This is the first open game thread of the college football season for A Sea of Blue readers, and today it is the Kentucky Wildcats at the Louisville Cardinals in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in Louisville for the Governor's Cup trophy. Game particulars as follows, courtesy of UKAthletics.com:
|Kentucky at Louisville|
|Sun., Sept. 2 - 3:30 p.m. ET
Papa John's Cardinal Stadium
Game Notes: UK | UL
Radio: UK IMG
Live Video via WatchESPN
Kentucky coach Joker Phillips has had an air of quiet confidence about him all this pre-season, and in just a few minutes, we'll begin to see if this confidence is justified, or just a really good poker face? Meanwhile, his opponent, Charlie Strong, has been heard to ask his team to deliver a beating to the Wildcats in order to justify their top 25 ranking, and the question facing the Louisville team is whether or not this kind of talk enhances the possibility that they might just be overconfident coming into this game.
Since all the Kentucky practices have been closed to outsiders, we actually know very little about how this Wildcat team is likely to perform. That can be both good and bad -- if Kentucky comes out very flat, it will encourage a lot of fans to give up hope early. If they come out strong, it could rally the fan base and produce some consternation among Louisville partisans.
Both the national media and most non-Kentucky blogs who offer an opinion on the matter believe Louisville will win a convincing victory today, and certainly that is possible. They have a more experienced defense and a dangerous dual-threat quarterback of they type that always seems to give UK problems.
But Kentucky has some weapons of its own in CoShik Williams and La'Rod King, it's just that so much of Kentucky's talent is unproven on the field, filling either minor supporting roles in previous campaigns or seeing the gridiron for the first time in a Wildcats uniform. Louisville also has its share of young players, and this game could well morph into one of those "who makes the least mistakes" affairs when it comes to penalties and special teams.
Even though it's good to get back into college sports after a long, quiet summer, plunging headlong into the deep end of the pool against your biggest rival on the road is a tough way to start and always-difficult season that includes playing multiple highly-ranked SEC foes. Be that as it may, here we are.
Keys to the game for Kentucky:
- Offensive line: UK must be able to move the football, and if they do, the line will be why;
- Defensive line: Kentucky must contain Teddy Bridgewater both on the ground, and through the air;
- Defensive secondary: UK is thin and young in the secondary, and it is here where the game could be won or lost.
Keys to the game for Louisville:
- All Bridgewater, all the time: If the Cardinals get a big game from him without the interception problems of last year, this could get ugly fast;
- Offensive line: The Cardinals have an experienced offensive line, but it is still young;
- Linebacking corps: Louisville lost their best player from among the linebackers last year, just as Kentucky did. How they perform against Kentucky's deep and talented running backs will be important.
That's it, it's time for college football in the Bluegrass. Go,'Cats!