LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (6-5, 5-3) At KENTUCKY WILDCATS (5-6, 2-6)
Game Time: 12:01 p.m.
Location: Commonwealth Stadium: Lexington, Ky.
Television: SEC Network
Announcers: Matt Neal (play-by-play), Matt Stinchcomb (analyst) and Kayce Smith (sidelines)
Favorite: Louisville by 5.5
All-Time Series: Kentucky leads 14-13
Modern Series: Louisville leads 13-8
Last Meeting: Louisville won 44-40 last season at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium
Complete Series History:
|Date||Site||Winning team||Losing team||Series|
|2002-09-01||Louisville||Kentucky||22||Louisville (17)||17||UK 10-5|
|2005-09-04||Lexington||Louisville (12)||31||Kentucky||24||UK 10-8|
|2006-09-03||Louisville||Louisville (13)||59||Kentucky||28||UK 10-9|
|2007-09-15||Lexington||Kentucky||40||Louisville (9)||34||UK 11-9|
|2012-09-02||Louisville||Louisville (25)||32||Kentucky||14||UK 14-11|
|2013-09-14||Lexington||Louisville (7)||27||Kentucky||13||UK 14-12|
|2014-11-29||Louisville||Louisville (22)||44||Kentucky||40||UK 14-13
About The Governor's Cup
The Governor's Cup was created in 1994 as the trophy for the winner of the Kentucky-Louisville game.
Donated by The Kroger Company at a cost of $23,000, the Governor's Cup stands 33 inches tall and weighs 110 pounds. The trophy's base and upright columns are hand-milled black marble. The glass components are optic-grade crystal. All metal parts are 23-karat, gold-plated brass. The cup itself is made of pewter with a 23-karat gold-plated finish.
The Governor's Cup currently resides in Louisville.
Louisville Depth Chart:
Kentucky's football season started off extremely well with a 4-1 record that included a road win against South Carolina. That start turned out to be fool's gold as UK absolutely collapsed after a close loss to Auburn. The Wildcatswent on to be blown out in three straight games and followed those up with a loss to Vanderbilt. The offense has been unimpressive all year but they have some playmakers that can do some serious damage when they get the ball.
Patrick Towles was (finally?) benched last week in favor of redshirt freshman Drew Barker. I'll be honest, there isn't a lot to go off of with Barker. For whatever reason, Mark Stoops chose to sit Barker for the vast majority of this season even when Towles was struggling. It begged the question of how bad Barker must be if he can't play ahead of Towles. Barker showed some flashes of his potential this past weekend against Charlotte. He has a powerful arm and the ball gets on the receiver very quickly. However, his issues start with his arm strength. He tends to throw high when he misses and at times it seems like he might trust his arm strength too much and deliver a little late. That's a normal thing for a young guy to wait that extra second to make sure that the receiver is open but it could lead to a turnover or two this weekend.
The strength of the entire Kentucky football team is their group of running backs. Boom Williams and JoJo Kemp provide the big play ability and Mikel Horton brings the power. All three running backs have made an impact at some point this year and all three can hit a big play at any given time. Yet, for some reason, UK only runs the ball with those three players 27 times a game. I feel like I'm saying the same thing I said last year when Boom Williams entered the game averaging 7 touches a game. Well, that number has doubled and it's still not enough. Williams is the most dynamic player on this offense and he should get the ball more.
In general UK needs to run the ball more than they are. They are coming into this game ranked 104th in the country in rushes per game with 34. With all of the issues they've had trying to find consistency in the passing game, you would think they would rely on the one area that they have been consistent. You have to wonder if UK puts the game into the hands of it's running backs in hopes that the play action game opens up fo Barker and his big arm.
