Every college football fan could call themselves an expert, perhaps even more so for some Kentucky fans. Forecasting upsets, betting the spread (and winning) and finding significance in statistical analysis are concepts any Joe Schmoe could figure out. However, something that Mr. Schmoe can’t do is run over 100 game simulations using complicated computer algorithms. WhatIfSports.com prediction engine can, and it is cranking out results for week one of the college football season. A year ago, WIS went 579-198 in its predictions (74.5 percent accurate), so the formula works.
The results of the WIS simulation for Kentucky vs. Louisville had the Cardinals winning 61.9 percent of the time, by an average score of 23.4—18.2, a much smaller margin than the -13.5 spread Vegas laid down.
One statistic which has favored the winner of the Governor’s Cup for the past 13 years is the running game. Quite simply, the team with the most total yards has always won the game. The projection from WIS for Sunday holds that tradition true, predicting the Cardinals to out-rush the Cats by five yards, 125 to 120.
The passing game favors Louisville as well, according to WIS. With Maxwell Smith behind center, the Cats complete 17 passes on 32 attempts for 196 yards. On the other side, Teddy Bridgewater and UofL have 19 completions on 32 attempts for 240 yards.
Both the running game and passing game considered Louisville only has a slight advantage in either — not a monumental leap ahead for the Cards like some fans on both sides believe. The running game is a push; five yards give-or-take for either side isn’t enough to call it for anyone. The passing game goes to Louisville only because of their total yards being 42 yards extra. Breaking it down, though, it’s only a difference of an average of one-yard more per pass.
Summing it all up, Louisville’s biggest advantage in this projection is the first downs. The Cardinals moved the chains four more times than the Wildcats, which could be attributed to those 42 extra passing yards. That is a significant reason for the five-point victory overall for the bad guys. The projection clearly favors Louisville, but the statistics show this game will be very very close. When the tides are close and the underdog is hungry in a rivalry game, crazy things can happen.