The seventeenth-ranked Kentucky Wildcats will make the short drive to Louisville this Saturday to take on the 2-9 Cardinals. To say it’s been a bad season for UofL would be an understatement, but Mark Stoops doesn’t care.
“In a rivalry game you can throw the records out the window. We’re worried about ourselves and playing the best football we can,” Stoops said at Monday’s press conference. “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.”
I don’t know how many signs of good football UofL could have possibly shown this season, but Stoops is wise to take this approach. Crazy things have happened in the Governor’s Cup. Each side has had its fair share of upsets and scuffles. Last year’s game at Kroger Field got particularly ugly.
“That wasn’t a very good moment for any of us but we’ve all learned from it,” he said. “We always have to play with that edge and that mentality and play physical, but we have to play disciplined football.”
Stoops relishes the emotional moments in the rivalry. It helped carry the Cats to an incredible upset two years ago at Cardinal Stadium. However, he must make sure his experienced team strikes the right balance leading into Saturday’s game.
Last Saturday was emotional on each side. Sixteen seniors said goodbye to Kroger Field while the Wildcats welcomed Josh Paschal back onto the field. In Louisville, the Cards played their first game without Bobby Petrino. They rallied for a half, until N.C. State pulled away with an easy 52-10 win. Stoops did not see any significant differences in scheme from the Cardinals.
“They did what they did this past week. Obviously the play-caller is different, but they still stuck with their offense.” He added, “They’re not going to re-invent the wheel in the last week, they’re going to play the system that they’ve played.”
You can throw away the records, but Louisville’s system created one terrible record. If the Cats balance their emotions and prepare to play disciplined football, it should be a fun season finale for Kentucky fans at Cardinal Stadium.