Kentucky football to face Louisville in Governor’s Cup


Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Terry Wilson (3) walking off of the field after UK’s win. University of Kentucky football defeated Middle Tennessee State University 34-23 at Kroger Field on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018 in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Madison Dennis

The Kentucky Wildcats are set to face the Louisville Cardinals on Saturday in Cardinal Stadium for the Governor’s Cup.  The rivals are tied 15-15 in the series and each team is hoping to close out their season 2018 regular season with a win—but for the Cats, a win would give them their most in a season in 41 years.

The Cardinals have lost 8 straight games this season and are coming off a 52-10 loss against NC State. Louisville has had some personnel changes and is now coached by interim head coach Lorenzo Ward since the firing of Bobby Petrino and several assistants.

Offensively, the Cardinals rushed for a season high of 254 yards last game against NC state—which was also the most yards rushed since their win over Kentucky last year (346 yards). To shut down the Cardinals offense, Kentucky’s defense will need to stop threats from season-long starting quarterback Jawon Pass, who has tallied 1,960 passing yards, and back-up quarterback Malik Cunningham who leads the team in rushing with 408 yards.

Freshman wide receiver Tutu Atell has set the record of 132 yards for most receiving yards in a game by a true freshman. Leaving his mark, receiver Jeremy Smith has caught 150 passes for 2,474 yards and 15 touchdowns in his career. He leads the team currently with 34 receptions for 519 yards.

Kentucky’s run game should fare well against one of the worst rush defenses in the country in Louisville—the Cardinals’ defense has struggled to find success this season having given up more than 50 points in six games.  Louisville is led defensively by redshirt sophomore defensive end Tabarius Smith with 48 tackles this season. Senior safety Dee Smith totals a career 102 tackles and two interceptions and leads the team this season with 65 stops. Sophomore linebacker Dorian Etheridge is second on the team with 53 tackles.

“We’re worried about ourselves and playing the best football we can. Just finishing — like I said, I felt like our team played with a sense of urgency this past week that we’re striving for,” Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops said. “I really liked the way we got out of the gates and started fast and really played with a great sense of urgency. We’re looking to do the same thing here this week. It’s about us and the way we play. We know what they’re capable of and how Louisville can play. They’ve shown signs of that this year.”

The Cats and Cards clash for bragging rights in the Commonwealth at 7 p.m Saturday. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.