LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Until I received a conflicting memo, the Louisville soccer team was scheduled to play a dozen games in the second year of the Scott Satterfield era.
I have collected five pre-season publications. Four (Athlon, Lindy’s, PickSixPreview and Street & Smith’s) estimate finishing second in the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Only Phil Steele dropped the Card to third, behind the States of Florida and Clemson.
Before the schedule is folded, rotated or shredded, now is the time to look at 12 games and rank them according to their importance.
1. North Carolina State, home, September 2: When in doubt, use the season opener. The card has handled Wolfpack four of six times since joining ACC. NC State coach Dave Doeren has swayed to the edge of the Hot Seat with 4-8 and lost six, five with two or more goals. Cannot lose the home opener for a program that leads in reverse.
2. State of Florida, home, October 24: Seminoles have not been great in the last two seasons, but have won two consecutive wins over new L. FSU coach Mike Norvell with a big card by overturning prospective midfielder Chubba Purdy. Cannot let it pass. It’s also a Game Statement, because it can determine the second place in the division
3. Virginia Tech, home, October 31: A legitimate swing game against the only ACC team that hasn’t played cards since joining the league. Tech is expected to push North Carolina and Miami in the Coastal Division, so this will be a quality win.
4. Kentucky, home, November 28: Cards will drag two ugly streak defeats against the Wildcats to Cardinal Stadium, earning a score of 101-23 since Lamar Jackson left town. Louisville hasn’t lost three straight to England since 2010. Wildcats have become very confident recruiting Jefferson County.
5. At Notre Dame, road, November 21: Card won in South Bend with Reggie Bonnafon in 2014 and competed against Ireland evenly for half of last season. Brian Kelly lost 10 starters, and his critics began asking if he would even win a national title. Ireland must be in the Top 25, so victory under the Golden Dome creates a hiss.
6. In Virginia, November 7th: The Cavaliers won the Coastal Division and have beaten the Cardinals twice in three matches in Charlottesville since they joined the league. But UVa lost midfielder Bryce Perkins, the leader of the ACC total offense, and seems to be the best on the Coast. Another Swing Game.
7. Wake Forest, home November 14: At first glance, this has the quality of a trap game, which is scheduled between trips to Charlottesville and South Bend. But former Wake midfielder Jamie Newman, No. 2 in total offense at ACC, ran to Georgia, sending a message about the excitement for Wake football.
8. At Clemson, street, September 12: This is an opportunity to show improvement, but frustration is an unreasonable request in Satterfield’s second year. Check back in 2021 or 2022 (or 2023) for that.
9. At Boston College, road, October 10: The Golden Eagles have averaged more than 40 points on Cards while winning two of the last three matches. But BC changed coaches, and they were just another team. Beating them will not turn heads.
10. On Syracuse, street, October 3: Besides the night in November 2018 when the L players quit Bobby Petrino, the Cardinals dominated Orange, winning five of the last six matches. Dino Babers has lost his mojo. Why? His defense is ranked fifth in the bottom of the ACC for four consecutive seasons.
11. Western Kentucky, home, September 26: Hilltoppers are dangerous, dynamic and persistent. But this is a game that you should win and can’t lose.
12. Murray State, home, September 19: The last time U of L lost to Racers (1984), it inspired the government to think big and recruit Howard Schnellenberger.
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