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Louisville Football: Who are the five best players the Cardinals will face during the 2016 season?

Cardinal Authority takes a look at the five best players the University of Louisville football team will face during the 2016 season.

The Louisville Cardinals has another tough schedule on the horizon this season, starting with the first game of the season is Sept. 1 against Charlotte in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

The Cardinals' schedule will feature several Heisman Trophy candidates and a potential No. 1 draft pick in the NFL this season.

Here's a listing of the top five players the Cardinals will face on the gridiron:

1. DeShaun Watson, QB, Clemson

Game date: Oct. 1 at Clemson

The potential No. 1 draft pick and Heisman favorite threw for 199 yards and two touchdowns but had two interceptions last season against the Cardinals in a 20-17 win by Clemson. He keeps plays alive with his legs and posted the nation’s first 4,000-yard passing, 1,000-yard rushing season. Watson is looking to get Clemson back into the national title game and Louisville will be one of their major roadblocks.

2. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

Game date: Sept. 17 at PJCS

Cook missed a game last season and still led the ACC with 1,691 yards and 19 touchdowns. He had 163 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the Seminoles 41-21 victory over the Cardinals in Tallahassee, Fla. 

All Cook did last season was lead the ACC with 1,691 rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns -- and that was despite missing one game and playing hurt in several more. FSU’s offensive line should be better this season, and that should mean bigger things for the junior Cook in 2016.

3. Derwin James, DB, Florida State

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound James was a monster as a freshman for the Seminoles and will be one of the best defenders on a team loaded with potential pros. James had 91 tackles as a freshman, including six and a sack against Louisville. He's the big-play guys for the Seminoles on the defensive side of the ball.

4. Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

Williams might be higher on this list had he played last season. He went down in the first game with a season-ending neck injury but is back and reports are he's better than ever. He had 57 catches for 1,030 yards and six TDs for the Tigers' offense in 2014.

5. Greg Ward Jr., QB, Houston

Game date: Nov. 17 at Houston

Andre Ware won the Heisman Trophy at Houston 27 years ago and Ward is expected to be in the conversation. He's going to be much better in the second year under Tom Herman's direction in the offense. Ward had 236 yards passing and three touchdowns and 98 yards rushing in a 34-31 win over Louisville last season in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.


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