The Edge: UK vs. Western Kentucky


Wide receiver Randall Cobb attempts a touchdown during the game against Auburn at the Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday. The Cats won 21-14..Photo by Zach Brake

Key Matchups:

UK’s front 7 vs. RB Bobby Rainey

After giving up 190 rushing yards against Louisville, the Cats’ front 7 will be charged with the responsibility of stopping Rainey from making big plays out of the backfield. Rainey, a junior, ran for a career-high 155 yards, added a touchdown and was one of the few bright spots for the Hilltoppers in their season-opening 49-10 loss against then-No. 8 Nebraska. Dating back to last season, Rainey has three 100-yard games in his last four contests, and two years ago as a freshman, Rainey ran for a game-high 99 yards on nine carries against UK. Although UK junior linebacker Danny Trevathan tallied 11 tackles last week, more of the Cats up front will be expected to further assist Trevathan to minimize Rainey’s effectiveness.

Edge: UK’s front 7

UK’s running game vs. WKU’s defense

UK senior quarterback Mike Hartline won’t have to be counted on to make many plays this season if the UK running game continually executes like it did in the first quarter of the Cats’ season opener. Senior tailback Derrick Locke, sophomore tailback Donald Russell and junior wide receiver Randall Cobb formed a formidable three-pronged rushing attack to start the season, combining for 220 of the Cats’ 230 rushing yards and all three UK touchdowns. With a trio of running options, even when Locke or Cobb is hampered by cramps, a fresh body can be rotated in to take a few carries. Earlier in the week, UK head coach Joker Phillips said that one of the more impressive aspects of WKU was its size up front on both sides of the ball; whether or not WKU has enough depth on the defensive line to match UK’s fresh legs is a major question.

Edge: UK’s running game

UK head coach Joker Phillips vs. WKU head coach Willie Taggart

Both coaches started their head coaching careers in drastically different fashion last weekend. More importantly, the expectations each coach faces this weekend are drastically different, too. Phillips got the all-important win in the Commonwealth’s major rivalry, but the euphoria generated by that win will quickly dissipate assuming the Cats drop their home opener to a team that has lost 21 consecutive games—currently the longest streak in the nation. Phillips had a lot of teaching moments to draw from in the Louisville game and said that he has reminded his team that losing to WKU would almost certainly erase any chance for a “great season.” Saturday’s game will prove if Phillips effectively conveyed this warning to his players. Meanwhile, a win for Taggart, who managed to motivate his team to respond with 219 yards in the second half against Nebraska after moving the ball past midfield once in the first half, would surely make him a hero in Bowling Green, Ky.

Edge: Phillips

The Final Edge: Maximum edge in favor of UK.