UK, again, has a very solid group of wide receivers. It seems like every year they have a group of guys that have good size and speed with one player being more of a focal point. This year Dorian Baker and Garrett Johnson are sharing that distinction. Baker leads the team in targets and catches while Johnson leads in yards. Baker is a big, physical possession guy who is averaging under 10 yards per catch. Baker poses a big concern as he is the type of player that matches up well with Louisville's smaller corners. Johnson, like Tyler Boyd, will be matched up with safeties a few times and we all know how much of an issue that can cause. Johnson is also the big play threat in the passing game. Boyd is a great receiver, but he's not a big play guy. Kermit Whitfield is a big play guy and I would compare Johnson's potential impact to Whitfield's more than Boyd. If Louisville lets guys like Jeff Badet and Blake Bone make plays on the outside it likely means that UK's offense is playing very well. That has to be avoided.
The Wildcat's offensive line hasn't been a strong group for the offense this year. Like last year, a veteran starts at left tackle in Jordan Swindle. Swindle is a good player but the rest of the line hasn't fared so well. Patrick Towles had a big issue with holding the ball too long but there were also plenty of times where he was under siege much too quickly. Right tackle has been a big issue all year for UK but they've settled on Kyle Meadows as the starter for Saturday. Meadows has done well against power but he has been a complete liability when facing speed rushers. UofL's outside linebackers could be in for a big game Saturday.
KEY PLAYERS: RB Boom Williams, RB JoJo Kemp, WR Dorian Baker, WR Garret "Juice" Johsnon, LT Jordan Swindle
When Kentucky hired Mark Stoops it did what most schools do and hired a coach who specialized in the opposite side of the ball from the coach that just left. Stoops led Florida State's defenses to very strong results so they picked a guy that had shown that he knew defense very well. Throw in his family name and one would expect that Kentucky's defense would the strong point on this team. That hasn't been the case so far during Stoops' time as the head coach. UK had two defensive ends drafted last year after good seasons but there hasn't been much else to be excited about. Kentucky will need an outstanding performance from their defense Saturday to pull off the upset.
The defensive line for Kentucky has been a mixed bag of stellar play and lack of production. Corey Johnson is one of the better defensive players Louisville has faced this year. As a defensive tackle, Johnson has had a few unbelievable games including a 19 tackle performance in a close game against EKU. That's absurd. Johnson is also an outstanding athlete for his size as he displayed last weekend when he spun around and made a diving interception near the sideline. Johnson is an outstanding player that will be matched up with Skylar Lacy fairly often Saturday. Lacy will have to have one of his best games.
The rest of the defensive line isn't putting up near the production that Johnson is.Melvin Lewis was injured in their three point loss to Auburn and UK immediately gave up 200+ rushing yards in their next three games. Lewis' replacement? Former 5-starMatt Elam. I pride myself on not talking down about players from either team but Matt Elam doesn't do anything well on the football field. For a guy his size, he should demand double teams and at times he is being double teamed. The issue is that he doesn't force a double team and he doesn't create havoc. Guys his size should be pushing guys back into the pocket or the running back. He should be taking up two blockers and allowing the linebackers to run freely. Instead, he is typically blocked easily by one linemen and if they double team him, the second blocker can peel off to get to the linebacker. This defense was pretty good with Melvin Lewis. They've been terrible with Matt Elam.
The group of linebackers for the Wildcats is led by Josh Forrest and his insane motor. Forrest got some love on the All-SEC teams last year but he has really been impacted by the loss of Lewis. Forrest has had multiple games where he has made two tackles or less. He's a much better player than that. However, he isn't a physical guy and doesn't take on blockers very well. What he does really well is run and with blockers getting to him he's not able to do that.
Forrest is flanked by Jason Hatcher on the strong side and Khalid Henderson and Ryan Flannigan on the weakside. The outside players are very similar to the defensive ends for Kentucky as they don't make a lot of impact plays. They're all solid players but none of them play the pass very well and they aren't good blitzers. Hatcher could be an option as a pass rusher opposite Denzel Ware on passing downs and I do think that could be an issue for Louisville. The tackles don't handle speed very well and both have plenty of that.
