CLEMSON - Charlie Strong was an impressive 37-15 in four years leading Louisville from 2010-13. Only three of those 52 games were against ranked opponents.
Bobby Petrino was an impressive 41-9 in four years leading Louisville from 2003-06. He recorded a 4-5 mark against ranked opponents, and he started 1-4 in his first three campaigns.
In fact, Petrino - 83-30 in his head coaching career - has faced 13 ranked opponents on the road, and emerged victorious once. (Arkansas 25, Auburn 22 in 2008.)
Just saying. Louisville and Petrino, both as a match and from afar, have created names for themselves as winners. But they're about to find out what they can do together in a bigger conference, which isn't as deep as the SEC Petrino faced at Arkansas but certainly holds a few difficult tasks in his first year back with the Cardinals.
That task includes a trip to Death Valley (where the hosts are 32-6 under Dabo Swinney) Oct. 11, against a Tigers team that's either going to be battle-tested or battle-weary by week seven.
Opponent preview No. 1: Georgia
Opponent preview No. 2: S.C. State
Opponent preview No. 3: Florida State
Opponent preview No. 4: North Carolina
Opponent preview No. 5: North Carolina State
Game 6: Louisville at No. 22* Clemson, Oct. 11, time and TV TBD
Louisville coach: Bobby Petrino (41-9 at Louisville from 2003-06)
Returning starters: 11 (seven offense, four defense)
2013 record: 12-1, 7-1 American Athletic; 2nd American Athletic
Scoring offense: 35.2 points per game (25th in FBS)
Scoring defense: 12.2 points allowed (2nd)
Series: First meeting
Golden Nugget line: Clemson by 10
Opposing beat writer to follow: @JeffGreer_CJ
Three things to know about Louisville
1. Well-stocked cupboard: A top-25 offense has plenty of pieces returning, with an incoming coach more known for offense than his predecessor. At tailback, the Cardinals have Dominique Brown (825 yards, 5.1 per carry) plus former Auburn star Michael Dyer ready to roll. Wide receiver DeVante Parker has 22 touchdown catches the past two years, and Louisville is very excited about a possible emergence of speedster James Quick. Returning four offensive line starters helps, too. Let's see, are we missing anybody . oh, yes! Teddy Bridgewater. He gone. Will Gardner's development, under Petrino and OC Garrick McGee (a former Oklahoma quarterback, and Ryan Mallett's tutor at Arkansas), is the catalyst to Louisville's return to double-digit-win-land in 2014.
2. Switch to 3-4: Brought in from Georgia, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is changing the Cardinals' defensive alignment just one year after it finished 2nd in the country. This is a big job for Grantham, since he's basically charged with running the defense after Strong had a healthy hand on that side of the ball during his time at Louisville. Both starting safeties are gone - including first-round pick Calvin Pryor - and they could be replaced with freshmen. Louisville's returning sack leader, Lorenzo Mauldin, had shoulder surgery in the offseason, and top nose tackle DeAngelo Brown is also hobbling, so there's work to be done here.
3. Come on down: Dyer, the 2012 BCS Championship Offensive Player of the Game, was the biggest name to find his way to Louisville in some time, transferring after logging time at Arkansas State and Arkansas Baptist College. He put up 223 yards (5.1 per carry) in 2013, and could see a larger role. In future years, offseason transfers Shaq Wiggins (formerly a Georgia cornerback), Ja'Quay Williams (Texas A&M receiver) and Malin Jones (Northwestern running back) could help the Cardinals. Louisville is a cool destination for wayward football players.
Week before: North Carolina State
Next week: at Boston College
On the horizon: @Georgia Tech, South Carolina
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