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What To Watch For: Kentucky Wildcats

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 13 Syracuse at Louisville Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

LOUISIVLLE HAS TO WIN THE TURNOVER BATTLE

Kentucky is one of the worst teams in the country when it comes to turning the ball over and they are equal opportunity when it comes to when, how, and who they turn it over to. This past weekend they turned over 4 times against New Mexico State but against Georgia they held onto the ball all game. They have 7 total turnovers in their two games against non-power five teams this season.

This is the second worst team in the country when it comes to turnover margin and they’re 22 total turnovers are third worst in the nation. They’re essentially 2019 Louisville without all the losses. And that’s the key. UK has won games even though they have turned the ball over this many times. They’re resilient and experienced. Louisville has to both force turnovers as well as take advantage when they do.

UOFL NEEDS BIG PLAYS ON OFFENSE BUT MUST SUTAIN DRIVES

The Louisville offense under Scott Satterfield has been known for explosive plays but this year they haven’t had as many as they had in the previous two seasons. However, the last two weeks has shown that they have the ability to hit big plays in the pass and run game.

The Cards have to be able to find ways to create big plays against this UK defense that does such a good job of containing things. Getting Tyler Harrell and Jordan Watkins behind the defense will be tough, but scheming guys open like we’ve seen with Marshon Ford and the running backs might work. The running game is where they really need big runs because that could force UK to adjust their game plan.

While the big plays are important, UofL has to be able to sustain drives and work the clock. Louisville’s losses this season have one thing in common. The offense has been poor on third downs and it has led to long spells of ineffective drives. Kentucky allows 4.84 yards per carry on first down. Louisville absolutely has to take advantage of that. Get the running game going and get first downs so that you’re not putting the defense in bad positions.

KENTUCKY WILL TRY TO STOP THE RUN WITHOUT ADDING PLAYERS TO THE BOX

In my non-expert opinion, Louisville has faced three teams this year with a similar scheme or philosophy as UK’s defensive scheme. Ole Miss, NC State, and Syracuse run some sort of 3-3-5 that focuses on keeping things in front of them. Ole Miss is aggressive with their scheme and NC State is more passive but Syracuse is somewhere in the middle of the other two. Kentucky isn’t an exact replica of any of these schools but, to me, it is similar to NC State in the way that it likes to contain the opposing offense.

All three of these teams did one thing that I think UK will attempt to do this weekend. They utilized a strong defensive line to eat up blockers and their inside linebackers were able to get penetration against the run. UK will do the same, in my opinion. Every team that faces Louisville wants to be able to stop the run without bringing up a safety to help in run support. UK has a massive defensive line that is tough to move. UofL will likely look to work the edges even more this week to force those big guys to run to make plays.

THIS IS THE TYPE OF GAME YOU SIGN UP FOR

UofL gets a home rivalry game under the lights on a Saturday night. This is the type of big-time college football game coaches talk up during their recruiting trips. It’s the type of game that makes high school players pick a power five school in the first place.

While this isn’t a matchup of top-10 teams, it is one of the rare times in recent history that neither team is flat out bad. Both teams are coming in bowl-eligeble and UK was ranked in the top-15 a month or so ago. while UofL hasn’t met expectations this year, they are coming off of two games where they combined to score over 100 points. The fans have something to look forward to even if the season isn’t what they want it to be.