When the University of Kentucky football team makes the short drive to Louisville today, it will be confronted with by a Cardinal opponent making the strides the Wildcats hope to see in themselves one day. Coming off a huge road win against one of college football’s most storied programs, No. 22 Louisville is aiming to keep hopes alive for its third straight ten win season, as well as its shot at the Orange Bowl; Kentucky needs a win to become bowl eligible
Kentucky will roll into Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium with a five game losing-streak on their tails, after a 5-1 start. Cats coach Mark Stoops has managed to pick up a few more wins in his second season, but it will take time to build his Wildcat football program. While Stoops does have several highly rated recruits coming, this year’s team has failed to compete in the rugged SEC. The Wildcats have been especially torched recently, giving up 113 total points their past two games. And yet, this season could go down as a huge success, while also providing a springboard for the future–but only if the Wildcats can take down their biggest rival.
Louisville (8-3) comes into this game looking to follow up on one of the biggest wins in school history, a 31-28 triumph over Notre Dame in South Bend. Louisville is peaking at the right time, with true freshman quarterback Reggie Bonnafon looking more comfortable in Bobby Petrino’s offense each week. Wide receiver DeVante Parker’s return from injury has given the Cardinals’ passing game an added boost. The senior is projected by many NFL Draft experts to go in the first round of next year’s draft.
Louisville’s defense will try to continue its solid play throughout the season against a Wildcats offense that has athletes, but hasn’t been able to perform against top competition. The Cardinals are led by Gerod Holliman, who is one interception away from tying the NCAA single-season record of 14, and Lorenzo Mauldin, a pass-rushing terror who commands the full attention of the defense. Louisville is ranked near the top of the country in multiple defensive categories, including total defense, scoring defense, and turnovers forced.
The biggest star on the UK roster is defensive end Bud Dupree, who is projected as a high round draft pick.
Louisville currently has a three game winning-streak in the rivalry.
*Section Photo credit to Andy Lyons, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Mike DiNovo, USA Today Sports