black Out adds to the excitement (both for the players and the fans). I know Miami will be better than they were in the Russell Athletic Bowl, but still not good enough. Cards 34, Miami 24

Murray State at Louisville: The Racers are in for a long day. It should be much worse than the 21-9 win by the Cardinals in the 2011 opener. Petrino will get to see what some of the backups can do in a game situation. The spread will be 30-plus and Petrino covers these type games. Cards 56, Racers 7

Louisville at Virginia: Cards have won 10 of the past 13 road openers and this will be the first one on the road in the ACC. The two teams have only met twice but will be ‘rivals’ and play each year in the ACC. Nice stadium to get the first road ACC win in for U of L. Cards 45, Virginia 21

Louisville at Florida International: FIU won with T.Y. Hilton and almost won with a flooded stadium against the Cardinals. Neither will happen this season as the Panthers are really struggling under Ron Turner. Could – and will get ugly – early in this one on the road. Cards 63, FIU 7

Wake Forest at Louisville: Demon Deacons might be the worst team in the ACC. Had just 94 total yards and gave up seven sacks in a loss to UL-Monroe last weekend. Cards should move to 5-0 in a rather easy manner. Cards 55, Wake 7

Louisville at Syracuse: It was always a tough – or tougher than it should have been – contest in the Big East days. Syracuse knocked the Cardinals from the ranks of the unbeaten in 2012 and could do it again this season. I think the Cardinals have a little too much firepower this time. Cards 28, Syracuse 21

Louisville at Clemson: Cards have won two in a row against ranked foes, but they have been few and far between – six since 2008 season – because of the conference and weaker schedule. Now, the Cardinals will get Clemson and a shot at a few other ranked opponents. This one will be tough. The Tigers are 18-2 the last five seasons hosting and ACC opponent with the average margin of victory in those 20 games being 19 points. Clemson 34, Louisville 24

N.C. State at Louisville: Originally, this was going to be a spot I was going to say the Cards could slip up. But remember Petrino’s teams are sensational at home and N.C. State trailed Georgia Southern 17-3 at half. Yes, they won but still likely not enough weapons to hang with the Cardinals. Cards 38, N.C. State 20

Florida State at Louisville: The defending national champions and reigning Heisman Trophy winner will come to town on a Thursday night. It is sure to be an electric night and you know weird things can happen around Halloween. But I just can’t see the Cards pulling it off. FSU 31, Cards 17

Louisville at Boston College: A tougher game than maybe some anticipate. I think Boston College will get better and better under the direction of Steve Addazio and his team could be playing for a bowl bid. I’ll still take the Cardinals to get out of there with a win. Cards 24, Boston College 17

Louisville at Notre Dame: Touchdown Jesus will get to see – hopefully – DeVante Parker come down with a few TDs of his own in this one. Will be a toss up game but the Cards will have plenty to play for with a nice bowl bid on the line. Should be a fun trip all around. Cards 21, Notre Dame 10

Kentucky at Louisville: There will be no knees taken in the rivalry this season. Cards come out, send the seniors off in style and get plenty of reps for some young kids. Cards 45, UK 10

Upset Watch: I picked the Cards at Notre Dame and many would say that is an upset. A lot of national folks saying FSU’s toughest game will be at U of L because it’s away and on a Thursday night.

Upset Watch Out: Boston College is better than most people think and N.C. State is one that I don’t know why but is scares me.

Biggest Moment: Has to be the opener, tonight against Miami. It’s perhaps the biggest opener in the history of the program, the first ACC game, a new (old) coach and it’s against Miami. The place will be bonkers!

Bowl Matchup: I know it’s a dream but how about Louisville vs. Texas on Dec. 29 in the Russell Athletic Bowl. It could happen.