Kentucky finally found two new cornerbacks. Fred Tiller and Cody Quinn have seemingly been the starters forever and they spent their careers getting picked apart byTeddy Bridgewater and DeVante Parker. Kentucky made the change to a pair of very tall and lanky true freshmen in Chris Westry (6-4) and Derrick Baity (6-3). Westry will likely end up on a few freshmen All-American lists this year with his 8 PBUs and two picks. Westry knows how to use his size and length to make plays and he has improved as the season has progressed. Baity isn't there yet, to put it bluntly. He still gets lost at times when he's beat. Good corners know how to recover and if Baity can get there I think UK will have two guys that can greatly improve their defense. You can't teach size and these guys have it by the boatload.
For whatever reason, safety has been an issue for Kentucky this year. If there was an area on this defense that I thought would be perfectly fine headed into the season it would be in the back end. Marcus McWilson and A.J. Stamps are both very good tacklers and Stamps played very well as a deep safety last year. Mike Edwards has been siphoning the playing time of one or the other since the Mississippi State game and UK's defense has been giving up ridiculous amounts of rushing yards since.......the Mississippi State game. Edwards is a better player against the pass than McWilson but Stamps is a proven player as he had four picks last year, including one against Louisville. I would imagine that there are things that have happened that I just haven't seen but I just don't get it. Stamps has earned his starting role back and he will be playing ahead of McWilson. I would imagine that things could change if UofL gets the running game going.
KEY PLAYERS: DT Corey Johnson, MLB Josh Forrest, CB Chris Westry, S A.J. Stamps, S Marcus McWilson
Excitement Level: 9.0
It's hard for the meter to dip below 9.0 when Louisville is playing Kentucky in anything, but especially in a case where the Wildcat fans have spent a significant chunk of the year being very, shall we say, vocal, and when U of L has the potential to rip BBN's dreams of playing in a bowl game away for a second straight year.
Game Attire: Jeans, red Louisville zip-up, grey Old English L hat
Gotta go red for the rivalry game ... although I would have been faced with a dilemma had the black jacket stretched its winning streak to five last week.
Pregame Meal: Chili, Thanksgiving leftovers, beer
Again, I don't really do lunch, but Mrs. CC will fork stab me if she gets up early to make this chili and I don't eat any. Would be a rough start to a big day.
I might have a bagel though.
Bold Prediction: Joshua Appleby runs for a first down
If you're going to bold predict wrong all season, at least bold predict wrong big. It makes sense, just read it twice.
Cole Hikutini Touchdown Alert Level: Mahogany (It's happening)
This may be the most confident the alert level has ever been about anything. That should tell you something.
Predicted Star of the Game: Lamar Jackson
I have zero insight into which player is going to start this game at quarterback, but I would be shocked if Jackson doesn't wind up playing a significant role, and I'm betting the "Year of the Predicted Star of the Game" reputation on his ability to capitalize on the moment.
Motivational Opposition Tweets:
Legitimately just find any person who supports Kentucky athletics on Twitter and that should do the trick.
--Louisville enters this year's Battle for the Governor's Cup having won four consecutive games over Kentucky. Neither team has won five straight games over the other in the modern era of the rivalry, which began in 1994.
--The team that had rushed for more yards had won the last 18 meetings between Louisville and Kentucky before last season. The Wildcats won the battle on the ground in that game, but still lost 44-40.
--In 11 of the last 15 years, the leading rusher on the victorious team has out-rushed the entire losing squad.
--Louisville is 27-2 over the last three seasons when attempting at least 35 rushes in a game. The only two losses came last year at Clemson, and in the 2015 season-opener against Auburn.
--The team that has scored first has gone on to win 12 of the last 14 times these two have met. The two exceptions are the 2011 game, when Louisville overcame an early 3-0 deficit to win 24-17, and last season, when the Cards trailed 13-0 before mounting a comeback behind third-string quarterback Ky;e Bolin.
--The team that has produced the least turnovers has won 13 of the last 16 meetings in this series.
--The favorite is 13-8 straight up in the modern era of the series, but has only covered twice in the last six years.
--Home teams are just 10-11 in the modern era of the series.
