The Louisville Cardinals are coming off a spectacular run in 2012 that culminated in a BCS bowl berth and Sugar Bowl upset victory over the Florida Gators. As Charlie Strong prepares his team for 2013, they have raised the level of expectations for the program, likely higher than at any other point in the school’s history. There’s plenty of reason for optimism at Louisville, however, as the 2013 season looks primed for the Cardinals to roll through it undefeated.
At the top of the list for reason why Louisville can be perfect next season is all the talent they bring back from last year’s club. In all, 19 starters will return in 2013, led by Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback who will on most lists as an early Heisman Trophy candidate next fall. After leading the team last season with 3,718 yards passing and 27 touchdowns while completing 68.5 percent of his passes, Bridgewater returns with another year of experience and even more weapons at his disposal to improve on his breakout 2012 campaign.
Coming back this season, Louisville will get their top two receivers from a year ago in DeVante Parker and Damian Copeland back after the pair combined for 90 catches for 1,372 yards and 12 touchdowns. Parker was the home run threat a year ago, averaging 18.6 yards per reception while bring in 10 scoring strikes. In all, four players who caught 40 passes or more last season back again and ready to pick up where they left off. The running game will be just as stout with Jeremy Wright and Senorise Perry returning with their 21 combined rushing touchdowns from a year ago.
And the schedule works in Louisville’s favor as well. After an opening game against the stout Ohio Bobcats team, Louisiville’s road to perfection gets a lot smoother. The rest of their non-conference schedule includes the Eastern Kentucky Colonels of FCS, Kentucky Wildcats and Florida International Panthers which shouldn’t provide too much of a challenge. They also get one final run through a depleted Big East conference (soon to be the American Athletic Conference), with a favorable road schedule against the Temple Owls, South Florida Bulls, Connecticut Huskies and Cincinnati Bearcats.
Outside of Cincinnati who will play the Cardinals tough, that would appear to be a road-slate that is extremely winnable. It’s likely that the Cardinals will be heavily favored in every game next season and if they can play up their expectations, then they should close out a perfect regular season. They will need it if they hope to play for a BCS National Championship, as a single loss in the beleaguered Big East would kill any chances they have of reaching the pinnacle of college football.
The road is clear and laid out before them and appears to be without any major stumbling blocks. Can Louisville get it done and finish 2013 undefeated?