Picking a winner for the annual Governor’s Cup meeting between Kentucky and Louisville? Instead of sizing up all units on the field, just decide who has the better running game. It’s that simple. The winner of the last 13 meetings between the two teams, dating back to 1999, has always outrushed the opposing team. Furthermore, ten times in those 13 meetings the leading rusher from the winning team has outrushed the entire losing team combined.
Going back to 2007 when Kentucky’s four-game winning streak over the Cardinals began the ground attack was solid, and as history suggests, a key reason for winning the games. Rafael Little led the Cats with 151 yards on 27 carries, single handedly outrushing Louisville’s 101-yard total and Anthony Allen’s 96-yard contribution.
The following year in 2008 was uglier, but the trend remains true. Tony Dixon and Derrick Locke paced Kentucky’s running game with a combined 52 yards, chipping in to the 63-yard total. On the other side, Victor Anderson mustered only 31 rushing yards on 12 attempts. Even in bad years, the running game determines the winner.
Kentucky bounced back in 2009, with Locke taking over the starting duties and running for 72 yards on the Cardinals. Alfonso Smith added 45, and John Connor 28 as Kentucky piled up 168 yards on 33 attempts, good for over five-yards per carry. Louisville’s Victor Anderson had a solid game, adding 110 yards on 19 carries, but it wasn’t enough. Even in the good years, the running game determines the winner.
In 2010 Kentucky had its best running game of the four-game stretch; Locke rushed for 104 yards while Randall Cobb got loose, adding 80 yards on only four carries. The 230 total yards outrushed Louisville’s 190, who were led by Bilal Powell’s 153-yards. Even in their better years, the running game still determines the winner.
Finally, in 2011 Kentucky’s winning streak over their rivals was snapped. Louisville reeled off 181 total yards, blowing past Kentucky’s 35-yard total. It comes as no surprise that the rushing leader in this contest resulted in the winner.
It’s a simple conclusion that more rushing yards equals a better chance of winning, but the fact that both teams had up and down years in their ground attacks suggests the relationship is uncanny. Now in 2012, you take your pick… Is a veteran CoShik Williams, a healthy Raymond Sanders and Josh Clemons, or an unknown Dy’shawn Mobley enough to out-run Louisville? The Cardinals return Dominique Brown and Jeremy Wright who torched the Cats for a combined 147 yards of the team’s 181-yard total last season. If 13 years of history repeats itself in this rivalry once again, look for the running game to tell the story.