BOZICH | Coaches say Louisville’s football schedule tougher than Kentucky’s | Sports


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — I can’t identify the solitary ball coach who gave the University of Louisville football team its one and only vote in the USA Today coaches’ Top 25 preseason poll.

The coaches, brave souls that they are, demand a secret ballot. We’re lucky they release the names of the coaches who participate. They are not fans of being second guessed.

This season, Tyson Helton (Western Kentucky), Tom Allen (Indiana) and, hmmmm, Scott Satterfield (Louisville) are three of the 66 voters.

Of 130 Football Bowl Subdivision programs, more than 42% earned at least one vote, including the Cards, who finished tied with Florida State and Texas San Antonio for No. 53.

Here is something I can tell you: If you trust the opinions of the coaches, Louisville will play a more demanding 2022 schedule than Kentucky or Indiana.

According to the coaches’ poll, Louisville will play five Top-25 opponents. Indiana is booked against four.

And Kentucky?

The Wildcats will play only one; defending national champion Georgia, which will visit Kroger Field on Nov. 19

Surprise?

I believe so.

But so is this nugget: Although the Southeastern Conference led all leagues with six teams in the preseason Top 25, the ACC placed five teams in the top 20. The SEC had three in the top 20, the Big Ten four.

That helps to explain the grit in the 2022 Louisville schedule. The Cards are not booked to play any Top-25 teams in the opening half of their schedule but finish with five ranked opponents over the final six weeks.

That rugged closing stretch begins with a visit by No. 16 Pittsburgh on Oct. 22. The Cards will host No. 19 Wake Forest the following week.

After a home game with James Madison, Louisville will visit No. 4 Clemson, host No. 13 North Carolina State and then travel to No. 21 Kentucky.

Get this: Not only is Kentucky ranked in the preseason Top 25, the Wildcats are the fourth-highest ranked SEC team, according to the coaches. UK trails No. 1 Alabama, No. 3 Georgia and No. 7 Texas A&M but coach Mark Stoops has his team ranked ahead of No. 23 Arkansas, No. 24 Ole Miss; No. 28 Tennessee; No. 30 Louisiana State; No. 31 Auburn; No. 36 Mississippi State, No. 37 Florida and No. 44 South Carolina.

That, friends, is without Stoops being one of the voters.

And, to recap, that means 12 of 14 SEC programs earned at least five poll votes. Only Vanderbilt and Missouri (two UK opponents) have some explaining to do.

Louisville will play two other teams that made the Also Receiving Votes List: The Cards visit No. 32 Central Florida on Sept. 9 before their home opener with Florida State (one vote) Sept. 16.

It’s been a long, ugly fall for Indiana over the last season. The Hoosiers were ranked 17th in the preseason coaches poll in 2021, but after wobbling through a 2-10 season, they were not one of eight Big Ten teams to earn votes.

Indiana will play three of its four games against Top-25 opponents on the road, beginning with a Sept. 24 games at Cincinnati. IU also faces road games with No. 2 Ohio State (Nov. 12) and No. 14 Michigan State (Nov. 19). The Hoosiers are booked to host No. 6 Michigan on Oct. 18.

The coaches snubbed Jeff Brohm and Purdue after the Boilermakers’ 9-4 season. (Brohm is not a poll voter.)

Purdue earned only two votes, but the Boilermakers can change the narrative about its season when they host No. 27 Penn State in their season opener Sept. 1. That game will air nationally on Fox Sports, including WDRB television.

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