Louisville coach Charlie Strong was asked repeatedly this week how he feels about his undefeated Cardinals being completely left out of the national championship picture.
Strong did not take the bait, saying, "For us, it’s all about the team we’re getting ready to go play. Don’t worry about the polls, don’t worry what everybody is saying about you. Just wait until the end of the season to know exactly where you stand."
We can guess where Louisville stands. Outside the national championship race -- and behind two teams from the SEC with two losses to boot. Though the Cardinals are one of five unbeaten teams left in the nation, nobody has raised much of an uproar or a stink about whether they deserve a shot at a title or whether they should at least be ranked higher than some of the teams ahead of them.
I do not contend that Louisville belongs in the Top 3. I think Alabama, Oregon and Kansas State are better teams. But at the same time, Louisville has won all its games. Should that count for something more than the No. 9 spot in the current BCS standings?
So I decided to look back at the undefeated run Cincinnati made in 2009. How does 2012 Louisville compare to 2009 Cincinnati headed into Week 11?
Back in 2009, there were six undefeated teams headed into Week 11. They were ranked 1-6. Cincinnati, the Big East representative was ranked No. 5 -- four spots ahead of where Louisville is today. You cannot merely blame a better computer average for the higher ranking. The human polls also had Cincinnati higher than Louisville is ranked right now, so you can connect the dots and see the tangible proof that the Big East perception has been damaged in conference realignment.
Looking further at those standings you see every single unbeaten team -- including non-AQ teams No. 4 TCU and No. 5 Boise State -- ahead of two-loss LSU and two-loss USC. In 2012, two-loss LSU is two spots ahead of unbeaten Louisville.
Now let us go back to the computer average. Cincinnati has a huge leg up on Louisville, with an average computer ranking of No. 3. Louisville has an average computer ranking of No. 13. At this point in the season in 2009, Cincinnati had a win over ranked USF, along with nonconference wins over Oregon State and Fresno State -- teams that finished 8-5. Louisville's most impressive nonconference win is against a North Carolina team serving a bowl ban. Kentucky (1-9) and Southern Miss (0-9) have done the Cardinals no favors.
Let us also not forget that West Virginia was still in the Big East in 2009. This year, the Mountaineers have been replaced by Temple, and that will do nothing when it comes to bumping up computer average or strength of schedule.
Finally, Cincinnati did not have nearly as many close calls as Louisville has had. That has to be a contributing factor to Louisville being ranked No. 10 in both the Harris and coaches' polls -- compared to Cincinnati being ranked No. 5 in 2009. The Bearcats had a much larger margin of victory in their wins.