--Saturday will mark the first time since 2011 that Louisville has not gone into its game against Kentucky nationally ranked. U of L has been ranked seven times in the Battle for the Governor's Cup series.
--Kentucky has never been ranked in the top 25 when playing Louisville.
--A victory over Kentucky will ensure the Cards of their sixth straight winning season.
--Louisville has given up four passing touchdowns in back-to-back games for only the third time in school history (Illinois and Oklahoma in 1999; Kentucky and Syracuse in 2007).
--Kentucky's running back quartet of JoJo Kemp, Mikel Horton, Sihiem King and Boom Williams have combined for 1,760 yards on 287 carries, an average of 6.1 yards per carry
--Kentucky has won 27 consecutive games when staked to a third-quarter lead, the longest streak in the SEC. UK is 10-0 in the coach Mark Stoops era when holding a lead entering the fourth quarter.
--Bobby Petrino is 5-0 against Kentucky as Louisville's head coach.
--Louisville has won 12 consecutive games when kicking off to begin the game, and has lost eight of its last 12 when receiving the opening kickoff.
--Louisville is 17-4 in the month of November with Bobby Petrino as its head coach.
--Louisville is currently riding a consecutive game scoring streak that spans 197 games dating back to the 2000 season. The streak ranks as the third longest in the ACC behind only Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech.
--Louisville is 168-9 all-time when scoring 35 or more points in a game. The Cards are also 5-101 all-time when allowing opponents to score 40 or more points. One of those five victories came last season against Kentucky.
--''It's really about us winning and finishing our season. Playing for our seniors and taking care of our business. I think that's what the No. 1 thing is.'' --Bobby Petrino
--"In any rivalry game, there is going to be more emotions involved and we have to be able to handle that. It is important for us to get that sixth win and important for us to beat Louisville and end the season on a much more positive note." --Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops
--"We just want to win. That ain't different, but I feel like there's more seniors on the field now. It actually like means a lot to us. I don't know if that means anything, but with a lot of seniors being on the field I feel like the fight is going to be a lot greater." --Kentucky defensive tackle C.J. Johnson
--"We just don't want to have that same feeling and we're in the same predicament as last year except for we're at home on our home turf and we think that will be very special if we get that sixth win at home." --Kentucky running back Boom Williams
--"Bragging rights are at stake. Coach Petrino is 5-0 against them. We've got to keep that going, keep the winning streak going against them and just get this team win." --Jamari Staples
--"We want payback, man. We want to work and just control what we can control, attack the week and just be ready to play come Saturday." --Kentucky running back JoJo Kemp
--"Coach Petrino has made us well-aware of his record against them. He is adamant about going out there and taking care of business, as he is every week." --Sheldon Rankins
--"I can't wait to get another shot at those guys." --Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles
--"Same story. We just got to write a different ending." --Kentucky defensive tackle Farrington Huguenin
--"It will mean a lot to (Petrino). It will probably almost be like winning a championship game honestly. This is my first time playing against them. I want to beat them just as bad as he does. I think it should be a fun game." --Jamari Staples
--"We obviously want this game as bad as any game just to go out on a good note. Adding the fact that it's Kentucky, and I haven't lost to them, that's icing on the cake." --Sheldon Rankins
--"We put ourselves in this position with some miscues late in the season. So it is what it is and now we need to go out and play well in this game. It always has importance and I think it is very important to us this year." --Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops
--"(The series) is very big for the program. That an in-state rival. I personally have never lost to Kentucky since I've been in college. They're a good team, though, a physical team. We'll have to play four quarters, and we can't have the effort that our defense had in the first half last week. We are looking forward to the challenge and hopefully will come out with a victory." --James Burgess
--"Anytime you play a rivalry because they're right down the street it's like bragging rights. You want to go out and fight, have a dog fight out there. We plan on making it like that this year too because I don't like them." --Kentucky defensive tackle C.J. Johnson
Card Chronicle Prediction: Louisville 28, Kentucky 20