Lamar Jackson was the face of Louisville Cardinals football the last three seasons. Now that Jackson left school a year early for the NFL, head coach Bobby Petrino is looking for a new team leader.
First, the Cardinals will be looking to improve upon an 8-5 2017 season, which concluded with a 31-27 loss to Mississippi State in the TaxSlayer Bowl. Louisville will have arguably the toughest opening game in the country this season as the Cardinals will face the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide.
Louisville Cardinals 2018 Schedule
Bye: Week 8
Week 1 – Sept. 2 vs. Alabama (Camping World Stadium - Orlando, Fla.)
While a lot of teams usually have a cupcake opponent to open things, the Cardinals will be facing the Crimson Tide. The fact that the game is on neutral territory may give Louisville a slight advantage, or maybe not. One positive about this matchup is that that it will help the Cardinals get ready for a tough ACC slate.
Week 2 – Sept. 8 vs. Indiana State (Louisville, Ky.)
After a monster matchup against Alabama to begin the 2018 campaign, the Cardinals will have their home opener a week later against FCS opponent Indiana State. Because the Sycamores went 0-11 a season ago, this should be an easy game for the Cardinals.
Week 3 – Sept. 15 vs. Western Kentucky (Louisville, Ky.)
The Cardinals will face an in-state rival in Week 3 as they will host Western Kentucky. Last season, the Hilltoppers finished with a 6-7 record in head coach Mike Sanford’s first season. This will be another opportunity for the Cardinals to get in the win column before ACC play begins.
Week 4 – Sept. 22 at Virginia (Charlottesville, Va.)
Louisville opens its ACC schedule against a Cavaliers team that started out really hot and went to a bowl game, but finished 6-7 overall. The Cavaliers, much like the Cardinals are in a bit of a transition as they also are replacing their starting quarterback.
Week 5 – Sept. 29 vs. Florida State (Louisville, Ky.)
Usually, when Florida State comes into an opposing stadium, it is a big deal. But the Seminoles are coming off of a 7-6 season marked by injuries and a head coaching change. FSU will come to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium with Willie Taggert taking over for Jimbo Fisher.
Week 6 – Oct. 5 vs. Georgia Tech (Louisville, Ky.)
Although the Yellow Jackets were .500 (4-4) in the ACC a year ago, they finished with a 5-6 record overall. Louisville will have to watch out for the tricky triple option, as Georgia Tech’s run-oriented attack is always a tough one to prepare for and defend against.
Week 7 – Oct. 13 at Boston College (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
The Cardinals’ second real road test of 2018 will come against a scrappy Eagles team that is usually good defensively. Last season, the Eagles finished with a 7-6 record, which includes their 27-20 loss to Iowa in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Week 9 – Oct. 27 vs. Wake Forest (Louisville, Ky.)
The Demon Deacons surprised a lot of people last season as they finished the year with an 8-5 record, including a victory over Texas A&M in the Belk Bowl. Dave Clawson will return some starters from last season’s team that beat Louisville 42-32 at BB&T Field.
Week 10 – Nov. 3 at Clemson (Clemson, S.C.)
As the last month of the season will begin, the Cardinals will have the tall task of going to Clemson and trying to upset the Tigers, who have won the ACC each of the last three seasons. Clemson blew out Louisville 47-21 last season.
Week 11 – Nov. 9 at Syracuse (Syracuse, N.Y.)
Although the Orange finished last season with a 4-8 record, this game shouldn’t be taken lightly. Clemson’s only regular season loss in 2017 was to Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. Also, the Orange figure to be better in Dino Babers’ third year at the helm.
Week 12 – Nov. 17 vs. NC State (Louisville, Ky.)
Louisville’s final two games of the regular season will be played at home. The bad news is both of those opponents will not be a walk in the park. NC State finished last season with a 9-4 record and ranked No. 23 in the nation. While the Wolfpack will need to replace offensive weapons Nyheim Hines and Jaylen Samuels as well as several key playmakers (namely All-American defensive end Bradley Chubb) on defense, quarterback Ryan Finley will return for his senior season.
Week 13 – Nov. 24 vs. Kentucky (Louisville, Ky.)
The Cardinals will end their regular season as they always do, against the Wildcats for the Governor’s Cup, given to the winner of this matchup between Bluegrass State rivals. Last season, Louisville exacted some revenge by dominating Kentucky 44-17. No matter the records, this game is always a high-spirited affair.
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.