Game Day Preview: What you need to know about Kentucky-Louisville
It all comes down to Saturday for the Wildcats. One more game, one final charge toward bowl eligibility with Louisville in town. The stage is set for a rivalry that has plenty at stake.
Here’s what else you need to know about Saturday’s game:
Kentucky (5-6, 2-6 SEC) vs. Louisville (6-5, 5-3 ACC)
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 28, noon ET (SEC Network)
Weather: 60 degrees, 90 percent chance of rain (Weather.com)
Line: Louisville -5, per Bovada
By the numbers
28- The Cardinals and Wildcats are meeting for the 28th time in series history. Kentucky has a slight edge in the overall series, leading 14-13. Louisville is looking to tie it and beat Kentucky for the fifth time in a row.
415- The Wildcats rushed for 415 yards last weekend against Charlotte, good for the fourth-best rushing performance in Kentucky history. It was the highest number of Kentucky yards on the ground since the Wildcats racked up 441 in 1974 against Virginia Tech.
19- Kentucky will honor 19 seniors on Saturday, the final home game of the year.
Storylines to watch
How will Drew Barker perform?
The redshirt freshman quarterback made his first career start last week against Charlotte, but it wasn’t the tallest of orders as Kentucky was the heavy favorite. This week should give a more accurate representation of how ready Barker is in his new role when a more competitive opponent in Louisville comes to town. Barker assumed the top spot on the depth chart after Kentucky fell to Vanderbilt two weeks ago. He has received coach Mark Stoops’ praise throughout the season, but this will be his first real challenge.
Can Kentucky contain its emotions?
Last year, before kick off at Louisville, these two teams got into it at midfield in a brief altercation. Even coaches were involved to a certain extent. In his press conference on Monday, Stoops said he has talked with his team about avoiding a similar altercation this year, and about how it must keep its emotions in check. Not only is this a rivalry game for the Wildcats, but bowl eligibility is also on the line. Composure is a key in this one.
Will the run game dominate again?
Last week against Charlotte, Boom Williams and Jojo Kemp both had the best games of their respective careers. Williams had two rushing touchdowns and 140 yards on 16 carries. Kemp had 165 yards on the ground and three touchdowns. It wasn’t long ago that Stoops said he wanted to use Kemp more in situations when Kentucky is near the goal line and pushing for a score. This week’s depth chart lists Williams or Kemp as the top running back. If the two of them can be as strong of a tandem as they were last week, Barker and Kentucky could have a major offensive advantage.
What would a win mean for the program?
It’s been five years since Kentucky has appeared in a bowl game. In his first season with Kentucky, Stoops coached a 2-10 Wildcats team. A bowl appearance would prove that Stoops could be on the right track in terms of turning this Kentucky program around, and it would also give the Wildcats a leg up in recruiting. The lows this season have certainly been basement-like for the Wildcats, but a bowl game would negate the struggles to a certain extent.
Prediction: Kentucky 35, Louisville 31
Last year, Louisville won this game, 44-40. This year, the Wildcats are playing at home, it’s Senior Day, it’s a rivalry and their season is on the line. Barker will rise to the occasion and lead Kentucky to a victory this time.