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By Matt Overing | Football beat writer
Commonwealth Stadium will host its first ranked team of the 2013 season this Saturday when No. 7 Louisville comes to Lexington in the battle for the Governor’s Cup.
UK head coach Mark Stoops will be looking for his first win against a ranked opponent, one that happens to be UK’s in-state rival.
“It’s very important to myself, this team, our program, the fans and everybody,” Stoops said.
Louisville is led by junior quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The Cardinals offense is one that Stoops says is good all around.
“They’re good across the board,” Stoops said. “I think they do a nice job of keeping you off balance.”
Part of that balance is a passing game that averages 406.5 yards per game, good for fifth in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).
Through two games this year, Bridgewater has completed 46 of 60 passes for 752 yards and nine touchdowns.
Bridgewater’s two favorite targets are junior wide receiver DeVante Parker and senior wide receiver Damian Copeland. Both are tied for the team lead with nine receptions and have three touchdowns apiece.
Parker averaged 18.6 yards per catch last season, good for 15th-best in the FBS. He led Louisville with 744 yards and 10 touchdowns last season and finished the year with six straight games with a touchdown.
This season, he has racked up 207 yards in two games, averaging 23 yards per catch.
Copeland led the Cardinals with 50 receptions last year. He accumulated 628 yards and two touchdowns on the year.
Stoops was asked on Monday about his feelings toward UK’s secondary versus Copeland and Parker.
“It will be a tough matchup,” Stoops said. “They threaten you with their run game, and they love taking their shots and their play actions off it because they’re very skilled at wide receiver.”
Last season, Parker caught three passes for 57 yards against UK, while Copeland caught four passes for 51 yards in the Cardinals’ 32-14 victory over the Cats in Louisville.
Coach Stoops said that Louisville does a nice job at keeping defenses off balance.
“Anybody that can make you play with numbers, make you bring guys in the box, and they’re talented outside puts you in a problem,” Stoops said. “They do a nice job with that.”