Breaking down the Governor's Cup matchup between the Kentucky Wildcats and Louisville Cardinals

This AllWildcats.com feature gives you everything you need to know about the Kentucky Wildcats' matchup with the Louisville Cardinals on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium with the Governor's Cup hanging in the balance.

KENTUCKY vs. LOUISVILLE

WHEN: SATURDAY, NOV. 28, NOON ET

WHERE: COMMONWEALTH STADIUM (61,000) LEXINGTON, KY

TV: SEC NETWORK

KENTUCKY WILDCATS

Record: 5-6, 2-6 Southeastern Conference

Ranking: Not ranked

Coach: Mark Stoops (Iowa, 1989) Record: 12-23 (Third season); at UK: 12-23 (Third season); vs. UL: 0-2

Last Game: W, 58-10 vs. Charlotte

LOUISVILLE CARDINALS

Record: 6-5, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference

Ranking: Not ranked

Coach: Bobby Petrino (Carroll College, 1983) Record: 98-39 (11th season) at UL; 56-18 (Sixth season); vs. UK: 6-1

Last Game: L, 45-34 at Pittsburgh

*****

Series Record: UK leads, 14-13

In Lexington: Series tied, 8-8

Last Meeting: UL won 44-40 (at Louisville)

BIG BLUE KEYS TO THE GAME:

When Kentucky has the ball… The Cats must find a way to duplicate their ground attack from last week's blowout of Charlotte, albeit against a much more formidable opponent. Kentucky is coming off a 415-yard rushing effort, the fourth-highest total in school history, a figure that helped keep pressure off first-time starting quarterback Drew Barker. The Cats' pass protection has been shaky all season, but their run blocking has been strong at times. They'll need a steady dose of Boom Williams (126 yards, 2 TD in last year's matchup), Jojo Kemp, Mikel Horton and Sihiem King moving the chains to beat the Cards, who have the No. 17 rush defense in the country (121 ypg, 3.2 ypa). Remember, with the exception of last year, the last 18 winners of the Governor's Cup has been the team that rushed for the most yards, so UK offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson has to stay committed to the run game, even if the Cards are stacking the box and allowing only three yards per pop. The Cats cannot win this matchup with Barker dropping back to pass 40-plus times. That's asking way too much of him at this stage in his development. Junior linebacker Keith Kelsey (No. 55, 6-1, 235) is a major playmaker for the UofL defense with 98 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks and 5.0 QBH. UK must account for him at all times, as well as outside linebacker Trevon Young (No. 91, 6-4, 237) who leads the Cards with 8.5 sacks on the season.

When Louisville has the ball… The Cats have to be strong early in the down sequence, force the Cards into obvious passing situations, and create pressure on the quarterback, whether it's dual-threat Lamar Jackson or pro-style Kyle Bolin getting most of the snaps Saturday. The duo has combined to complete only 57 percent of their passes for 16 touchdowns and tossed 11 interceptions this season, numbers you don't typically associate with a Bobby Petrino offense. Louisville has substantial issues along the O-Line, ranking dead last in the FBS ranks in sacks allowed (43) and near the bottom of the national ranks in negative-yardage plays (86). Look for UK to dial up some creative blitz packages with UofL lacking a big deep threat like Devante Parker, who decimated the Cats' secondary for 180 yards and three touchdowns in last year's matchup before moving on to the Miami Dolphins. This year, Louisville junior wideout Jamari Staples (No. 2, 6-4, 196) is a concern. He's got 35 receptions for 599 yards and three scores on the season. An entertaining individual matchup could be between Staples and UK's 6-4 freshman corner, Chris Westry.

MILESTONE WATCH:

Junior wide receiver Ryan Timmons needs 30 yards to become the 25th player in school history to reach 1,000 career receiving yards… Junior running back Jojo Kemp needs 25 yards to pass Alfred Rawls (1988-89) and move into 21st on UK’s all-time rushing leaders list… Sophomore running back Boom Williams needs 10 yards rushing to pass Randall Cobb (2008-2010) for 24th in UK history… Sophomore receiver Garrett Johnson needs 76 yards to become the 25th player in school history to reach 1,000 receiving yards.

ON THIS DAY IN UK HISTORY:

Kentucky has very few November 28 games in its football history, the most recent coming in 2009 when the Cats dropped a 30-24 overtime decision to Tennessee. Prior to that game, the last one on this date was a 27-0 win over Tennessee in 1935.

NOTES:

  • The Governor’s Cup was created in 1994, awarded to the winner of the annual Kentucky-Louisville game.
  • This is the second time the teams have played in the regular-season finale, also done in 2014.
  • A win would make Kentucky bowl eligible for the first time since the 2010 season.
  • The Cats are attempting to go 4-0 in non-conference play.
  • UK has won 27 straight games win taking a lead into the fourth quarter (10-0 under Stoops) the longest streak in the SEC.
  • The Cats and Cards have a common opponent in Auburn. Louisville lost to the Tigers 31-24 in the season opener at Atlanta; UK lost 30-27 at home to the Tigers in October.
  • Seventeen UK seniors and two juniors forgoing their final year of eligibility will be honored before the game in "Senior Day" ceremonies at Commonwealth Stadium.

AllWildcats Top Stories