The 2013 version of the Louisville Cardinals enter the season with the most hype since the 2007 season. The Cardinals are coming off a surprising beat down of SEC power Florida in the Sugar Bowl last season. The Cardinals beat the Gators 33-23 in a game where the score wasn't an indicator of just how bad the margin really was throughout the game.
Louisville is led by one of the top quarterbacks in all of college football Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater will be entering his junior season and has preseason Heisman Trophy hype that will grow as the season goes if he lives up to expectations. The Cardinals went 11-2 in 2012 and enter this season ranked number nine in the preseason coach's poll. The question will be do the Cardinals have what it takes to be a legitimate national championship contender?
The Cardinals play in the newly formed American Athletic Conference (AAC) which replace the formerly known Big East Conference. The one positive that Louisville has when it comes to making a real national title run is their schedule. The Cardinals have a pretty light schedule and the path to Pasadena could be favorable in comparison to other top national title contenders. The Cardinals face SEC rival Kentucky in Lexington along with Temple, South Florida, Connecticut and Cincinnati on the road. These four games could be the deciding factor in just how serious of a threat the Cards will be this season.
The Cardinals have one of the biggest stars in all of college football to help lead their quest to win a national title. The aforementioned Bridgewater is coming off a break out season where he opened the eyes of scouts, coaches, fans and fellow players. Bridgewater had a completion percentage of 68.5 percent which was a huge upgrade considering he had the reputation of being a more run first quarterback at times his first season. The Cardinals has some nice outside weapons to help Bridgewater's job a little easier. Damian Copeland, DeVante Parker are two starting wide receivers for Louisville are two upperclassmen returning that have nice speed to help out Bridgewater on the yards after catch category. The offense of Louisville could be an explosive one if things play out according to plan and the speed of the wide outs are used properly.
The defense of Louisville is a veteran group that has gained plenty of experience over the past couple of seasons. The defensive performance against Florida in last year's Sugar Bowl was their coming out party to the nation. Louisville held the Gators to only 286 total yards of offense in the Sugar Bowl and were able to sack Florida's quarterback Jeff Driskel three times. The defense will not have to be dominant for the Cardinals to succeed in 2013 because of their explosive offense. The defense will just have to get key stops at crucial moments to allow the offense to take over games. The schedule, as mentioned before, will allow for some weak moments at times because of weaker offensive opponents the Cards will face. This doesn't mean the Cardinals can allow touchdowns and yards like it's nothing and expect the offense to bail them out every time of course, but the defense just has to do their job to help compliment the offense which can be explosive.
This season for the Cardinals is one of high hopes and expectations for players and coaches alike. I feel the Cardinals will be about the same in 2013 as they were in 2012. I think the beat down of Florida in the Sugar Bowl will put teams on notice that the Cardinals have the potential to be great. I believe the Cardinals go 10-2 in the regular season because of the fact they are playing with a bulls eye on their back this year unlike last year. This will be something new for these Cardinals players and in response I feel they lose a couple of games because of it. The season will be a good one for Louisville, but probably not quit as special as some of the Cardinals faithful will be hoping for.