MICHAEL MCCAMMON, Cardinal Authority Senior Staff Writer

Miami at Louisville: The Cardinals crushed Miami 36-9 last December, but much has changed for the two programs since that time. Despite the many changes to both rosters – both have new quarterbacks – the Cardinals multi-threat offense will create enough opportunities. It'll be closer than the past two meetings (U of L wins by an average score of 34-8), but the result will be the same. Bobby Petrino guides the program to a win its ACC debut. Cardinals 37 Hurricanes 27

Murray State at Louisville: The Racers finished among the top in defense among FCS schools in 2013, but they will need to replace a lot, especially in the secondary, where just one player with experience returns. Murray State will prove to be a nice short week opponent, as the Cardinals will have few struggles. Both Will Gardner and Reggie Bonnafon have nice outings at quarterback. Cardinals 62 Racers 13

Louisville at Virginia: The Cardinals first ACC road test will be a tougher challenge than most anticipated when the schedule was first released. The Cavaliers will be better than they were in 2013 – a season that saw UVA go winless in conference play. The Cardinals defense could set the tone with an early score. The Cavs are improved, but not enough as U of L improves to 2-0 in ACC play. Cardinals 33 Cavaliers 20

Louisville at Florida International: FIU won't be much of a challenge for the undefeated Cardinals. Last fall the U of L defense limited the Panthers to just 30 yards of offense and won't do anything to boast about this time around either. The Cardinals clearly outmatch their hosts and dominate from start to finish. Cardinals 69 Panthers 6

Wake Forest at Louisville: The Cardinals enter week 5 undefeated, climbing higher in the polls, and with an offense that ranks among the nation's most potent. The Demon Deacons, who U of L defeated in the 2006 Orange Bowl, won't do anything to slow the high-scoring Cardinals. The defense also continues to post impressive numbers. Cardinals 41 Demon Deacons 14

Louisville at Syracuse: The overall series between the former Big East foes is all even at 6 wins each and it'll take three quarters before the Cardinals are able to build a two score lead in the latest meeting. Blame it on the dome, but the U of L offense struggles throughout. A late score makes it close, but special teams and defense help the Cardinals stay perfect on the season. Cardinals 31 Orange 26

Louisville at Clemson: A crucial game in the race for the ACC Atlantic division lead and could play a role in the college football playoff. A match-up of two top 15 teams, the Cardinals first trip to Death Valley will be a memorable one. The defense will play a significant role in keeping the game close, but the Cardinals drop their first game of the season. Tigers 33 Cardinals 27

N.C. State at Louisville: Following their first loss, the Cardinals find themselves tied with others in the Atlantic division. U of L hosts the Wolfpack in what will serve as separation week in the ACC and it'll be the Cardinals that remain in the division chase. The offense gets back on track and has one of it's largest yardage outputs of the season. Cardinals 44 Wolfpack 13

Florida State at Louisville: The defending national champions arrive at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium for a nationally televised Thursday night contest and it'll be a slug-fest. Just like the last time that FSU visited the Derby City, U of L will full upset mode. An opportunity to get into the ACC Championship game and college playoff discussion will be at stake. Both teams will have their share of highlight plays with the Seminoles securing a victory late. Seminoles 37 Cardinals 33

Louisville at Boston College: Despite the extra time off, the Cardinals arrive at Chestnut Hill still recovering the emotional outing against Florida State. The Louisville offense struggles early, but wakes up in the second half to pull away late. U of L improves to 8-2 on the season. Cardinals 31 Eagles 23

Louisville at Notre Dame: Another marquee match-up on the Cardinals schedule. Likely another contest of a pair of nationally-ranked teams, the Cardinals have the fire-power to defeat the host Irish. The cooler temperatures slow the U of L offense, but the defense has an excellent outing in the team's lowest scoring game of the season. U of L drops a nail-biter. Irish 24 Cardinals 20

Kentucky at Louisville: The Cardinals cap off the regular season in front of another sold out Papa John's Cardinal Stadium and provide plenty of fireworks to create a celebration-like atmosphere. Once again, a pair of Cardinal quarterbacks shine in a game that was out of question before halftime. U of L closes the regular season 9-3. Cardinals 55 Wildcats 17

Upset Watch: When Florida State visits Papa John's Cardinal Stadium the night before Halloween, it will walk into an environment that will play a role in the outcome. The Cardinals will have an opportunity to get back into the playoff picture making an upset against the defending champions a possibility this fall.

Upset Watch Out: Win or lose against FSU, it is possible that U of L could suffer from a bit of a hangover following the much anticipated contest when it travels to Chestnut Hill, Mass., the following weekend. Held in the first week of November, it's also possible that the temperature could be much lower than the players are accustomed to when the Cardinals face Boston College.

