Put the women and children to bed; it's rivalry week. The 7th ranked Louisville Cardinals will bring their high powered offense into Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday to take on another high powered offense. Neal Brown's Air Raid was on full display last Saturday as the ‘Cats put up over 600 yards on the Miami (OH) RedHawks. But the Cards aren't a bottom of the barrel team from the MAC. They are Sugar Bowl champions with a Heisman hopeful at Quarterback.
But strange things have happened in the past when it comes to this game. In 1997 the Cards came to Lexington after winning two straight with a supposedly superior team. Tim Couch led Kentucky to a 38-24 upset. In 2002 the ‘Cats traveled to Louisville to take on the 17th ranked Cardinals and Heisman hopeful Dave Ragone on his bobble-head day. Kentucky walked out of the pizza box with a 22-17 victory. And in 2007, the 9th ranked Cardinals waltzed into Lexington with a team that returned a majority of starters from an Orange Bowl team. Stevie got loose and Kentucky won 40-34 and started a four game winning streak against their hated rivals.
Will history repeat itself or will the Cardinals prove the experts correct by trouncing the Wildcats?
Saturday, September 14th: #9 Louisville Cardinals (2-0, 0-0) at Kentucky Wildcats (1-1, 0-0)- 12:00 PM on ESPN
The Wildcats improved in almost every category on offense and defense after blowing out Miami (OH) 41-7. After a fast start in the first half, the Wildcats slowed down in the second half due to some untimely penalties and possibly the oppressive heat. Maxwell Smith looked like the player that needs to be at the helm if the Wildcats intend on making the Air Raid a success. But don't count out Jalen Whitlow. He was utilized as a Randall Cobb type player; the big difference between the two is that Whitlow is a much better passer. This allows for a bigger playbook and more confusion on the part of the defense.
The dual QB system coupled with young up and coming playmakers on offense might be enough to put big points up against Louisville.
Teddy Bridgewater is a legitimate Heisman candidate. He is leading the 16th ranked scoring offense and the 5th ranked passing attack. Kentucky actually has a better rushing game with 239 yards per game compared to Louisville's 138.5 yards per game. The offensive line and the running game have been mediocre against sub-par competition. It's been the Teddy Show for Louisville thus far, and I doubt much will change against Kentucky.
The Wildcat woes in the secondary are well known, but Kentucky gets cornerback Cody Quinn back in the lineup which helps their depth. If the defensive line and the nation's sack leader Za'Darius Smith can put pressure on Bridgewater, then that will make the Cardinals prove that they can run the ball with Dominique Brown, Sinorise Perry and newcomer Michael Dyer; something they haven't been able to do or haven't had to do, depending on how you look at it.
In reality, the best we Kentucky fans can hope for is to give the Cardinals a heart attack and severely damage their image in the eyes of the voters and throw a kink into the computer rankings.
But there may be the chance that it's déjà vu all over again and the Wildcats will upset another ranked and hyped up Louisville team.
I'm going to be realistic with the hope of a big scare:
Louisville Cardinals 40-Kentucky Wildcats 32
I've never wanted to be so wrong in my entire life.
SEC Game of the Week: Saturday, September 14th: #1 Alabama Crimson Tide (1-0, 0-0) at #6 Texas A&M Aggies- 3:30 PM on CBS
Last season Johnny Manziel went into Tuscaloosa and almost single-handedly upset the #1 Tide. Johnny Football passed for 267 yards, two touchdown passes and rushed for 92 more yards. He won the Heisman and then destroyed the Oklahoma in the AT&T Cotton Bowl. And then the offseason controversies started. Johnny Football partied. He postured. He posed for pictures in casinos, bars and frat parties. And he also signed thousands of autographs for money. Allegedly.
His offseason antics didn't affect his game as he has thrown for six touchdowns in two games. He has been electric in his play and in his taunting. But the Aggies aren't a one man band. Teams are scoring an average of 29.5 points per game. And the competition hasn't been stellar. Rice put up 31 on them in game one and Sam Houston State scored 28 points on them in game two. They have major questions on defense.
The Tide have only played in one game but they drubbed Virginia Tech 35-10. The Hokies aren't the same team they were five years ago but they were supposed to be improved and they are still a team from a major BCS conference.
AJ McCarron is one of the most consistent game managers in college football and he has one of the better running backs in the SEC carrying the rock for him. The ‘Bama defense is still a scary unit. They will have their hands full with Manziel, but so far the Aggies seem to be one dimensional.
The lack of defense and the possibility of Johnny Football losing his cool leads me to think that the Tide will have their revenge in College Station.
Alabama Crimson Tide 42-Texas A&M Aggies 27
SEC vs. PAC 12 is always interesting, especially if Oregon wants to be in the conversation as one of the best teams in the country.
The Vols have a new coach with Butch Jones and things are going swimmingly thus far. Tennessee has steamrolled their first two opponents with a combined score of 97-20. They are a force on the ground averaging 277.5 rushing yards a game with a two-headed monster tandem of Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane. They have 7 combined touchdowns.
Quarterback Justin Worley hasn't set the world on fire but he has been the picture of efficiency going 22-32 for 246 yards and four touchdowns in two games.
The Oregon Ducks also have a new coach but so far they haven't missed a beat. They average 62.5 points a game as well as rushing for 425 yards a game. The high octane of Chip Kelly is alive and well. De'Anthony Thomas and quarterback are wreaking havoc on defenses with 11 combined touchdowns and 920 all-purpose yards. They went on the road last week and laid waste to ACC foe Virginia 59-10.
Their defense has been the surprise. The unit is allowing 6.5 points per game and as just as athletic and explosive as the vaunted offense.
This is going to be too much for the Volunteers to handle on the road. If it wasn't for WKU turning the ball over five times in six plays, then the game against the Hilltoppers would have been much more interesting. Despite the disaster the ‘Tops were still able to put up 20 points on the road. Imagine what the Ducks are going to do.
Oregon Ducks 45-Tennessee Volunteers 17
Last Week: I went 2-1 last week, correctly picking Kentucky and Georgia to win, but whiffing on Notre Dame vs. Michigan. That brings my season total to 3-3. Onward to victory.