Brian Bennett of the Big East Blog has been previewing the Week 1 games for each Big East team, and today Bennett gave us his breakdown of the Louisville and Kentucky match up.
KEEP IN MIND, THIS IS BENNET’S PREVIEW NOT MINE!
Opponent: Kentucky Mike Hartline began the year under center, struggled and got hurt, leaving freshman Morgan Newton in charge. Hartline, a senior, appeared to have the edge in the position battle this spring. The passing game needs to improve drastically.Derrick Locke and one of the most versatile players in the SEC in receiver/runner/passer Randall Cobb. Only one starter is back on the offensive line.
Coach: Joker Phillips (first year)
2009 record: 7-6 (3-5 SEC)
Returning starters: 12 (5 offense/ 7 defense)
About the Wildcats: Kentucky has made four straight bowl games, rising up at about the same time Louisville took a dip under Steve Kragthorpe. Rich Brooks retired after the season, turning the program over to his hand-picked successor and former offensive coordinator, Phillips. The Wildcats struggled on offense last year, especially at quarterback.
The team brings back its leading rusher in
The Wildcats also lost several key pieces on defense, including cornerback Trevard Lindley, linebacker Micah Johnson and defensive lineman Corey Peters. Leading sack man DeQuin Evans returns, and Kentucky is counting on younger players to assume a bigger role on that side of the ball.
Random factoid: Louisville had won four in a row in this series until Kragthorpe came to town. Now Kentucky is seeking its fourth straight win in the Governor’s Cup rivalry. That’s still better than the first six games of this series, from 1912 to 1924, when the Cardinals not only lost every game but failed to score.
My totally unscientific percentage chance that Louisville wins this game: 49.9 percent. Kentucky deserves to be favored based on its more successful recent history. But Louisville will be at home, playing its first game for Charlie Strong and for the first time in expanded Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Plus, the Wildcats have a new head coach, too, and remain unsettled at quarterback. This looks like a classic toss-up rivalry game.
My Ridiculously Early Prediction
I think the winner of this game will be whoever can stop the run. Over the past ten years, the team with the most rushing yards has come away with the Governors Cup. Louisville has a lot of depth at the tailback position this year with guys like Victor Anderson, Bilal Powell, and redshirt freshman Jeremy Wright. If all three are healthy on September 4th, I don’t see Kentucky being able to contain Louisville’s ground attack. It is still a little early to preview or predict this match up, but rest assure we will dive head first into the topic in August.<