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Kentucky at Louisville: Analysis, expert picks and predictions

Breakdowns, betting trends, what to expect, and predictions for the Governor’s Cup.

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Louisville
Nov 26, 2016; Louisville, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats running back Benny Snell Jr. (26) drops the ball in the end zone after scoring a touchdown against the Louisville Cardinals during the second quarter at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Kentucky defeated Louisville 41-38. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

As another year has passes, there will be another Governor’s Cup to be played for between the Kentucky Wildcats and Louisville Cardinals. With kick-off unusually set for 7 P.M. EDT on Saturday, the game brings more than just a battle of pride for the Wildcats. A win would rightfully send off many starting seniors as well as solidify Kentucky’s place for a top-tier bowl game on New Years.

Analysis

Kentucky opened and remains the heavy-favorite in Saturday’s game, but that comes as an anomaly as Louisville has won six of the seven most recent meetings. Kentucky’s lone win came in 2016 as the Wildcats pulled off the upset as 28-point underdogs.

Kentucky enters their season finale with a 8-3 record, as a potential ninth win on the season besting any regular season since 1977. Louisville, on the other hand, is ready to put 2018 and a 2-9 record behind them.

However, while both teams are on opposite sides of the spectrum, expect Saturday’s game to be played with passion and a sense of pride. Rivalry games bring out the best in teams and Saturday’s outing shouldn’t be any different.

The Kentucky defense is led by senior pass rusher Josh Allen, who has set a single-season record with 13.0 sacks to go along with 17.5 TFL this season. Allen is the best player on a unit stacked with seniors, including linebacker Jordan Jones, safeties Mike Edwards and Darius West, cornerbacks Derrick Baity Jr., Chris Westry and Lonnie Johnson Jr. and defensive lineman Adrian Middleton.

This group of seniors has just one win over Louisville in their careers, and they were embarrassed by the Cardinals last year. Expect them to bring their A games to Cardinal Stadium on Saturday.

Betting Trends

Kentucky opened as a monster favorite, but that’s been a bad thing for the 2018 Wildcats, who are 0-5 against the spread when favored this season. The good news is they do sport a 4-1 mark when favored, so while they should win Saturday, expecting them to cover the three-score spread is a dangerous game to play.

  • Here are some more betting trends for both teams:
  • Kentucky is 1-5 ATS in its last 6 games
  • Kentucky is 8-3 SU in its last 11 games
  • The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Kentucky’s last 8 games
  • Kentucky is 8-17 SU in its last 25 games on the road
  • The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Kentucky’s last 5 games on the road
  • Louisville is 0-5 ATS in its last 5 games
  • Louisville is 0-5 SU in its last 5 games
  • The total has gone OVER in 6 of Louisville’s last 7 games
  • Louisville is 1-5 ATS in its last 6 games at home
  • Louisville is 16-8 SU in its last 24 games at home
  • Louisville is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games at home
  • Kentucky is 2-5 ATS in its last 7 games when playing Louisville
  • Kentucky is 1-6 SU in its last 7 games when playing Louisville
  • The total has gone OVER in 4 of Kentucky’s last 6 games when playing Louisville
  • Kentucky is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games when playing on the road against Louisville
  • The total has gone OVER in 4 of Kentucky’s last 6 games when playing on the road against Louisville

Expert Picks

OddsShark predicts Kentucky to win by a final score of 39.3-7.3, of which would allow the Wildcats to cover the 17-point spread and send the game total of 52.5 under.

CBS Sports experts Barrett Sallee, Barton Simmons, Dennis Dodd, Jerry Palm and Tom Fornelli expect Kentucky cover the spread, while Ben Kercheval and Chip Patterson are predicting the game to be closer than 17 points.

All seven, though, predict a Kentucky win.

USA Today predictors Dan Wolken, Eddie Timanus, Erick Smith, George Schroder, Jace Evans and Paul Myerberg all expect Kentucky to win straight-up.

TeamRankings is going with a 34-17 Kentucky win, while numberFire projects a final score of 38-13 in favor of the road team.

Prediction

With 207 yards standing between Benny Snell and Kentucky’s all-time rushing record, expect the junior running back to receive a heavy workload against a Cardinals’ defense that has been gashed throughout the season.

As his confidence has grown by the game, don’t be surprised to see a slow start from Terry Wilson in what will be his first Governor’s Cup experience.

After giving up a whopping 392 yards to Middle Tennessee last Saturday, Kentucky’s veteran defense should come out with a purpose against the Cardinals. After all, most of a senior-rich defense will face Louisville for the fourth and final time in their careers.

The game could be close and competitive early, but the first 11 games of the regular season show Kentucky is more talented, well-coached and soundly balanced than Louisville in all three phases of the game.

After halftime, expect the Wildcats to pull away and firmly defeat the Cardinals.

Final Score: Kentucky 30, Louisville 13