Louisville Cardinals Football: Five must-see games in 2015

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Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Louisville Cardinals need to be ready for these five games if head coach Bobby Petrino hoped to contend for an ACC championship. 

The Louisville Cardinals faltered a bit in the 2014 season, finishing with three more losses than their astounding 12-1 record the previous year under Charlie Strong.

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Though their 9-4 record was not abysmal, the team still needs to make some important strides and win some games to make the top 25 and finish atop the ACC. With losses to Florida State, Clemson, and a disappointing performance against Georgia in the Belk Bowl, Louisville will look for revenge in 2015.

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Junior quarterback Will Gardner is returning for the Cardinals after tearing his ACL against Boston College late in the 2014 season. Reggie Bonnafon and Kyle Bolin then battled for the starting position that has carried over into the 2015 offseason. Gardner had the best performance of the three, completing 57.5 percent of his passes for 1,669 yards and 12 touchdowns. He threw just three interceptions and was very smart under center.

After the injury, Bonnafon and Bolin threw for 864 and 716 yards respectively, but did struggle with their decision-making. Bonnafon would finish with four interceptions while Bolin would throw three – the same amount Gardner would throw in 143 more attempts.

The quarterback battle has carried over in the spring and is still competitive. But, if Gardner can return to pre-ACL form before Week 1 against Auburn, he should come out victorious in the quarterback battle.

Louisville will also boast one of the best running backs in the ACC in Brandon Radcliff, who finished 737 yards on 144 carries and 12 touchdowns. With backup running backs Michael Dyer and Dominique Brown heading to the NFL, Radcliff should take over a majority of their 206 carries.

Though Louisville lost much their production from wide receiver. to the NFL – DeVante Parker, Eli Rogers, and Gerald Christian – they will look to replace the production with their long list of backups. James Quick will look to establish himself as the No. 1 receiver, finishing last season with 566 yards and three touchdowns. Charles Standberry has the opportunity to become the team’s No.1 tight end, as in his limited playing time, he caught seven passes for 57 yards and two touchdowns.

One of their best traits is the team’s defense. They finished among the best in 2015 and will have four defensive starters returning including senior Sheldon Rankins, who led Louisville in sacks. former Big 12 Defensive Rookie of the Year Devonte Fields will play opposite Rankins and will help establish the Cardinals as one of college’s best defensive lines. Though they lost safety Gerod Holliman to the NFL, they still have many transfers and returning players that could make an impact in 2015.

With their team looking to re-establish themselves as one of ACC’s best, Louisville will have to dominate early on and defeat tough competition that includes Florida State and Clemson, among others.

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