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Louisville Cardinals, a darkhorse for the National title

When thinking about the 2013-14 NCAA football season, teams such as the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Oregon Ducks and Ohio State Buckeyes come to mind as potential national champions. This season however, there is another team on the block that might just surprise everyone before the season is over.

The Louisville Cardinals will be the surprising team of the season. The team is so confident and has such talent that it would be considered a disappointment for players and coaches if the team does not end the season undefeated.

Last season, the Cardinals started their surge. They shared the Big East title, shocked the higher ranked Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl and signed an agreement to be part of the Atlantic Coast Conference starting in 2014.

Head Coach Charlie Strong will be in his fourth season at the helm. Strong will have one of the country’s best quarterbacks in Teddy Bridgewater, running his offense.

Strong has succeeded in changing the attitude of the players and turned the program around. Bridgewater gives Louisville its first candidate for the Heisman Trophy in many years.

The offense will not be the only strength for Louisville. On defense, the team lost just three starters from a team that went 11-2.

The Cardinals will be playing their last season in the Big East and should be given the favorite label for every game they play, with most of being by double digits.

During the regular season, the only teams in the top 25 the Cardinals could face would be AAC teams that might creep up into the top 15 or 20 at some point in the season.

With the talent the Cardinals have on both sides of the ball and the favorable schedule for the season, Louisville is a definite dark horse to land in the BCS Championship Game.

The offense for the Cardinals revolves around the talented Bridgewater, who has a whole host of players to work with, in the passing game. Eli Rogers, Damian Copeland and DeVante Parker all return for the receiving corps, but will be helped by Tennessee transfer Matt Milton and Florida transfers Robert Clark and Gerald Christian.

Bridgewater threw for 3,718 yards last season completing 287 of his 419 passes with 27 for touchdowns and just eight interceptions. His play earned him Offensive Player of the Year in the Big East.

Defensively the Cardinals lacked in sacks during the season with just 22, but with Marcus Smith and Lorenzo Mauldin returning the Cardinals have two strong defenders that could give opposing quarterbacks fits.

With a weak Big East schedule on tap, the toughest team the Cardinals should face in the regular season is Cincinnati.

Bridgewater will be the key offensively for the Cardinals, while Calvin Pryor the teams’ junior free safety will be the glue on defense. Last season he recorded 100 tackles, forced opponents into five fumbles and had two interceptions.

The Cardinals cannot overlook any games on the schedule but fans will have their eyes on December 5 when the Cardinals take on the Cincinnati Bearcats.

The men’s basketball program won the NCAA title, the women’s basketball program was in the Final Four and now the football program could conceivably play for a national championship.

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