From games against powerhouses Alabama and this season’s Labor Day bout with the Fighting Irish to big market kick-off games against local teams such as Purdue or Western Kentucky, the Cardinals have not shied away from tough out-of-conference competition. Louisville has scheduled a very interesting and exciting slate of non-conference games for the forseeable future. From series spanning several seasons to two-year home and homes and even a kickoff game or two, the Cards have set themselves up to stand in the national spotlight for a very long time. So let’s rank the most exciting games and series in the Cards.
5. USF (2022, 2024, 2026)
The Bulls have stayed competitive in an ever-improving AAC due to prime recruiting grounds in South Florida. These games, therefore, will allow Louisville to showcase itself to those same Florida recruits and bring value to their already nationally respected brand. Also, the current coach of the Bulls is former Louisville head man Charlie Strong, adding a layer of familiarity and intrigue to the matchup.
4. Indiana (Indianapolis, Bloomington and Louisville, 2023-2025)
The Hoosiers have, to put it nicely, not been very good for a long time. But that doesn’t mean this series is one to overlook. Due to the proximity, the Hoosiers and Cards are natural rivals. These fanbases already have an established rivalry due to basketball, which would be brought onto the gridiron. Regardless of football performance, this is still a tilt between Power 5 foes – something you can’t overlook.
3. UCF (home and home 2021 and 2022)
The Cards will play another Group of 5 powerhouse from Florida when the Cards play the Knights. UCF has made waves the past few seasons by consistently playing and winning New Year’s Six bowls, while winning two AAC titles, going 25-1 and claiming a National Title. You know, the usual. There isn’t a better G5 team to play than UCF, who is looking to overcome their conference schedule’s weakness with more Power 5 games. The last time UCF and Louisville lined up, the Knights crushed Louisville’s undefeated in a last-second win in 2013. To put it bluntly, Louisville owes them one.
2. Ole Miss (2021 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff game)
In 2015, the Louisville Cardinals faced with a top-10 SEC West powerhouse in Auburn. Louisville, led by true freshman QB Lamar Jackson, gave Auburn a game but lost by 7. Now Louisville will face another SEC West foe – the Ole Miss Rebels. The Cards and Hotty Toddy have never faced each other, but a matchup between historic Power 5 teams in prime time will be a huge draw.
1. Notre Dame (2020, 2023, 2026, 2032, 2033, 2035)
In 2014, an experienced Louisville squad led by Reggie Bonnafon led the Cardinals upset the Irish in South Bend in front of a very large Card contingent. The Cards and Fighting Irish have already squared off this season, with the Irish winning 35-17 in Louisville. As the Irish play several ACC schools a year as part of their deal with the conference, the future of this series is sure to be bright. Combine the growth we expect under Satterfield with the national brand of Notre Dame, and these games will turn heads every year.