Yesterday, CBSSports.com released bowl projections for each Big East team with postseason expectations. The projections are based off of BCS expert Jerry Palm’s computer formula in which he ranked every FBS team (the Cards came in at #29). The projection for Louisville will likely be received by fans with a lot of excitement and quite a bit of anxiety as well. According to CBS, fans will have to book another trip to New Orleans, as Louisville is projected to play Alabama in the Sugar Bowl on January 2nd.
Louisville (No. 29 overall): Sugar Bowl vs. Alabama, Jan. 2nd
It’s a reasonable projection for the Cardinals, the preseason favorite to win the conference. Louisville is rated ahead of North Carolina (No. 29) and Washington (No. 30), but behind Notre Dame (No. 27). A matchup against the Crimson Tide in New Orleans could bolster the program’s recruiting significantly. The Cardinals would face an Alabama rushing attack that features power runner Eddie Lacy and several potential NFL linemen. Louisville returns six starters from a run defense that ranked third in the Big East last season.
The Orange Bowl is more likely for the Cards at this point, but if the Cards have a very impressive season, and the Sugar Bowl ends up being the team’s destination, the significance of what it could mean to the program is tough to even put into words. It would be absolutely HUGE for recruiting, for future conference affiliation, and for national relevance.
Now, one thing that would make fans nervous about playing Alabama in the Sugar Bowl is that we would still be playing ALA-FREAKING-BAMA. This team has arguably been the most dominant team in College Football since Nick Saban took over. They have two national championships, too many All-Americans to name, and do not appear to be slowing down any time soon. It will be a slightly tough game, but a challenge both the team and fans should and will embrace.
Fair or not, the Cards are, in a way, auditioning for their position in the future college football landscape. It is no secret the Cards want out of the Big East. Last year, the Big XII chose to add West Virginia over Louisville for strictly football reasons. Ridiculous? Yes, but that is the way it is. Football rules over all. If Louisville were to play in the Sugar Bowl against a perennial powerhouse, recruits like James Quick and others will certainly take notice. If Louisville were to play and actually make a game out of it, the Big XII will certainly take notice.
The last time Louisville and Alabama played was in the 1991 Fiesta Bowl where Coach Howard Schnellenberger led players like QB Browning Nagle and DB Ray Buchanan to a 34-7 thrashing of the Crimson Tide. That..probably will not happen again. But oh how sweet it would be to knock the teeth out of the SEC monster. The Cards may just get that opportunity to play David to Alabama’s Goliath.