Each year we try and pinpoint one or two longshots that we feel have a great shot at capturing the National Championship and give you a nice bang for your buck. Rather than just look at the two or three favorites, we dig deeper and try and uncover a sleeper or two among the group. This year one of our long shots is the Louisville Cardinals.
Why Louisville? Well first of all this is a very good team. Their offense should be great as they return one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Brian Brohm and one of the best running backs in the nation in Michael Bush. Look for them to top the 43 points per game they put up in 2005.
The defense was solid and should be better this year. In all, this team brings back 17 starters and has a record of 20-4 the last two seasons. Another thing that you must look at when trying to predict a National Champion is scheduling.
Louisville plays in the Big East Conference, which is one of if not the weakest BCS conference and almost all of their difficult games this season are at home. This is not a conference like the Big Ten, SEC or ACC where you have big games nearly every week. The Cardinals will be able to focus heavily on three or four big time match ups and they should actually cruise through the remainder of their schedule.
The Cardinals host Miami (FL) on Sept. 16th for their first big game. Miami will be breaking in a number of new starters and they could be vulnerable early in the season, especially on the road. Louisville will be the more experienced team and playing at home where they have now won 17 of their last 18 games.
Louisville does play at Kansas State this year which will be their toughest road game. However, the Wildcats are nowhere near as dominant as they have been coming off two straight losing seasons.
Their biggest conference game in 2006 will be at home against West Virginia. Most analysts are tabbing the Mountaineers as the team to beat in the Big East. However, we think Louisville is the team to beat since they host this game and are looking to avenge a triple-overtime defeat in Morgantown last year. The Cards will win this game at home. After that it looks like smooth sailing for this team. We definitely think the Louisville Cardinals are worth a strong look this season since they are getting 35/1 odds to win it all.