For football fans across the Commonwealth, there’s always a level of excitement when Kentucky and Louisville meet on the gridiron. This year’s matchup is no different. When the Cats and Cards get together Saturday, there’s going to be a lot of buzz around the Big Supermarket known as Kroger Field.
Let’s hit some of the questions, shall we?
- First off, who needs the win more, Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino or Kentucky head man Mark Stoops? I think that either coach needs a win Saturday. Petrino needs a win to help stabilize his program in the wake of a disappointing season that held so much potential for the Cards. In Stoops case, the Cats need a victory in the Governor’s Cup game to help take the bad taste out of the mouths of the Cat faithful from losing to Florida and Ole Miss. Plus a win for UK probably gets them into a higher tier of bowls.
- Is this the last regular season game for Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson? I think so. Jackson has had a stellar career at Louisville. It’s a given that his skill set would be very valuable to NFL teams (think Deshawn Watson.) Also, staying another year at Louisville could be under a new coach. So...next question.
- Is this the last regular season game for Petrino at Louisville? It absolutely could be. With SEC jobs open at Tennessee, Florida, and Arkansas and possible openings at Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Auburn (If Gus Malzahn leaves for Arkansas), Petrino could be a hot candidate for any of those jobs. And we all know Petrino doesn’t care to load up the U-Haul to move to another town to coach football. Plus, with the turmoil at UL stemming from men’s basketball that claimed the job of AD Tom Jurich, it gives Petrino ample reasoning to move on.
- If Kentucky wins Saturday, what becomes the legacy of Wildcats quarterback of Stephen Johnson? If the Cats defeat the Cards for the second year in a row with Johnson at the controls, his status in the annals of Wildcat lore goes legendary. Johnson not only came out of nowhere to not only lead the team but take the team to great success for the Cats in his two years at the helm. He already holds a special place in the hearts of BBN, a win Saturday only solidifies him as a Cat legend.
- How does a loss affect either program going into bowl season? A loss isn’t catastrophic for either program, but it could dampen the spirit of either fan base. Louisville was hoping for a big year with Jackson at the helm. Offensively, they’ve been fine. But defensively they’ve been atrocious. Now with the possibility of Petrino on the move, the Cards, the fan base has to be antsy. A win settles the nerves some. For Kentucky, a loss points again to what could have been for the Cats. Another close but no quite there game takes some of the wind out of the Big Blue sails. 8-4 sounds better than 7-5 too. It also changes the bowl outlook for the Cats.
Obviously there is a lot riding on this game for both programs. Both teams need a win. With that in mind, my fearless prediction is Cats 34-Cards 31 in a shootout.