LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — The countdown to the 2022 college football season has cracked an essential yard marker:
Conference football media days.
The Big 12 opened the party this week. That’s why you saw so many tweets with Mike Gundy chirping about Oklahoma and Texas.
The Atlantic Coast (in Charlotte, starting Wednesday) and Southeastern (Atlanta, beginning Monday) conferences take it up a notch next week.
Who wants to wait until next week for ACC Kickoff?
Not me. Here are 5 questions (and answers) about the University of Louisville and ACC football as media day approaches.
1. Where will the Cards be picked in the ACC Atlantic Division?
Sixth — with an outside chance of fifth.
An early check of the available national forecasts reveals votes for the Cards to finish sixth from the Lindy’s and Athlon yearbooks, ahead of sagging Syracuse.
ProFootballFocus bumps the Cards up a notch, ahead of the Orange and Boston College, in fifth place, just behind Florida State.
Phil Steele entices U of L fans to purchase his mammoth yearbook by placing Louisville in a tie for third with Wake Forest, behind Clemson and North Carolina State.
Being picked sixth or even fifth won’t make Louisville fans rush to Cardinal Stadium for the home opener against Florida State Sept. 16.
But being picked sixth is not a terrible thing. It sets up the Cards to overachieve. Underselling your team is never a bad thing. I remember Bobby Petrino’s last appearance at ACC Media Days when he pushed the silly narrative that Louisville’s offense would be better without Lamar Jackson.
2. Who will be picked to finish second behind Clemson?
North Carolina State.
Dave Doeren has done solid work in Raleigh. The Wolfpack are the pick to finish second in all four publications that I checked.
In fact, Athlon ranks NC State No. 12 in the nation, ahead of Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Penn State.
You can also find the Wolfpack in the Top 25 at PFF (No. 24), Lindy’s (No. 15) and Phil Steele. (No. 13). Impressive.
If Louisville intends to play in a bowl game this season, I’d recommend the Cards get to six victories before their 3-game finishing kick of at Clemson, NC at Cardinal Stadium and at Kentucky.
3. Who will be the ACC preseason player of the year?
What if I told you that ProFootballFocus ranked Louisville ace Malik Cunningham the 14th best quarterback in America?
What if I also told you that Cunningham was only the sixth highest ranked quarterback in the ACC?
I believe I sense a storyline here: It will be the Year of the Quarterback in the ACC.
Sam Hartman of Wake Forest appears to be the most acclaimed QB in the group. He threw 39 touchdown passes last season, although his completion percentage was less than 59 percent. PFF ranked Hartman No. 5 in the nation, behind Bryce Young of Alabama; Caleb Williams of USC; Spencer Rattler of South Carolina and CJ Stroud of Ohio State.
Who are the other ACC quarterbacks ranked ahead of Cunningham?
Brennan Armstrong of Virginia (No. 7); Kedon Slovis of Pitt (No. 9); Tyler Van Dyke of Miami (No. 10) and Devin Leary of NC State (No. 12).
4. Which coach is on the Hot Seat?
Dennis Dodds of CBSSports.com files a Hot Seat list every season and has a solid understanding of the national scene. His pick of him is Dino Babers of Syracuse, the coach Louisville will face in its season opener in New York Sept. 3.
This is Year Seven for Babers, and he has delivered one winning season. That was 2018. The Orange have finished 5-21 in the ACC the last three seasons.
I believe he qualifies.
5. Which program on the move?
I have to tip my cap to Dave Clawson and Wake Forest. Winston-Salem is not an easy place to win. There are no built-in advantages, except academic excellence.
Yet Athlon has Wake ranked No. 16 in the nation while Lindy’s put Wake at 18. Phil Steele gives Wake a third Top 25 launching spot, ranking Clawson’s team No. 24. Only ProFootballFocus remains skeptical, ranking Wake No. 34.
Louisville will face Wake in the Card’s eighth game, booked for Oct. 29 at Cardinal Stadium.
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