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5 players to watch as Kentucky takes on Louisville

Keep an eye on these four Wildcats and one Cardinal.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Kentucky Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

With the Kentucky Wildcats and Louisville Cardinals set to clash in the Governor’s Cup, here are five players to watch in this week’s regular-season finale.

#1. Ray Davis

Davis’ usage in last week’s South Carolina game was a point of contention for a lot of fans. He ran the ball only 12 times for 61 yards, including an impressive 31-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that put the Wildcats on top for the first time in the game.

After a great start to the season, Davis hasn’t been quite the same player in the back half of the season. There are probably a plethora of reasons for that, but Davis figures to play a key role on Saturday if the Cats want to pull the upset.

Over the last four years, Kentucky has been able to rely on the running game against Louisville, winning at the line of scrimmage and controlling the clock while consistently putting up yards on the ground.

Louisville has been really good against the run this season, with opponents only averaging 98 rushing yards per game. Last week, Miami was able to establish the run game, rushing for 159 yards, including 6.1 yards per carry, but just fell short against the Cardinals.

If Kentucky is going to win, they’ll need to establish the run game early with Davis.

NCAA Football: Ball State at Kentucky Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

#2. Dane Key

While establishing the run game will be important, it will be * key * for the Wildcats to take advantage of opportunities in the passing game.

Dane Key has been one of the go-to guys for Devin Leary over the last few weeks, and Kentucky will need him to have a big game on Saturday.

The last two weeks, the Louisville secondary has struggled to contain Virginia’s Malik Washington (9 catches, 155 yards, 1 TD) and Miami’s Xavier Restrepo (8 catches, 193 yards, 1 TD).

To me, that shows there is an opportunity for Dane Key to make some plays on Saturday against this Louisville secondary. If Leary can get into a rhythm with Key early, he could have a big game.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 18 Kentucky at South Carolina Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

#3. Deone Walker

Walker just continues to be a force on the defensive side.

The big defensive lineman picked up another sack at South Carolina last week, now sitting at 5.5 on the season. He also tied with D’Eryk Jackson to lead the team with nine total tackles in the game, including eight solo tackles.

Walker will be crucial for Kentucky on Saturday in trying to clog up running lanes against a Cardinals offense that averages about 185 rushing yards per game while also putting pressure on QB Jack Plummer.

Plummer has been solid for the Cardinals this season, but he’s been prone to turnovers when under pressure. If the Kentucky defense can force Plummer into a couple of big mistakes, it would be huge for Kentucky to pull off the upset.

NCAA Football: Kentucky at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

#4. Andru Phillips

Phillips didn’t have his best outing last week against the Gamecocks. He was matched up with South Carolina’s Xavier Legette a lot Saturday night, with Legette often getting the better of that matchup.

Louisville has some playmakers at wide receiver, led by Georgia State transfer Jamari Thrash, who leads the team with 741 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

But last week, it was Kevin Coleman and Chris Bell leading the Cardinals receiver group, and Ahmari Huggins-Bruce has big-play ability.

The Cards will look for some big plays through the air, and Phillips will need to be ready to step up.

NCAA Football: Louisville at Miami Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

#5. Joey Gatewood

Yes, that Joey Gatewood.

We wrap up this list with the former Auburn Tiger/Kentucky Wildcat/Central Florida Knight quarterback/wide receiver is now a tight end for the Louisville Cardinals.

At his fourth school, playing his third different position, the Cats will get to see a familiar face.

Gatewood is coming off his best outing of the season against Miami, where he caught three passes for 51 yards.

Until last week, Gatewood had a limited role in the Louisville passing attack, but maybe last week he proved he can be a reliable option.

The Kentucky defense will need to make sure Gatewood is a non-factor on Saturday.