The Cardinals, which have become a popular draw on national television, have four games already penciled in for national telecasts (last year, seven of Louisville's 12 games ended up being nationally televised), with the possibility of additional games slated for national broadcasts.
"We're extremely excited about the schedule for the 2005 season and our entrance into the BIG EAST Conference," said Petrino, who is 20-5 in his first two years at the helm. "We're very pleased for our fans because we've really upgraded our home schedule with four teams who played in bowl games a year ago. The BIG EAST will be a tremendous challenge for our program, because week in and week out we'll have to play at our best, especially with our first three games on the road."
The Cardinals will open the 2005 season, the third under Petrino, with a visit to Commonwealth Stadium and arch-rival Kentucky on Saturday, September 3, and then will play three of their next four games at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
Louisville and Kentucky will meet for the 18th time in another edition of one the nation's top football rivalries. Last season, Louisville defeated Kentucky, 28-0, in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, winning for the second straight season. The Cardinals won, 40-24, in Petrino's first-ever game against Kentucky in 2003.
The Cardinals will have an open date on Sept. 10. Then, Louisville returns to action on Saturday, Sept. 17 with their first-ever game against PAC-10 foe Oregon State at PJCS, which will be aired by either ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC. The Beavers were 7-5 last season and defeated Notre Dame in the Insight Bowl.
Louisville plays its first-ever BIG EAST Conference game on Sept. 24 when the Cardinals travel to Tampa to face South Florida. The Cardinals and Bulls, who were former members of Conference USA, will meet for just the third time, with each team winning on their home field. Louisville won, 41-9, last season, while USF took a 30-27 double-overtime decision in 2003.
On Oct. 1, the Cardinals welcome back former Cardinal head coach Howard Schnellenger and his Florida Atlantic team. The Owls were 9-3 last season with huge wins over Hawaii and North Texas. Schnellenberger coached the Cardinals from 1985-94, guiding Louisville to a Fiesta Bowl win in 1991 over Alabama.
North Carolina travels to Louisville to face the Cardinals on October 8. Last season, the Tar Heels finished 6-6, losing in the Continental Tire Bowl last season. Louisville shut-out UNC, 34-0, last year in Chapel Hill.
The Cardinals will continue in BIG EAST action on the road with a game in Morgantown against the West Virginia Mountaineers on October 15. The Cardinals and Mountaineers will meet for the seventh time in the history of the two schools with WVU holding a 5-1 advantage. It will be the first meeting since a 36-34 win for WVU in Morgantown in 1993.
Louisville will play its third straight conference game away from home with a trip down I-71 to face Cincinnati, also a new member of the BIG EAST. The Cardinals defeated the Bearcats, 70-7, last season, but still trail the overall series, 26-18-1. Louisville won a 43-40 decision in 2003 in the Cardinals' last visit to Cincinnati.
After playing its first three league games on the road, the Cardinals will host three out of the next four weeks. The Cardinals play their first league home game on Thursday, November 3 with a nationally-televised contest against Pittsburgh * winners of the BCS bid from the BIG EAST last season. The Panthers finished the season at 8-4 and will be making their third visit to Louisville, but first since 1994. The two schools have split their eight previous meetings with the Cardinals winning the last encounter, 33-29, in 1994.
After an eight-day layoff, the Cardinals host Rutgers in a nationally-televised contest on Friday November 11. The Scarlet Knights were 4-7 last season, but are perfect against the Cardinals, winning all four previous meetings. However, this will be the first encounter since 1986.
After an open week on November 19, the Cardinals close out the home portion of its schedule on November 26 when the Orange of Syracuse visits PJCS. Syracuse, under new head coach Greg Robinson, finished 6-6 last year after a loss to Georgia Tech in the Champs Sports Bowl. The Cardinals defeated Syracuse, 30-20, in the Carrier Dome in 2003, but are just 1-3 all-time against the Orange.
Louisville will close out the regular season on Saturday, December 3 by traveling to Stoors, Ct., to face Connecticut on ESPN. The Huskies finished at 8-4, including a 39-10 win over Toledo in the Motor City Bowl. The Cardinals and Huskies have met only once, a 41-22 win by Louisville at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in 2000.
The seven bowl teams from 2004 on Louisville's schedule are: Oregon State (Insight) North Carolina (Continental Tire), Syracuse (Champs Sports), Pittsburgh (Fiesta), West Virginia (Gator), Connecticut (Motor City) and Cincinnati (Forth Worth).
Sept. 3 at Kentucky
Sept. 17 Oregon State (ESPN/ESPN2/ABC)
Sept. 24 Soiuth Florida*
Oct. 1 Florida Atlantic
Oct. 8 North Carolina
Oct. 15 at West Virginia*
Oct. 22 at Cincinnati*
Nov. 3 PITTSBURGH* (ESPN)
NOV. 11 RUTGERS* (ESPN2)
NOV. 26 SYRACUSE*
Dec. 3 at Connecticut* (ESPN)
* BIG EAST CONFERENCE