10 teams that could win it all in ’13: Louisville

Teddy Bridgewater could be a bear for American Athletic Conference defenses in 2013. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)
Teddy Bridgewater could be a bear for American Athletic Conference defenses in 2013. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

Between now and the start of college football season, I’ll present you with 10 college football teams that have a realistic chance to win the national title this year. Today, the series continues with Louisville.

Louisville Cardinals (2013 schedule)
2012 record: 11-2
Sugar Bowl champions (defeated Florida 33-23)

Why they could win it all: Junior quarterback Teddy Bridgewater could be the most electrifying athlete in college football this season. He has plenty of skills in his repertoire, and there’s no telling how unstoppable he could be if he improved even more in the offseason.

The sophomore will be going against weak defenses in the American Athletic Conference — a collection of the remaining few Big East teams as well as other newcomers. If Bridgewater can’t shred the likes of Memphis, UCF and Houston, he won’t be leaving for the pros after this season, as many believe will happen.

But he is one of the sexier picks for the Heisman in the 2013 preseason, mostly due to his incredible performance against Florida in last year’s Sugar Bowl. In that game, he threw for 266 yards and two touchdowns as the Cardinals jumped out to a 30-10 lead in three quarters of total dominance (the fourth quarter wasn’t much of a competition, as the game had pretty much already been taken away from the listless Gators).

The schedule, as you might imagine, is quite favorable for the Cardinals. They might only be tested once this year, and that won’t be until the final game of the regular season — a road contest against Cincinnati on Dec. 5. One of the two teams Louisville lost to a year ago, Syracuse, is no longer on the schedule, at least until the Cardinals join the Orange in the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014. So that will also be a plus for a possible national championship run.

(More in this series: Why Alabama could win it all | Ohio State | Oregon | Clemson)

Why they might not win it all: In all honesty, it’s really difficult to find an explanation for why the Cardinals would have a single blemish on their schedule at the end of the 2013 regular season. They return 19 of 22 starters, play in a very weak conference and have made massive improvements every year since head coach Charlie Strong took over.

If anything, Louisville might not win it all because they won’t be allowed to play in the BCS Title game in the first place. Think about it — if two other teams also win out, wouldn’t any other undefeated team from any other conference get the nod over the Cardinals? Their most impressive win might be Cincinnati or it might be Kentucky, but neither of those wins would be all that spectacular. The Cardinals must take a Boise State-style approach to this season: beat every opponent by as much as they can, and hope all the chips fall into place just right.

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