Last Time: Down 21-0, Bobby Petrino replaced Kyle Bolin with Lamar Jackson, and the Cardinals completed the largest comeback victory in the rivalry’s history. Louisville scored 31 unanswered points in the second half, en route to a 38-24 win in Lexington. Jackson ran for a then-school record 186 yards as a quarterback with two rushing touchdowns, and added a passing touchdown to James Quick. Louisville held Kentucky’s passing game down, keeping starting quarterback Drew Barker at 6-for-22 for 128 yards.
The Cards and the Cats are currently tied 14-14 all-time, but Louisville has won the last five games.
About the Kentucky Wildcats
The Kentucky Wildcats enter this week’s game at 6-5, finally bowl eligible for the first time in the Mark Stoops era. It was noted that the last two seasons, Louisville ended Kentucky’s bowl aspirations each time, but now it will be interesting to see where Stoops’ team will be mentally, after achieving bowl eligibility against Austin Peay last week.
It didn’t start out that way, though. After two crushing losses to Southern Miss and Florida, Stoops turned to JUCO transfer Stephen Johnson as the new quarterback, who has since given the Kentucky offense a new wrinkle that has kept them alive. The offense doesn’t go into a pass-first mode anymore; they now run the ball with an impressive stable of running backs, and then parlay that into deep shots down the field with guys like Jeff Badet. It’s a simple formula, but it’s given Kentucky its best offense in the Stoops era and why they’re bowl eligible.
On defense, Mark Stoops was known as a great mind at Florida State, but Kentucky’s has not been as impressive in 2016. They have a solid linebacker group and a decent duo at cornerback, but the rest leave a lot to be desired going against better, faster athletes in space. But a good running game will grind the clock and keeps opposing offenses – and respectively, Kentucky’s maligned defense – off the field; it’s why the Dallas Cowboys have been so successful in the NFL, and why Kentucky can realistically compete against Louisville tomorrow.
Here are some interesting stats comparing UL and UK football from CFBStats.com. These stats are also filtered to get averages against POWER 5 teams only. This takes away Louisville’s game against Samford and Kentucky’s game against Charlotte. Stats in those games can be very misleading.
18 UL 325.2 ypg
50 UK 395.8 ypg
60 UL 381 ypg
75 UK 351 ypg
The common response when you tell a UK fan about these stats and how we are better is something about SOS or asking who we have played. Well……
Tis the season, my friends and foes. Giving thanks, sure. But giving grief, absolutely.
The week fans have had circled, underlined, and plenty of exclamation points leading up to opening weekend, because duh… It’s the most locally anticipated game of the season.
For one, the rivalry.
For two… Bowl eligibility.
The Governor’s Cup Luncheon was held in Frankfort on Wednesday, almost 6 months before the actual football game between the Cards and Cats, but that’s another story. Steve Jones of the Courier-Journal posted a transcript of everything that Bobby Petrino had to say, and you can see most of that here.
It’s a pleasure to be here today. I want to thank Kroger for the sponsorship of the great event today (golf outing for charity) and the event we had last night (cocktail party in Frankfort). Also I’d like to congratulate all of the honorees (Jeff Brohm, Tom Andrews, Gary Barnes among former U of L players and Mark Higgs, Jerry Blanton and Mike Cassity among UK guys). It’s kind of special for me to be here today and see Jeff (be honored). I had the pleasure of getting to know Jeff when he was injured in the training room when I was an assistant coach at the University of Louisville. Then when I got the job, he was one of the first phone calls I made when we were looking at putting a staff together. He’s also an excellent coach and always done a great job. He did a great job at Western Kentucky last year, and we wish him all the best. It’s good to see Coach Cassity (be honored). Since I’ve known Coach Cassity, he’s gotten better and better each year that he’s been done playing. If you don’t believe me, just ask him. (laughter.) We also got to spend time working together at two different programs (U of L and WKU). It’s kind of a special day for me today to see the two of them (honored).
In today’s comedic relief, UK Offensive Coordinator Neal Brown had some words for the Cards:
When you take a break from the constant laughter that I’m sure broke out when you seen this, think about that phrase: “The Show”. Last year “The Show”, as our friend from thecrunchzone.com Mark Blankenbaker points out, beat 2 teams that had a combined ZERO FBS wins.
That about sums up my prediction for how the kitty cats will feel on Saturday afternoon. So you can take that and move on, or read on if you care to. Sometimes with this blog, I just report the facts and keep everything professional. This time? Not so much. I am going into 100% fan-mode here, because that is what I am first and foremost.