September 13th, 2013

U of L and UK to battle for the Governor's Cup

Staff Report

U of L and UK to battle for the Governor's Cup
Charlie Strong (right) and Mark Stoops (left) with the Governor's Cup / photo from

Two of the Louisville Catholic Sports Network writers give their analysis of what they think will happen in Saturday's Governor’s Cup. Paul Najjar gives his thoughts on why U of L will blow out UK, while Conor Revell gives his thoughts on whether it’s even possible for the Cats to beat U of L.

U of L should take down UK with ease – By: Paul Najjar – Senior Writer

With all of their offensive firepower the Louisville Cardinals should score at will on Kentucky in the Governor’s Cup game at Commonwealth Stadium Saturday afternoon.

And there’s no, “Not so fast, my friend,” caveat here.

Holding decisive advantages in skill position talent, in particular with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and his stable of thoroughbred receivers, the Cards will score early and often. Expect running backs Senorise Perry, Michael Dyer and Dominique Brown to run rampant over the generous UK run defense. And even if they don’t outrush Kentucky — the winner of the last 17 games led in total rushing yards — the Cards won’t have a problem winning this game.

The defense, led by middle linebacker Preston Brown and safeties Calvin Pryor and Hakeem Smith, should contain the running game, but the Cats will try to get the most out of their slightly-up-tempo passing game with Maxwell Smith. I expect Jalen Whitlow to get at least 10 touches in the game, with several gadget plays being part of the Cats' scheme to make Whitlow as effective as possible.

But, no amount of gadget plays will afford the Cats a touch of the Governor’s Cup. Cards are too good this year.

Score prediction: Louisville 45, Kentucky 17

Kentucky needs a miracle to win the Governor’s Cup – By: Conor Revell – Staff Writer

It’s going to take a miracle for Kentucky’s football team to beat Louisville.

However, strange things have happened in the Governor’s Cup rivalry, including miracles.

A Kentucky win would probably be the greatest upset in Governor’s Cup history.

In 2007 Stevie Johnson caught a 57-yard bomb from Andre' Woodson with less than a minute to play to give the unranked Wildcats a 40-34 upset victory over the No. 9 Cardinals.

In 2002 U of L was ranked No. 17 and had Heisman hopeful Dave Ragone at quarterback. Ragone got sacked three times and completed only 14 of 39 passes as UK pulled out a miraculous 22-17 win less than a year after the Hal Mumme scandal.

I’m not saying that UK is going to upset U of L, but it’s possible. It would wipe away the memories of a woeful loss to Western Kentucky a few weeks ago -- and it would give Mark Stoops that coveted first-year signature win.

For Stoops and Kentucky to pull off the upset – a lot of things are going to have to go their way.

Stoops’ defense is going to have to stop U of L’s Heisman hopeful Teddy Bridgewater, something Ohio and Eastern Kentucky were unable to do. The junior quarterback has thrown for 752 yards, nine touchdowns, with only one interception this year.

Kentucky’s defense is going to have to stop running backs Senorise Perry and Michael Dyer. The two lead a U of L rushing offense that is averaging 138.5 yards a game.

Interestingly enough, UK’s rushing offense is averaging 239 yards a game, nearly 100 more than U of 's.

Maybe that gives UK a glimmer of hope – the winner of the last 17 Governor’s Cups has rushed for more yards.

Raymond Sanders (137 yards, one touchdown) and Jalen Whitlow (123 yards, one touchdown) would both be the leading rushers on U of L’s team.

Stoops will need to run the ball all day long in order to keep the ball away from U of L’s offense. That’s because the Wildcats' run defense has struggled and is allowing opponents to rush for 157.5 yards a game.

If UK can win the possession battle and keep the ball out of Teddy Heisman’s hands – I don’t see why UK can’t keep it close.

Now if UK wins the possession battle and that’s because U of L is airing every ball to the end zone, then that may be problematic.  

Speaking of the air raid – will it come to life for UK Saturday? It will if Maxwell Smith is the main quarterback rather than Whitlow. Smith has completed 63.9 percent of his passes for 435 yards and four touchdowns.

I have nothing against Whitlow – but he doesn’t mix with the air raid offense – Whitlow should be used for special formation plays like the Pistol and the Wildcat. His trickery could catch the U of L defense off-guard and give UK some momentum when it needs it most.

Plus Smith seems to have a good relationship with receivers Javess Blue, Ryan Timmons and Anthony Kendricks. With Blue's and Timmons' speed, perhaps there is another chance for a “Stevie gets loose moment.”

But at the end of the day, U of L is the better team, and should win this game. Yet in sports you can never say never. I predict that UK will stay close for at least the first half, maybe even the third quarter, but Teddy’s leadership qualities will kick in and the Cats fall.

Score prediction: U of L 38, Kentucky 21 – The Cardinals score the final 17 points of the game.


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