Rivalry Week Wednesday links

--We're now a mere 72 hours away from the big game, and....still nothing. No trash talk, no car flags, no hideous logo-embroidered dress shirts at work. Louisville fans still think they're about to get smacked and Kentucky fans are still too nervous to gloat.

I really think all this stems from the fact that Cardinal fans have gotten so used to success that a healthy dose of failure has made them overly pessimistic. On the other hand, the members of Big Blue Nation are so used to looking forward to football season solely because of tailgating that they're overly cautious even after enjoying a healthy dose of success.

These ingredients, combined with a few more, have resulted in the big bowl of silence that has been this week.

--And then there's A Sea of Blue's Ken Howlett, who throws caution to the wind and offers up four reasons why Kentucky rolls on Saturday.

4. 27 - 2 -- The score of last season's Governor's Cup contest might seem irrelevant, and it probably is, but I can't help but come back to this -- Last year, U of L played Kentucky at home, with a new starting quarterback in Hunter Cantwell; this year, U of L plays Kentucky on the road, with once again, a new starting quarterback.  Last year, U of L played Kentucky at home, against a defense superior to the Cardinal offense; this year, U of L plays Kentucky on the road, against a defense seemingly superior to the Cardinal offense.  Last year, U of L played Kentucky at home, while the 'Cats broke-in a new quarterback; this year, U of L plays Kentucky on the road, while the 'Cats sport a significantly improved, and more experienced quarterback.  Last year, U of L lost to Kentucky, at home, 27-2; this year U of L ...

--Even if U of L fans aren't fired up, Steve Kragthorpe is. Don't believe me? Check out this tweet from last night.

Great attention to detail in our special teams units today in practice. Goettsche kicked the ball well. Great hang time and distance.

The Battle for the Governor's Cup always brings out his inner Ali.

--Speaking of special teams, Kragthorpe will name his starting kicker - Chris Philpott or Ryan Payne - on Thursday.

--Mark Maloney writes about Lexington natives Pete Nochta and Daniel Covington coming home to play inside Commonwealth Stadium, and both men represent the U of L program very well.

Covington, U of L's second-leading tackler last season (66), has no complaints this year, even though junior-college transfer Terrence Simien has taken his starting job.

"It's not been tough to take," said Covington, who had two tackles in the opener. "It's whatever's best for the team."

Nochta also gets himself back in my good graces by admitting how little he cares for the Kentucky football program.

What if he had to choose between beating UK or winning a Big East title?

"I really don't like them so I'm going to have to say Kentucky," said Nochta, whose dad, John, played for UK and is principal at Henry Clay High School. "Then we'll see what happens down the road, try to knock them both out."

--Not representing his program well: UK linebacker Ridge Wilson, who has officially been suspended for the Louisville game after being charged with fourth-degree assault.

--There a few legitimate reasons for Kentucky to be afraid of Louisville, one of them being Trent Guy's ability to bust the big one on kick returns.

Fear of kick returns: Brooks' voice rose a couple of octaves during his Monday press luncheon when asked about kick coverage. He wasn't auditioning for American Idol.

Tim Masthay is gone. So touchbacks are gone. Against Miami, on average, UK's seven kickoffs reached the RedHawks' 9-yard line. Luckily, Miami didn't possess a dangerous return man.

Louisville does have a dangerous return man. Two years ago at Commonwealth, Trent Guy returned a kickoff 100 yards for a score. He's still around. And chances are, he'll get some chances to repeat that feat Saturday.

The C-J's Brett Dawson also tackles the topic.

It doesn't have to come via a kick return, but there is zero chance (zero chance!) that Louisville wins this game without at least one giant, non-offensive play. Could it be a 70-yard behind-the-back pass from Goettsche to Rock Keys? Of course it could.

--ESPN's Pat Forde gives the game a line in the latest installment of his Forde Yard Dash.

And this week's rivalry game, Louisville-Kentucky (16), is still better off as a season opener (which it is when played at Louisville) than as an anonymous third-week game (which it is when played at Kentucky).

--Wednesday is apparently D-Line focus day on game week, as C.L. Brown and Chip Cosby take a look at the unit for the Cards and the Cats, respectively.

--The more I hear from him, the more I like Justin Burke.

It's a compliment he takes with a grain of salt. He'd like to think he's athletic too, but he doesn't think being hailed for his intelligence works against him.

"I like to be seen as the unathletic nerd," Burke said. "That's my thing, because then when you step on the field you can get an edge on people. I mean, I don't wear Poindexter glasses or anything. I'm still a competitive football player out there - let's not get that mistaken."

...

It's a challenge Burke has been thinking about since arriving on campus more than a year ago. Though he remained neutral about the rivalry growing up, he's a full-fledged Cardinal now. And the city where he grew up is a decidedly different place now that he's wearing red and not Kentucky blue.

"Right now, it's like a foreign city to me," he said. "There's the Burke complex and then there's the rest of the city. I don't feel like I can go out very comfortably anymore around there."

I can't help but say it. If, IF, we beat these guys, how fantastic would it be?

Pants-shedding fantastic.

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