Rivalry week. This is the most exciting week of the football season. The Kentucky Wildcats (6-5) make a visit to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium to take on the #11 Louisville Cardinals (9-2) in the battle for the Governor's Cup.
A look in the past -In last year's match-up Kentucky held a 24-7 halftime lead at Commonwealth Stadium. The final score ended up 38-24 in favor of the Cards. Lamar Jackson came in in the second half to pass for 130 yards, rush for 190 yards, and accumulate three total touchdowns.
-Bobby Petrino has never lost to Kentucky as a coach, and is 6-0 against the Wildcats with U of L.
-Louisville has won six straight against Kentucky.
-The series is tied 14-14.
What to watch for -Kentucky has relied heavily on their running game this season. Stanley "Boom" Williams and Benny Snell have broken 1,000 rushing yards and have six and 12 rushing touchdowns, respectively. UK will try to establish a running game and use passing as a second option.
-Lamar Jackson is in a large lead for the Heisman race. He has 1367 rushing yards, 3109 passing yards, and 47 total touchdowns. Jackson has high potential for a field day against the Kentucky defense.
-Neither team has had success holding onto the ball. Louisville has lost 20 fumbles and Kentucky has lost 14 fumbles. Turnovers can play a major role in rivalry games.
Position match-up Quarterback: Lamar Jackson vs Stephen Johnson There isn't much of an argument or debate here. Advantage: Jackson (Louisville)
Running Back: Brandon Radcliff vs Stanley Williams Williams has carried the UK offense all season long. Radcliff has been overshadowed by Jackson and sometimes even behind backup running back Jeremy Smith. Advantage: Williams (Kentucky)
Wide Receiver: James Quick and Co. vs Jeff Badet and Co. U of L has had an ample amount of receivers play big, but Quick is second in receptions and touchdowns and first in yards. He has had issues with dropping balls throughout his career. Badet is second in receptions, but first in yards and touchdowns. However, the Cats are not a big passing team this year. Advantage: Quick and Co. (Louisville)
Tight End: Cole Hikutini vs CJ Conrad Conrad has been essential to the Kentucky offense in the red zone, but is not a primary target. He plays more of a role in the run block. Hikutini leads the Cards in touchdowns and had a crucial fourth down reception against Virginia. He hasn't played a big role in the run block, but is a huge factor in the passing game. Hikutini has a strong case for the NFL draft. Advantage: Hikutini (Louisville)
Offensive Line: Louisville vs Kentucky The Louisville O-line has been beat up in big games against Clemson and Houston. They have allowed Lamar Jackson to get hit and sacked numerous times. The line has struggled with false starts and holds. Kentucky's O-line has been solid for running, but has struggled to be consistent in the passing game. They've faced tough defense such as Alabama, Florida, and Tennessee. Advantage: Kentucky
Defensive Line: Louisville vs Kentucky Kentucky does not have a great defense and has struggled against opposing team's front five. Their line has sacked opposing quarterbacks 26 times so far this season. Louisville has a veteran defensive line that has put pressure on opponent's running games all season and shut down Florida State's Dalvin Cook. The Cards have had trouble with the pass rush against better teams, but have managed to sack opposing quarterbacks 29 times. Advantage: Louisville
Linebackers: Louisville vs Kentucky Kentucky has had a good running back core to take on the run game, but have not had good match-ups against receivers and tight ends. Louisville linebackers haven't been all that great either, but Keith Kelsey has been a solid leader for the Louisville defense. Advantage: Louisville
Secondary: Louisville vs Kentucky UK has not done a good job protecting the pass this season. They've allowed 2,293 passing yards, but have recorded 10 interceptions this year. Opponents have 18 touchdown passes this season. Louisville's secondary has been led by Jaire Alexander and Josh Harvery-Clemons, but have given opposing quarterbacks opportunities for great games. The defense has allowed 2,123 passing yards and 24 touchdown passes, but have 13 interceptions on the year. From a turnover standpoint the Cards have a great secondary, but allow a lot of yards and touchdowns/ Advantage: Even
Kicking: Blanton Creque vs Austin MacGinnis Louisville has had plenty of issues with field goals and extra points this season. Coach Petrino seems to have settled on Blanton Creque though and Evan O'Hara's time as a kicker doesn't look hopeful. The Wildcats have a solid kicker in Austin MacGinnis and has been nearly perfect in field goals and extra points. Advantage: MacGinnis (Kentucky)
Coaching: Bobby Petrino vs Mark Stoops Petrino has never lost to Kentucky in his career, including a big comeback victory last season. With Petrino at the reins the Cards have become nationally recognized. Stoops was a big hopeful when he came to Kentucky from Florida State, but has under-performed in many fans' eyes. He is 17-28 in his time with the Wildcats and has not beaten Louisville. Advantage: Petrino (Louisville)
Prediction Numbers are heavily in favor of the Cardinals. Kentucky doesn't have much except for a running game. Their defense can't stop dual-threat quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson. If the Louisville defense can stop Williams and company then they've shut down the Wildcats' offense for the most part. If these game comes down to a kicking duel, UK could pull off the upset. Look for Jackson to go off and up his Heisman chances and the Louisville seniors will have one final statement. Louisville 42, Kentucky 13