Just how much did Louisville's win over Florida in the Allstate Sugar Bowl impact preseason projections for 2013?
Ladies and gentlemen, the Big East has a Top 10 team on its hands.
ESPN.com colleague Mark Schlabach has unveiled his way too early Top 25 for 2013, with Louisville checking in at No. 8. The Cardinals are the only Big East team in his preseason Top 25.
"Did any team (besides Alabama?) have a better ending to its season than Louisville? The Cardinals blasted Florida 33-23 in the Allstate Sugar Bowl to finish 11-2, a few weeks after locking up coach Charlie Strong to a long-term contract. They're also leaving the Big East for the ACC in 2014. Now here's the really good news: Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who threw for 3,718 yards with 27 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, was only a sophomore."
There are just three starters that are expected to be gone: center Mario Benavides, left tackle Alex Kupper and cornerback Adrian Bushell -- all really big losses, in my opinion. But here is the thing -- Louisville has the most manageable schedule of any team ranked in the Top 25. That includes Boise State, which has to play Washington and BYU nonconference.
Right now, Louisville has no preseason Top 25 teams on its schedule. And it has has another weak non-league slate, with games against Ohio, Eastern Kentucky, Kentucky and FIU. Zzzzzzzzz. That will do nothing to boost its cred as the season goes on. But here is where the Cards have an advantage over last year -- beginning the year as a Top 10 team means you do not have to leapfrog 25 teams to get people to notice you.
Louisville started this year 9-0 and only got to No. 9. If Louisville starts 9-0 in 2013, I can all but guarantee it will be ranked higher than that. The victory over Florida has changed everything. Now the Cardinals have to hold up their end of the bargain -- and play like a Top 10 team, particularly with its weak schedule.