LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Coming off of an 8-5 campaign last season under Scott Satterfield's first year as the head coach, the Louisville football program undoubtedly had high expectations heading into the 2020 season.
However as high as those expectations were, many speculated that the Cardinals could possibly have a bumpy start to the season with the reason being is that Louisville had a very front-loaded schedule. Out of their four toughest games on the schedule (vs Miami & Virginia Tech, at Pitt & Notre Dame), two of them came in the first three weeks and three of them came in the first five.
As many know by now, some of that speculation has come to fruition. After taking care of business against Western Kentucky, Louisville then dropped their ACC opener vs. Miami and road opener vs. Pitt to drop to 1-2 on the season and winless in conference play.
A lot of factors have played into their sub .500 start. The offense hasn't been as crisp as they were last year, the defense still has trouble containing the big play, and special teams has been dreadful in several facets.
The first few weeks has re-reminded people that Louisville is still very much in rebuild mode. The Cards still have a largely unbalanced roster thanks to the recruiting efforts of the previous regime, and it won't be until next season that Satterfield will have most the guys that fit his vision.
Given everything that has happened up to this point of the season, how will the rest of season unfold for Louisville? Is a winning season still legitimately in play?
To answer this question, let's turn to ESPN's FPI & SP+ metrics. FPI is a "predictive rating system designed to measure team strength and project performance going forward" and SP+ is a "tempo- and opponent-adjusted measure of college football efficiency".
While each metric does something completely different, in essence they measure close to the same thing. So without further ado, let's take a look at how each metric predicts Louisville's season will run the rest of the way.
First we'll start with FPI. Louisville sports a rating of 8.0, which ranks 28th in all of college football. For context it excludes teams from the MAC, Mountain West (except Air Force) and the Pac-12, so it only includes 91 of the 130 FBS teams.
Take a look below at what Louisville's remaining schedule looks like according to FPI:
|Opponent||Win Projection||Opp. FPI (Rank)|
at Georgia Tech
at Notre Dame
at Boston College
FPI actually has Louisville as the favorite in 6 of their remaining eight games. Of course one of their projected losses is their road trip up to South Bend to face Notre Dame, but the other is their Halloween matchup at home against a surging Virginia Tech.
But FPI isn't projecting the Cards to finish the season at 7-4. According to their FPI Sheet, Louisville has a projected win-loss record of 5.9 - 5.1
Now let's move on to SP+. Louisville also has an 8.0 rating in this metric, but that ranks at 37th in college football. That is because as of week 4 of the college football season, SP+ includes 126 of the 130 FBS teams.
Now let's look at what Louisville's remaining schedule looks like according to SP+:
SP+ has Louisville favored in five of their remaining eight games. On top of the games against the Fighting Irish & Hokies, SP+ is also high on the Virginia Cavaliers and have them favored over the Cardinals.
Much like FPI, SP+ also projects what Louisville's win-loss record will end up being. It has fluctuated all season, but Louisville's 'expected wins' mark currently sits at 5.56
The Cardinals might be sitting at 1-2, but if the statistical models are to be trusted, better days are ahead for Louisville.
(Photo of Braden Smith: Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports)
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