Louisville (1-1) at Kentucky (2-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 17th, 7:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Commonwealth Stadium (67,942) -- Lexington, Kentucky. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Louisville 1-1, Kentucky 0-0. Away Record: Louisville 0-0, Kentucky 1-0. Neutral Record: Louisville 0-0, Kentucky 1-0. Conference Record: Louisville 0-0, Kentucky 0-0. Series Record: Kentucky leads, 14-9.
GAME NOTES: For the fifth straight year the Kentucky Wildcats have won their first two games on their schedule, but for the team to make it three in a row coach Joker Phillips' squad will have to do so by defeating the rival Louisville in the Governor's Cup at Commonwealth Stadium.
This will be the 18th consecutive meeting between these two instate rivals, but the series started way back in 1912 when the Wildcats claimed a 41-0 victory. The Wildcats have won the last four matchups, including a 23-16 decision last season in Louisville.
Last year, the Wildcats opened the season with three straight wins, but finished just 6-7 on the season. So far the team has proven tough to beat by defeating Western Kentucky (14-3) and Central Michigan (27-13).
The Cardinals have not enjoyed similar results. In fact, Louisville could be in for a rough season. The team opened the year with a win, but it was a 21-9 decision at home over Murray State. That was followed by a stunning, 24-17 setback to FIU at home. The loss snapped the team's 17-game winning streak against opponents from the Sun Belt Conference, a streak that lasted almost 20 years.
Coach Charlie Strong's offense has been ineffective through two games, as Louisville is averaging only 19.0 ppg after playing Murray State and FIU.
The Cardinals have found little success on the ground, and even though the team is producing 121.0 ypg, coach Strong's squad is averaging just 3.1 yards pr attempt. In the loss to FIU, the Cardinals finished with just 83 yards on a mere 2.0 ypc.
Since the ground game has done very little, Will Stein has had to shoulder the brunt of the work. Despite a lack of protection, he still managed to throw for 349 yards and two touchdowns. However, he was intercepted once and sacked on six different occasions.
Stein has completed 62.7 percent of his throws, but the longer the ground game struggles to find openings the more Stein will take a beating in the backfield, especially when the Cardinals start conference play.
Even though the Cardinals were defeated by FIU, the defense did a solid job against the Panthers. Louisville surrendered just 293 total yards, and limited FIU to just 45 yards on 1.7 yards per attempt.
While there is not much to get excited about in terms of the offense, the defense has had plenty of positives, including a stout run defense. This is the area that all coaches want to see success and so far coach Strong's group is limiting the opposition to just 94.0 ypg on a weak 2.5 yards per attempt.
The Wildcats might be 2-0 on the year, but the team has been rather pedestrian in terms of offensive production. The majority of the team's success has come on the ground, as Kentucky is churning out 161.5 ypg.
In the recent win over Central Michigan, Phillips put the success of the offense in the hands of rushing attack, as Kentucky rumbled for 230 yards and two touchdowns on 37 carries.
Josh Clemons who was not very effective in the opener ran all over CMU and finished with 126 yards and one score on 14 carries. Raymond Sanders added 62 yards, while quarterback Morgan Newton contributed 43 yards to go along with one touchdown.
However, while Newton has helped out the rushing attack, the signal caller has not done much with his arm and his ineffectiveness has limited Kentucky thus far.
Newton already has four interceptions on the year, and against Central Michigan, the QB finished with just 114 yards and one touchdown. However, he completed just 9-of-18 passes, was intercepted once and sacked three times.
If Newton does not improve quickly opponents will start to key on the run and make things difficult for UK.
Even though the offense has not found its full potential the defense has been able to carry the team to two wins.
The Wildcats have done their job defensively, especially against the run, which was a problem for this unit a year ago. Through two games Kentucky has held the opposition to just 114.5 ypg and has yet to surrender a rushing touchdown after allowing 30 in 2010.
What has also helped coach Phillips' defense has been its ability to create turnovers. After two games Kentucky has already grabbed six interceptions. Two have come from Guy Winston, who is currently second on the team with 23 tackles.
This should be an interesting matchup considering Louisville has been successful at stopping the run, while Kentucky has relied heavily on its ground attack. Something will have to give this Saturday. The Wildcats should have the advantage since they have played well defensively and should be able to shut down a weak Cardinal offense.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kentucky 23, Louisville 10
09/14 10:35:53 ET