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Early Kentucky football preview: Louisville

The Governor’s Cup hasn’t left Lexington in a while.

Will Levis Drew Brown - Sea of Blue

Greetings, BBN!

We’re almost at the start of the new season and have now reached the last of our early opponent previews. This time, we look at Week 13 and the season finale with the Louisville Cardinals in the annual battle for the Governor’s Cup.

Though it hasn’t been much of a battle, lately—more like a yearly pounding of the Redbirds regardless of location. In the last three matchups UK has outscored the Cards 153-34 and has obviously kept the trophy since 2018. Let’s dive into this final game of the year:

Louisville Cardinals

  • When: November 25th, 2022
  • Where: Kroger Field
  • Active Streak: Kentucky has won the last three in a row (woohoo!)
  • Active Stadium Streak: Louisville hasn’t won in Lexington since 2017 when they had Lamar Jackson

Of all the team’s on Kentucky’s schedule, Louisville is definitely one of the bigger wild cards. Head coach Scott Satterfield is firmly on the hot seat, and it’s not out of the question he could be let go by the time his Cards head to Lexington if the losses pile up.

However, Louisville has a favorable schedule that could have them at seven or even eight wins when they invade Kroger Field. ESPN FPI projects the Cars to be favorites in all but three games; vs. Pittsburgh, at Clemson and at Kentucky.

It certainly helps that the Cards have one of college football’s best dual-threat quarterbacks in Malik Cunningham, who passed for 2,941 yards and ran for 1,031 more last season.

However, Louisville lost four of its top five pass-catchers from a season ago, and we saw how mightily they struggled against Kentucky’s defense.

For the Wildcats, ending the year with three-straight home games is awesome, especially if you can cap it off with a Rivalry Week win like this would be. Kentucky has clearly taken control of the rivalry the past several seasons—one of the most awesome ways Mark Stoops has changed the culture.

Now, people don’t look at the state and think that Louisville is the football school anymore, and more importantly neither do the recruits. There’s really no reason to believe that Louisville will be better this year than any of the past several subpar seasons, so I don’t see any reason for them to be favored to win this.

That being said, Kentucky is set up to have a so-so performance with the Georgia showdown coming the week before. Teams who play Georgia tend to have letdown games the following week(s). We saw this last year when the Wildcats dropped consecutive games to Mississippi State and Tennessee teams that they absolutely should have beaten.

The Cats will have a lot to lose in this one and need to play ready to buckle down and get that win no matter what it takes because Louisville would absolutely love to throw a wrench in the season in the final week. This won’t be an easy one.

Prediction: L’s down—Kentucky wins 38-24