In college football rankings, a Big East team like Louisville must have all their ducks in a row and higher ranked teams must lose if they want a decent ranking. At least that is how it appears leading up to the end of the season.
The truth is Louisville hasn't played the toughest schedule. In fact they are 77th in TeamRankings.com's strength of schedule power ratings.
Louisville seemed to be heading on the right track going into last week's game against Syracuse. The Cardinals were 9-0, ranked in the top 10 in college football rankings and projected to go to either the Orange Bowl or Sugar Bowl.
Then the Cardinals got trapped by the Orange, losing 45-26. The Cardinals then fell from being ranked in the top 10 to being ranked in the top 20.
Not that any team can lose on any given Saturday, but if Louisville wants to make it to a big bowl they do not have much leeway.
As college football is in its 12th week, the Louisville Cardinals have a much needed bye week.
Louisville has some key injuries at the running back and offensive line, as well as some issues on special teams and defense.
Charlie Strong said in his Monday press conference via GoCards.com:
Our open week comes at the right time. For our players, they just need to rest mentally and physically. This has been a special season. Our players have made an unbelievable run. The bigger goal is still to be met. The important thing is for us not to let one setback turn to frustration, excuse making, lack of responsibility and poor individual habits.
This week's bye also has the potential to help in the Cardinals rankings as well. Since Louisville has a 9-1 record that will not change after this week, the Cardinals can only move up (at least in the computer rankings).
Let's take a look at some games that have the potential to help Louisville's rankings.
No.18 USC at No. 17 UCLA
The Trojans come into the game with a 7-3 record and have yet to beat a ranked opponent. A loss on Saturday would likely push USC out of the top 25.
UCLA can still stay in the top 25 if they lose, but will move a couple of spots back in ranking.
Either way Louisville will have a great chance of moving up at least one spot due to this game.
No. 12 Oklahoma at West Virginia
This could be a trap game for the Sooners who come into the game ranked 12th. West Virginia has a very high-powered offense led by quarterback Geno Smith who has plenty of weapons to throw the ball to and has the ability to beat teams with his legs.
The Sooners are coming off a game where they allowed 252 yards on the ground in their win over Baylor and also allowed Notre Dame to run for 215 yards earlier in the season.
No. 13 Stanford at No. 2 Oregon
This game would only help Louisville's rankings if Stanford loses. The Stanford Cardinal would have an 8-3 record if they fall to the Ducks.
If Louisville ends their season with only one loss, they would have the potential to get a higher ranking against a Stanford team with three losses.
If those games could help Louisville's rankings, then the Rutgers at Cincinnati game has the potential to hurt them.
Rutgers come into the game ranked 22nd and is first in Big East standings. A loss to Cincinnati would give both Rutgers and Louisville one loss in Big East conference play.
Cincinnati, whom Louisville beat in overtime, is 7-2 on the season and comes into the game unranked. A win over Rutgers could get them back in rankings.
The biggest concern here is that Louisville plays Rutgers in their final game of the regular season. The higher Rutgers move up the rankings, the better Louisville looks if they win.
No matter how this week turns out, Louisville must still win their final two games to get a BCS bowl. But the Cardinals can rest this week knowing they cannot hurt themselves in the eyes of college football rankings.
Rankings for this article were taken from BCS Standings unless otherwise noted.
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