The Louisville Cardinals are the favorites to win the first ever American Athletic Conference football championship, according to a poll of media members at the conference’s Media Day.
The Cardinals last season won a tiebreaker to represent the Big East in a Bowl Championship game—and they won it, stunning the Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl. They finished the season 11-2. Because of conference realignment, the Cardinals find themselves in the (essentially) new American Athletic Conference for a single season before heading to the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014.
With most starters returning—including Teddy Bridgewater, the star quarterback—the Cardinals got 28 of the 30 first-place votes from media members. Cincinnati finished second and got the two other first-place votes.
Speaking Tuesday during the AAC’s Media Day, Louisville head coach Charlie Strong was more interested in “managing expectation.”
“Right now, there’s been some unrealistic expectations placed on our program,” said Strong, who is entering his fourth season at UofL.
In essence, Strong doesn’t want his players to get too confident.
“I’d rather be picked high than low, without a doubt,” Strong said. “But a lot of times when I’m low at least I can sneak up on someone. Now I can’t. There’s no sneaking up on anyone. Everyone’s going to be waiting on us.”
The Cardinals kick off the 2013 season on Sept. 1 against Ohio at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. They’ll play Eastern Kentucky at home on Sept. 7 and travel to Lexington to play the Kentucky Wildcats on Sept. 14.
Here’s the rest of the schedule. Home games in bold.
Sept. 21 Florida International
Oct. 5 Temple
Oct. 10 Rutgers
Oct. 18 Central Florida
Oct. 26 South Florida
Nov. 8 UConn
Nov. 16 Houston
Nov. 23 Memphis
Dec. 5 Cincinnati