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Jake Lourim of the Courier Journal shows Cardinals fixtures in the 2018 football season in Louisville.
Scott Utterback, Louisville Messenger Journal

The loss of quarterback Lamar Jackson and a key defender in Jaire Alexander has raised questions and lowered expectations of Louisville's 2018 season. So we see every game of the regular season. Agree? Disagreeing?

Sept. 1 vs Alabama in Orlando

If Jackson played, it would be a fascinating duel in which Louisville would get a chance to make a fuss. Since he is not, the cards are not on the same level as the national champions. Anyone playing Alabama between Jalen Hurts or Tua Tagovailoa quarterback – and we'll probably see both – has an advantage against the defense of Louisville. Alabama, 45-14.

Sept. 8 against Indiana State

Indiana State was one of three winless teams in the Football Championship Subdivision last season. The Sycamores threw 10 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Louisville should recover from the Alabama game and stylishly open its newly renovated stadium. Louisville, 52-10.

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Sept. 15 vs. Western Kentucky

The Hilltoppers, who have not played in Louisville since 1998, have had teams battling the cards for the past seven years. It does not look like one of them early on. WKU will still recover from the loss of quarterback Mike White and will not count on catching a young Louisville team in a trap when it's early in the season on a Saturday night. Louisville, 41-21.

Sept. 22 in Virginia

Virginia fought Louisville in the past and played a bowl game last season, but the Cavaliers seem to be taking a step back this season. The game depends mainly on the two new quarterbacks Pass and Bryce Perkins. Enter the border there. A 3-1 start would be a confidence booster for Louisville. Louisville, 28-18

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Sept. 29 against Florida State

Can Louisville make it three against Powerhouse Seminoles? If the cards manage it, their lead against one of ACC's best programs will include two FSU head coaches, home and away coaches, and two Louisville quarterbacks. But Willie Taggart has revived the FSU program, and if quarterback Deondre Francois is healthy, he's an improvement over James Blackman. Florida State, 33-24.

October 5 vs. Georgia Tech

Then Louisville has to come back and play Georgia Tech in a short week, which has been causing problems for the cards in the past. They may be contradictory, but on paper the Yellow Jackets look like one of the conference's more promising teams. The slowdown in TaQuon Marshall and the triple option will be difficult for Louisville's young defense. Georgia Tech, 37-21.

October 13 at Boston College

This is one of the three or four toughest games in Louisville. The defense had no answers for the Boston College that AJ Dillon ran back last season, and Dillon is a hoarse contender for a dark horse second grader. The cards beat the Eagles 2016 on their last trip to Chestnut Hill. This year will be different. Boston College, 28-23.

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Oct. 27 against Wake Forest

Wake Forest has a chance to be strong again, with four fifth-graders and a Redshirt junior on the offensive line. But quarterback John Wolford is gone, and with his replacement for Kendall Hinton for the first three games, this position is uncertain. Louisville changed its season after the bye week last year, and this time it is motivated to avoid a fourth direct loss. Louisville, 31-27.

November 3 at Clemson

Clemson will only be tougher with the monsters on the defensive this season. The quarterback competition between Kelly Bryant and Trevor Lawrence is scheduled for November. And the game is in Death Valley for an electrifying atmosphere. This one could become ugly. Clemson, 41-10

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Nov. 9 in Syracuse

Syracuse's fate hangs back on the health of quarterback Eric Dungey, who missed the game last season in Louisville when the cards rolled, 56-10. Louisville could sneak into it after traveling to Clemson and can not afford to endure in a difficult road environment. The orange can not be happy about four straight breakouts by an average score of 31.5 points. Syracuse, 35-34.

November 17 against NC State

It is not yet clear if this would be an angry victory for Louisville. The Wolfpack finished last season with 9: 4, but lost his entire line of defense. Ryan Finley is back for a sixth season, but he may need more help than he will have for the defense. The cards will jump back and break their bad luck. Louisville, 42-28.

November 24 vs. Kentucky

It will not be easy to repeat the 45:17 last season's blowout after the Wildcats brought back a few defensive talents and star-running Benny Snell from last year's team. But Louisville has still recruited better, has the game at home and will play for the Bowl suitability after this prediction. Louisville, 30-24.

Jake Lourim: 502-582-4168; jlourim@courierjournal.com; Twitter: @jakelourim. Support strong local journalism by signing up today: courier-journal.com/jakel.