Welcome to the A Sea of Blue live game thread for the Kentucky Wildcats at the Louisville Cardinals. Not only is this the last game of the season, but it’s against our biggest and most detested rival. This is exactly when a rivalry game should be played, and having a bowl season on the line just makes it that much more meaningful.
This is going to be a difficult game for Kentucky, another in a seemingly unending series of difficult games. Not only is it on the road, but it is on the road against a rival with something to prove in a new conference, and with a coach that has absolutely owned Kentucky every time he has faced us.
Essentials for victory
Don’t give away the game on special teams — This doesn’t seem like too much to ask, but if you have watched Kentucky’s special teams lately, you know otherwise.
Win the turnover battle — The Cardinals are better at taking the ball away than Kentucky is. If UK wins this battle tomorrow, I like our chances.
Find a way to run the ball — Louisville is the best rushing defense in the ACC, and the third best in the land. That means they are better than Florida, and LSU, and all those other teams that shut us down in the run game. Just sayin’.
Score — Kentucky must score, and they must score at least 30 points to have any chance at all to win this game. UK’s defense just isn’t good enough to hold Louisville, who has only a slightly above-average offense, to 21 points or less.
Throw the ball — If Kentucky is going to run, they must first make Louisville pay for stacking the box. It’s really that simple. Louisville’s pass defense is good enough that they will force Kentucky to move the ball through the air against a cover zero.
Stand up to the Louisville run game — Louisville has quality backs in Dominque Brown an Michael Dyer. UK must find a way to limit them on standard downs.
Manage DeVante Parker — I don’t think Kentucky is good enough to stop Parker; they need to manage him. Mix up coverages to always have help in the neighborhood, and make sure that the cornerbacks give him room, but not the whole house. We want to pick and choose where we take chances against him wisely.
Look, I’d love to blow sunshine up your collective backsides and tell you this is a winnable game, but based on season performance, Louisville deserves to be a heavy favorite at home. Two things make an upset slightly better than a long-shot possibility — Patrick Towles arm and feet, and the skill players Kentucky can bring to bear.
To win, the Wildcats are going to have to bring their best — and I mean their Florida and South Carolina best. Anything less will be a lopsided Louisville victory and no mistake.