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2023 Kentucky Football Foes: Louisville Cardinals

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

JJ Weaver and Octavious Oxendine Dylan Ballard - A 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 four matchups, UK has outscored the Cards 179-47 and kept the trophy since 2018.

Let’s dive into this final game of the year.

Kentucky at Louisville

  • Time/Date: TBD time on November 25th
  • Location: Cardinal Stadium
  • TV Channel: TBD
  • Early Odds: ESPN FPI gives the Cats a 55.6% chance of winning.

Heading into 2023, Louisville’s got a shiny, brand-new coach who was born in Louisville, played at Louisville, and is now coaching at Louisville after several quality seasons at Purdue.

If anyone’s going to get Louisville to at least eight-win seasons again, it’ll be this hometown hero, so this Governor’s Cup might be difficult to hang on to indefinitely like the Cats have been accustomed to doing. He’s already getting the recruiting going—Cards currently have a top-25 class for 2024.

Louisville’s got quite the schedule for 2023, so they might be kind of run down by the time they get to the Rivalry Week finale. They start the season in Atlanta against Georgia Tech in the Chick-fil-A kickoff, play seven other ACC games that include road trips to NC State and Miami (though no games against Clemson or Florida State), and only have one “cupcake” game in the nonconference all year—Murray State in Week 2.

The other three nonconference opponents are Indiana (Lucas Oil Stadium), Notre Dame (home), and obviously Kentucky.

Kentucky’s thoroughly dominated the Cards under Stoops, and playing in Cardinal Stadium hasn’t slowed them down a bit. The last time Louisville beat UK at home was in 2014 — nine very long years ago. In UK’s three wins there since, there’s only been one close game, which of course, was the famous 41-38 clutch field goal win after Lamar Jackson’s fumble late in the fourth quarter.

That 2014 loss was almost a Kentucky win as well. UK led by three late in the game until the Cards took the lead for good with 2:47 to go to win 44-40. That kept Mark Stoops from leading the Cats to a bowl game in just his second season after the program went 4-20 the previous two years.

Prediction: There’s no way I’m going to predict that UK is going to lose to Louisville when no matter how badly the Cats’ season is going or how dangerous the Cards are looking, the result is always the same — U of L is just no match for Stoops’s hard-nosed, grind-away-until-they-yield squads that they haven’t even scored more than 13 points in one game against since 2017.

Even if UK is 6-5 and Louisville is 9-2, you have to remember that.

Kentucky 30, Louisville 13