Biggest Moment: Kickoff against Miami. The official start of the 2014 season signals an era that has dreamed of for ages. It should kickoff a season that is a success in further moving the University of Louisville program towards the goal of winning a national championship.

EVAN STEWART, Cardinal Authority Intern

Miami at Louisville: This is a big game for both teams, as Miami would love nothing more then to get revenge after being beat 36-9 in the Russell Athletic Bowl, and Louisville needs to start their ACC tenure on a positive note. Both teams will start new quarterbacks, but are expected to have strong running games. Louisville wins 24-17

Murray State at Louisville: Murray state has played the cards close before losing by only 12 points in 2011. Look for freshman quarterback Reggie Bonnafon to get some playing time in this one. Louisville wins 50-10

Louisville at Virginia: The Cavaliers return a solid defense featuring all ACC safety Anthony Harris who led the nation with 8 interceptions last year. Could possibly be a slugfest game as Virginia was 5th in the nation in time of possession last year and have a returning 1,000 yard rusher Kevin Parks. Louisville defense will be looked to keep the pressure on the backfield and contain the running game. Louisville wins 24-10

Louisville at Florida International: As long as T.Y Hilton is not lining up for the Golden Panthers I like Louisville’s chances before they start hitting the meat of their schedule. Look for 2nd teamers to get some playing time in this one as well. Louisville wins 52-3

Wake Forest at Louisville: Similar to Louisville this is a team with a new quarterback and new coach. Louisville will be glad to be playing the only home game of a five game stretch. Louisville wins 35-14

Louisville at Syracuse: Classic trap game here for the Cardinals given their track record at the Carrier Dome, and a matchup at Clemson next week. The front seven will need to contain a number of talented running backs, and an improved Terrel Hunt at quarterback. Louisville wins 17-13

Louisville at Clemson: This will be the true test for the Cardinals to see where they stack up against the ACC heavyweights. Clemson lost a lot of offensive firepower, but have one the toughest defenses in the league. Having a healthy DeVante Parker back would boost the odds for the Cards. Clemson wins 21-17

N.C. State at Louisville: Another potential slip-up game at home the Cardinals have to make sure to avoid turning one loss into two, or a major let down off a big victory. The key will be containing the run game, and force The Pack to throw it. Louisville wins 35-20

Florida State at Louisville: Obviously a big game with the National Champions visiting Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Louisville will need to play a near perfect game if they are going to have a repeat of the 2002 upset. The secondary will have their hands full with Heisman trophy winner Jameis Winston and the Seminole wide outs. FSU wins 42-28

Louisville at Boston College: Boston College looks to replace running back Andre Williams who ran for over 2,100 yards and was a 4th round draft pick by the Giants. Sophomore Myles Willis is the most likely candidate to fill the spot. Florida transfer Tyler Murphy looks to replace 3-year starter Chase Rettig at QB, yet another talented team the Cardinals cannot over look. Louisville wins 34-24

Louisville at Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish return a familiar face under center in Everett Golson who took them to the title game in 2012. The Cardinals have a chance to take advantage of a young defense that might lose more starters due to the recent academic investigation. The players involved are cornerback Keivarae Russell, Defensive end Ishaq Williams, backup line backer Kendall Moore, and leading returning receiver DaVaris Daniels. Louisville wins 24-20

Kentucky at Louisville: The Governor’s cup will be up for grabs at the end of the season, and Kentucky could potentially be playing for a bowl bid. The young talent coach Bob Stoops has been able to recruit bight finally start to blossom under his system. But right now Louisville the upper hand in experience at most positions. Louisville wins 42-17

Upset Watch: At Notre Dame, as we get closer to this game we will know the outcome of the Academic Investigation, and if ends bad for the Irish it could be a long season on the defensive side of the ball.

Upset Watch Out: At Boston College, this is a dangerous game for the Cardinals being between two of the biggest games of the season. The Golden Eagles won seven games last year, and will rebuild an offense around Florida transfer Tyler Murphy.

Biggest Moment: Florida State, this is a game that Louisville does not necessarily have to win, but it will be important to have a good showing. Playing well in this game will show that Louisville will be a contender to win the ACC for years to come. By some miracle if U of L can pull off this upset, it just might be the push to get them to the playoffs.

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