It’s that time of the year; the Governor’s Cup stirs up the Commonwealth with a Thanksgiving week showdown looming on Saturday. Louisville most likely had its Playoff hopes demolished by losing 36-10 at Houston. Kentucky snoozed its way to a 49-13 win over hapless Austin Peay to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2010.
The Cardinals have whiplashed opponents when it starts fast. However, Louisville has also fumbled and slept walked its way for 60 minutes following slow starts. Saturday’s game will feature the best player in college football: QB Lamar Jackson. Jackson is the most dynamic offensive player in recent memory. Kentucky will have its hands full in trying to keep the super-sophomore out of the end zone.
The Wildcats are averaging 5.45 yards per rush while breaking numerous program records on the ground. RB’s Benny Snell and Boom Williams have both surpassed the 1,000-yard mark. There are 3 factors that will decide the football game: 1. Can the Wildcats slow Lamar Jackson? 2. Both teams rank in the bottom of college football in turnovers. So, which team will have the fewest giveaways? 3. UofL is allowing just 92 rush yards per game. UK is running for 242 per. So, either a powerful UK rushing attack or the stingy Louisville run defense will prevail which will have a significant impact on the scoreboard.
Let’s take a look at the Louisville Cardinals:
QUALITY WIN(S): 63-20 vs. Florida State
WORST LOSS: 10-36 vs. Houston
Lamar Jackson has all but won the Heisman Trophy. His allotment of tall, fast receivers presents a danger to the Wildcats. Jackson is most threatening when running the football. Kentucky has historically struggled vs. running quarterbacks. Jackson’s offensive line was exposed in Thursday’s loss at Houston.
Bobby Petrino is one of the most accomplished play callers in all of college football. His playbook runs deep; its effectiveness is normally on display in the second half after adjustments are made.
By the Numbers
Scoring: 46 points per game
Rush: 354.6 yards per game
3rd Down: 43.33%
Red Zone: 56/66, 43 TD’s
Fumbles: 28, lost 20
QB Sacks Allowed: 36
Penalties: 74.09 yards per game.
Three Best Players
QB Lamar Jackson
-Rushing: 209 carries, 1645 yards, 19 TD’s, 6.5 yards per carry, 124 yards per game
-Passing: 204-357, 3109 yards, 6 INT’s, 57.14%, 282 per game.
TE Cole Hikutini
-42 receptions, 556 yards, 7 TD’s
-Hikutini will be the best TE that the Wildcats will face in 2016.
RB Brandon Radcliff
-116 carries, 787 yards, 6.8 per, 71.55 per game.
LB Keith Kelsey is yet another elite inside linebacker that UK will have faced in 2016. James Hearns and Devonte Fields are scary pass rushers with a high number of tackles for loss. DT Deangelo Brown is an inside, run-stopping force. While all eyes have been focused on Lamar Jackson, the Cardinal defense has been at times dominant.
By the Numbers
Scoring: 21.73 points per game
Rush: 99.2 yards per game
QB Sacks: 29
3rd Down: 27.9%
Red Zone: 26/30, 19 TD’s
PIC BY INSIDER LOUISVILLE
Three Best Players
LB Keith Kelsey
-74 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1 QB sack
DT Deangelo Brown
-12 tackles for loss, 3 sacks
OLB’s James Hearns/Devonte Fields
-Combined for: 81 combined tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 13 QB sacks
Most Dangerous Threats
-Punt returner Jaire Alexander: 18 returns, 204 yards, 11.3 per, 1 TD.
-Punter Mason King: 44 punts, 42.3 yards per.
What does all this mean?
-Lamar Jackson is the best football player in America and will most likely win the Heisman Trophy. UK must find a way to slow him down in order to have a puncher’s chance to win the football game.
-The Cards only allow 99 rush yards per game; UK runs for 242. Petrino opponents that have rushed for over 200-yards have beaten his teams on 5 consecutive occasions.
-Rushing for more than 200-yards is the benchmark for a UK win.
-With a bowl game in tow, Mark Stoops and his Wildcats can play with no barriers or restrictions in this year’s version of the Governor’s Cup. Let it fly; but it’s equally as important for Kentucky to be Kentucky by staying true to its power run game.