This article was written by Kelly Patrick, a contributor with KentuckySports.co.
During these summer months there isn’t always so much to discuss in the world of Cardinal athletics, but I’m here today to help you prepare for the upcoming football season and to give a little bit of a preview as to what we can look forward to starting September 1st when the Cards suit up against Murray St. at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
9/1 VS Murray State : I don’t expect the Racers to give the Cards much trouble, the last time the two schools met was to kickoff the 2007 season and the Cards were victorious 73-10 so I can’t imagine the Cards will begin the season on a bad foot. This Thursday night game will be nationally televised on ESPNU. I predict a Cards blowout victory.
9/9 VS Florida International University : This will be the first meeting between these two schools and once again I don’t see the Cards dropping the ball in week 2 against the Golden Panthers from Miami, FL. FIU is coming off a win over in the Little Caesar’s Bowl over Toledo at Ford Field in Detroit, MI, and a share of the Sun Belt Conference Title last season. Although I am a little nervous about a strong FIU program who many are predicting could win as many as 8 games in the 2011 season, I am predicting the Cards will defend their home field and be victorious in week 2.
9/17 AT the University of Kentucky: The Cards will go on the road for the first time and it will be just down I-64 to Commonwealth Stadium. The Cards have allowed the Cats to win the last four meetings between the two rivals (UK also leads the all time series 14-9) but I see the winning streak ending under second year head coach Joker Phillips and new starting QB Morgan Newton. I just see the youth and athleticism of the Cards defense being too much for the less than impressive skill position players for the Wildcats offense. Offensively I don’t expect too many points to be put on the board for either team but I can see Victor Anderson scoring a touchdown and along with Will Stein doing a good job of controlling the tempo of the game. I predict the Cards beat the Cats this season, finally.
9/24 Bye Week
10/1 VS Marshall: The Cards will come off their bye week and will meet the Marshall Thundering Herd at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. The Thundering Herd are lead by second year Head Coach Doc Holliday, in his first season as the Head Man Marshall finished 5-7 with a team that was thought to have had below average talent for the Conference USA. Their defense returns 9 starters and will have to really lead the team because of a lethargic offensive attack. I see this as must win for the Cards being that it’s at home and coming off a bye week. I predict a Cards victory.
10/8 AT North Carolina: The Cards visit the Tar Heels at Kenan Memorial Stadium in Chapel Hill for their last game before BIG EAST play begins. The Tar Heels have uncertainty at most of their positions, including QB where Sophomore Bryn Renner (only two career pass attempts) will try to take the place of T.J. Yates (Drafted in the 5th round by of the NFL draft by the Houston Texans). The defensive line will bring back some quality players and will ultimately (I feel) prove to be too much for the Cards offense to handle. I pick the Tar Heels to beat the Cards, unfortunately.
10/15 AT Cincinnati: The Cards will take on the Bearcats for the rights to the ever-so precious “keg of-nails” this time at the home of the Cincinnati Bengals, Paul Brown Stadium. With the Bearcats returning their starting QB, RB and best WR on offense. Despite finishing the and returning ALL ELEVEN of their defensive starters I can’t pick the Cards to win this one in Cincy this year. I predict the Bearcats beat the Cards.
10/21 VS Rutgers: Last year the Cards beat the Scarlet Knights in their regular season finale in New Jersey 40-13. This year the game comes to Louisville’s home field and I predict the Cards will be victorious again. Greg Schianno’s (entering his 11th season as the Rutgers Head Coach) Rutgers won only 4 games and finished 1-6 in conference play, they are returning 10 offensive starters, including starting QB Chas Dodd (1,637 passing yards with 11 TDs including two 300 yard passing performances). I predict a Cards victory over Rutgers.
10/29 VS Syracuse: Led by red-shirt Junior QB Ryan Nassib (19 TDs, 9 ints. And 2,334 yards passing) the Orangemen will come into Syracuse to avenge a 28-20 Cardinal victory last season in the Carrier Dome. With the return of a talented receiving corps and a very experience offensive line the Orangemen will be difficult for the Card’s defense to handle. Defensively they lost too much from a very productive 2010 unit and are expected to struggle. Ultimately the offensive unit will be too much for the Cards defense and I predict the Cards lose to Syracuse in 2011.
11/5 AT West Virginia: Charlie Strong will lead the Cards into an even more chaotic situation in Morgantown this year than normal with a very bizarre coaching drama unfolding involving a surprising resignation which lead to the coach-in waiting turning into a head coach earlier than the original plan intended for him to, all shortly after a supposed drunken incident at a West Virginia casino. Aside from all of that, the Mountaineers football team is chosen by many to finish at the top of the BIG EAST and to contend for a BCS Bowl bid, WVU seems to have the most action packed program in the conference, some of the reasons being good and some being bad. I predict the Mountaineers will beat the Cards in 2011.
11/12 VS Pittsburg: After a rather tumultuous offseason coaching Carousel in Pittsburgh, which included Dave Wannstedt stepping down, form Miam of Ohio HC Mike Haywood accepting the position then getting fired after just two and a half weeks due to domestic violence charges, former Tulsa Head Coach Todd Graham is taking over for his first year leading the Panthers. Offensively the Panthers are returning plenty of talent and experience, most notably Junior RB Ray Graham who backed up Dion Lewis (selected in the 5th round of the NFL draft by the Philadelphia Eagles) but still managed to rush for 922 yards (6.2 yards per carry) last season. Defensively they are losing a lot, but due to their offensive potency and overall talented roster I have to predict that the Panthers beat the Cards in 2011.
11/19 AT UCONN: Losing 12 year Head Coach Randsy Edsall to Maryland and replacing him with Paul Pasqualoni, it is difficult to envision the Huskies having a very good season, especially when you factor in that Jordan Todman (taken in the NFL draft, 6th round to the San Diego Chargers) decided to forego his senior season unexpectedly. Despite having surprisingly good seasons for the past five years, I am predicting the Huskies have a disappointing season and lose to the Cards.
11/25 AT SOUTH FLORIDA: Skip Holtz, heading into his second season as the head coach of the South Florida Bulls has a good team returning that relies primarily on playing good defense and controlling the clock by running the ball. The offensive firepower won’t exactly win any games for them as returning QB B.J. Daniels had 11 TDs and 13 INTs last season. Although the Bulls are losing quite a few starters there are plenty of players who had significant playing time last season who are projected to fill in adequately. I predict the South Florida Bulls will beat the Cardinals in 2011.
So I predict the Cards go 6-6 again during the regular season and make it to a similar Bowl as last season. Let me know which of my predictions you disagree with.