Here we are, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation — 13.5 point underdogs in our own house against our most detested rival. Sounds like a real fine day for an upset to me.
I haven't predicted an upset in this game, but the Big Blue heart in me keeps whispering that it is very possible. Louisville ought to be favored by at least 3 touchdowns given their lofty ranking and the low esteem in which Kentucky is held by most pundits, but Las Vegas is not drinking the red Kool Aid just yet.
Cardinal fans certainly have reason to be optimistic, but many of them are also cautious about this game. They know that they should be good enough to roll over the Wildcats in their home stadium, but they are justifiably wary of the fact that this is a rivalry game, and that this is no longer Joker Phillips' football team.
For Kentucky to win, they must:
Score a lot. Kentucky's defense has given us no reason to believe they can stop Louisville.
Stop hurting themselves. Penalties and critical special-teams errors have definitely hurt Kentucky in the first two games.
Get pressure on Teddy Bridgewater. I don't have any confidence in our secondary, but if we can force Bridgewater to move out of the pocket, we stand a better chance against them.
Play their best game of the season so far. Even the Miami (OH) effort wouldn't be enough against Louisville, because they are bigger, stronger, and faster than the RedHawks.
To win, Louisville must:
Avoid cockiness and/or tightness. Kentucky is capable of scoring enough points to be competitive if Louisville doesn't play well on defense.
Keep Kentucky out of Bridgewater's face. Bridgewater is absolutely deadly with time, and if Louisville gives him time, he'll pick Kentucky apart.
Establish a run game. Western Kentucky proved the value of a balanced attack against UK, and so far, the Cardinals have been too pass-heavy.
Relax, and play good football. Louisville is a better team than Kentucky on paper, and if they play well, they should be able to win.
Forget about the margin. Louisville would like to win this one big, but rivalry games have a way of getting competitive. They'd be wise just to get the win and be happy.
That's all I have. Let's play some football!