LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit was on the field in New Orleans in January when UofL beat #3 Florida 33-23.
"That's the one thing I think that sometimes people don't realize, is that when you win a game the way Louisville did against Florida, on a big stage. Not only is great that night, when the confetti is coming down, but what happens is that following year, there is a ton of momentum that is created from a victory like that," Herbstreit said.
He was impressed with Cards quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and says UofL will start 2013 near the top of the polls.
"I think Louisville is going to be a top 5 or top 6 team in the preseason and they've got a star in Teddy Bridgewater, who is without a doubt, along with Johnny Manziel and Braxton Miller, the top three candidates going in, as far as the Heisman hype begins."
The biggest challenge for UofL in 2013 figures to be a watered down conference. They have one more year in the watered down Big East before moving to the ACC in 2014.
Herbstreit says that will make it difficult for the Cards to stay in the National Championship conversation. "I think Louisville is going to be in a very tough position because of the schedule that they play, because of the conference that they play. They cannot get to the ACC fast enough. They are essentially like Boise State to me, this year. Boise State needed to win games early, they needed to look good doing it, and they had to run the table. There was no margin of error for Boise State. The same will be true for Louisville in 2013. Not only do they have to win all their games, they have to look good doing it."
The former Ohio State quarterback is close with new UK head coach Mark Stoops and sees signs of a major turn around in Lexington.
"Vanderbilt is doing it, they won 9 games last year. James Franklin infused that program with a lot of energy and a lot of belief. I think that's what Mark Stoops is trying to do in Lexington," Herbstreit said.
" I'm a very good friend of Mark's, I know him very well, from way back when he was just a defensive backs coach at Miami. He and I have stayed in touch for a long time, I'm a huge advocate of his, I believe in what he has to offer. I can see why the Big Blue Nation is excited, over 50,000 at their Spring Game. I think that kind of energy has to continue into the fall, and I think it will. I think he needs to be able to go out and recruit for another two or three years to get the foundation to compete and get this program in the SEC East , to compete with Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. Right now you have to be excited about the direction that that program is heading, and the buzz that's around it. I haven't seen Kentucky football have this kind of buzz in a long time, if ever."
Could we one day see ESPN College GameDay back in the Bluegrass State?
"I would love it. WIth the ability of Charlie, he's proven what he can do with that program. Mark, I think it's going to be tougher to do in the SEC East, but I think, boy that would be a lot of fun. I would never even think about that before, but to have a game in September between those two teams, it would be fun to come in and be able to check them out."
While that might be a few years down the road, Herbstreit's next trip to Louisville is next week. He's a regular at the Kentucky Derby.
"I've been there for the last 10 years," he said. "I take it all in, I have to be there Friday by 10 a.m. for the first race on Oaks Day. I go with my uncle Rick, who lives right there in Louisville. We just love going, love the tradition of it."
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