LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The University of Louisville football team was picked to finish third in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Atlantic Division, according to a poll of 158 media members in attendance at the 2015 ACC Football Kickoff at Pinehurst Resort in Greensboro, N.C.
Clemson, the preseason favorite to claim the ACC football championship, was also picked over three-time defending ACC champion Florida State to capture the Atlantic Division, while Georgia Tech was favored to repeat as the Coastal Division winner.
The Cardinals, who earned one first-place vote, finished with a 9-4 overall record in their inaugural season in the ACC in 2014, including a 5-3 league mark, and return 11 starters from a program that advanced to its fifth-consecutive bowl game. The team enters its sixth overall season under head coach Bobby Petrino, who boasts an impressive 50-13 mark at the helm of the program and is the 12th-winningest FBS college football coach with a 92-34 mark.
Defensively, Louisville returns four starters from a unit that ranked top-10 nationally. Senior linebacker James Burgess and senior defensive end Sheldon Rankins headline the group, with both earning preseason accolades. Burgess was tabbed to the Butkus, Nagurski, and Lombardi Award lists, while Rankins was named to the Lombardi, Nagurski, and Bednarik Award watch lists.
Offensively, the team begins the season with six returning starters – including quarterbacks Reggie Bonnafon and Will Gardner. Arguably the team’s top performer from the unit is running back Brandon Radcliff. The junior played in all 13 games last year, compiling 737 yards and 12 touchdowns, and 5.1 yards per carry average.
Louisville opens the 2015 season against Auburn in the Chick-Fil-A Classic in Atlanta, Ga., at 3:30 p.m. on CBS.
In the Atlantic Division preseason voting, Clemson received 101 first-place votes and finished with 1,032 total points. Florida State received 56 first-place votes and placed second with 992 points, while Louisville had one first-place vote and was third in the voting with 746 points.
Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, a true freshman last season, was voted the 2015 ACC Preseason Player of the Year.
Georgia Tech was selected the likely Coastal winner by 96 voters and finished with 991 total points, followed by Virginia Tech with 44 first-place votes and 841 points. Miami received seven first-place votes and was third in the voting with 632 total points.