Kentucky football looks to close out season with a win against biggest rival


Jack Weaver

Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Will Levis (7) throws a pass during the Kentucky vs. No. 1 Georgia football game on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. Georgia won 16-6. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Samantha Money, Assistant Sports Editor

Kentucky football (6-5) looks to close out its season with a win over in-state rival Louisville on Saturday.

The Wildcats enter the match with two straight losses courtesy of Vanderbilt and No. 1 Georgia, with the result against Louisville being the difference between a 7-5 or 6-6 season. 

While the home stretch of games for the Cats have not quite gone as fans had expected, UK has one last chance against their biggest rival to end the regular season on a high note and end the losing streak.

While Kentucky’s effort against the Commodores was far from its best this season, a much different team came to play Georgia the following weekend.

The Wildcats held the Bulldogs to just a single touchdown and arguably had one of their better defensive performances of the season.

Along with the defensive showing against UGA, freshman wide receiver Barion Brown recorded a personal victory against Georgia, racking up 145 receiving yards, his best of the season.

If Kentucky is able to maintain its form it showed in the Georgia game against Louisville, it is all but certain to be an exciting matchup.

The Wildcats currently lead the all-time series between the two rivals, winning the past three games against Louisville, most recently sinning 52-21 in 2021.

The Cardinals travel to Lexington following a 25-10 win over NC State, having found victory in five of their last six matchups, now finding themselves ranked for the first time this season.

The UofL defense has been noteworthy this season with the team currently leading college football in sacks, recording 41 total sacks for 269 yards.

The statistic could be detrimental for the Wildcats, with sacks being something that the UK offense has struggled with all season, costing the Cats 271 yards on 40 sacks.

One thing is for certain, the offensive line of Kentucky will face one of its toughest challenges of the season against Louisville.

On the offensive side for the Cardinals, it is unclear whether or not starting quarterback Malik Cunningham will see minutes in Lexington as he did not play in Louisville’s last matchup due to a shoulder injury. He is listed as a “game-time decision.”

Cunningham currently leads Louisville in both passing and rushing yards, meaning his absence would surely be missed by the Cardinals in the Governor’s Cup battle.

When looking at the two opposing quarterbacks, Kentucky’s Will Levis has amassed 2,218 total yards for 17 touchdowns compared to Cunningham’s 1,552 total yards for 8 touchdowns.

Despite Cunningham also leading UofL in rushing yards with 561 yards total, sophomore Jawhar Jordan will be a running back to watch out for. Jordan had a powerful game against NC State in Cunningham’s absence, rushing for 117 total yards and two touchdowns.

For the Cats, senior Chris Rodriguez Jr. leads the team with 784 rushing yards despite missing the first four games of the season for suspension. 

With home field advantage on its side, Kentucky has all of the pieces it needs to end the regular season with a win, but the Wildcats have struggled in games they could, or should, have won this season.

Kentucky must give it everything it has in order to go into its bowl game with confidence and to keep the Governor’s Cup trophy in Lexington.

Kentucky and Louisville will kick off on Saturday, Nov. 26, at 3 p.m. EST in Lexington. The game will be aired on the SEC Network.