Another year, another ugly loss for Louisville to their most bitter rival. The Cardinals allowed 517 rushing yards as they suffered a 45-13 blowout loss to rival Kentucky.
Let’s get into the review, first evaluating the keys to the game provided on Wednesday.
Can Louisville force Kentucky into third-and-long situations?: F
Other than a few punts forced by Louisville’s defense, the story of the game was Kentucky’s rushing attack having a historic day at the expense of the Louisville defense. The Wildcats set a new single game school record with 517 rushing yards against the Cardinals, including 284 from quarterback Lynn Bowden. In addition, Kentucky averaged 12.9 yards per carry throughout the day, aided by four touchdowns of 30+ yards in the second half.
Kentucky did go 3-for-8 on third down conversions, but spent most of the day gashing Louisville for huge yards on the ground in early down situations. In addition to Bowden’s massive performance, Christopher Rodriguez and Kavosiey Smoke each averaged over 14 yards per carry, with Rodriguez also going for 125 yards himself.
Kentucky also never felt pressured once to throw the ball on any given drive. The Wildcats only attempted two passes, and one of those was a flea flicker with UK nursing a huge lead on U of L in the fourth quarter.
Will Louisville be able to throw the ball downfield?: F
Weather played a huge part in it, but Louisville wasn’t able to come through on the deep throws that made their offense so potent in ACC play. The Cardinals completed 10-of-19 passes for 109 yards for a touchdown and an interception. Aside from a 33-yard touchdown pass from Micale Cunningham to Tutu Atwell, Louisville’s other nine passes went for 76 yards. Louisville’s inability to stretch the field vertically allowed Kentucky’s defense to focus more on stopping the run and pressuring the Louisville QBs, holding the Cards to a shutout in the second half.
Can Louisville’s offensive line set the tone at the line of scrimmage?: D-
The other, but more notable, reason that Louisville’s offense struggled was because Kentucky’s front seven had their way against the Cardinals. The Wildcats hit new season-highs with six sacks and 13 tackles for loss, containing Louisville’s explosive passing game and bottling their running game to limited spurts. Louisville has now lost the last two games in the rivalry 101-23 and had 623 total yards in that span (by comparison, Kentucky has had 857 rushing yards in that span).
Not much else left to say in this one. I didn’t offer a prediction for the rivalry game, but I didn’t expect Louisville to get outclassed like they did against Kentucky. UK’s lines were able to set the tone all day long en route to a big win over Louisville, setting a new school record and stifling Louisville’s explosive offense all day long.
The lone bright spots of the game for Louisville? Javian Hawkins and Tutu Atwell. Hawkins had another 100-yard game (22 carries, 142 yards, TD), and Atwell tied the single season school record for receiving touchdowns (12).
Onto the bowl game.