LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A lot can change in just a few short weeks. After getting blown out by Ole Miss to open up the 2021 season, many amongst the fanbase and media started to adjust their expectations for the Louisville football program moving forward. Posting a winning record and making a bowl game was starting to come into question, as was the longevity of Scott Satterfield's tenure as head coach by some.
While there are still some out there who still are not completely sold on either, the season outlook is much different now. Consistency might still be an issue, but the Cardinals' effort and energy levels are much improved from their season opener against the Rebels.
Since then, Louisville has fired off three wins in a row against Eastern Kentucky, UCF and Florida State to open up ACC play. As they prepare for Wake Forest this weekend, a lot more is on the line than their winning streak.
The No. 24 Demon Deacons currently top the Atlantic Division with a 2-0 record in league play (4-0 overall), with both Louisville and NC State right behind them at 1-0. With the Wolfpack playing a non-conference game against Louisiana Tech this weekend, and Clemson sitting at 1-1 in the league, the winner of Louisville-Wake Forest will, in essence, be in the driver's seat to win the division.
We are just a third of the way through the season, but this game is already shaping up to be a pivotal one in the Atlantic Division race, on top of the fact that it will be on the road against a ranked opponent. But, Satterfield and the rest of the program are tuning out all that noise, and simply focusing on game planning for the Deacs.
"We don't worry about all of that, we worry about Wake Forest," he said. "If you start thinking about all the other stuff, then you're not focused on what needs to be focused on, and that's the team we got to play this week. We're looking at tomorrow's practice, and that’s the way you have to look at it.
"Alumni, media and all the people can look at all the other stuff, and talk about it - and its fun talk, but that stuff doesn't really matter. This is our fifth game and second ACC game, and we got to go play as well as we can possibly play to go to beat Wake Forest. That's the bottom line.
Satterfield went on to add that Louisville and Wake Forest being in the mix for the top of the Atlantic Division highlights the parity in college football, and that games are won and lost by those who prepare the most. He specifically highlights Minnesota losing to Bowling Green as 30-point favorites, and Clemson getting upset by NC State.
"Every single week, you're going to see examples of this. That if the team doesn't show up, they're going to lose," he said. "The team that prepares the best, week in and week out, and goes out and performs, will have an opportunity to win their conference, to go to a great bowl or go to playoffs. But you have to stay in the moment, and focus on the team you're playing.”
Kickoff at Wake Forest is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 2 at 12:30 p.m. EST.
(Photo of Hassan Hall: Jeremy Brevard - USA TODAY Sports)
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