For Louisville coach Steve Kragthope, the biggest unknowns are a linebacker crew that features three first-time starters and a wide receiver corps that is long on potential but short on experience.
For Kentucky coach Rich Brooks, the biggest questions marks are on offense where the Wildcats must replace several departed stars, including quarterback Andre Woodson, running back Raphael Little, wide receivers Keenan Burton and Stevie Johnson and tight end Jacob Tamme.
some answers against UK.
Louisville also has a lot of question marks on defense. Fortunately for Louisville defensive coordinator Ron English, Kentucky has just as many questions on offense. Call it a wash.
On the other side, Kentucky's run defense was highly suspect in 2007, surrendering 191 yards per game on the ground. Whether Louisville can take advantage of the Wildcats on the ground remains to be seen.
Those question marks on both sides have made this contest virtually impossible to predict.
Louisville enters the contest a slight betting favorite. The Cardinals have also won seven of the past nine meetings between the two programs. Kentucky, however, won last season's contest 40-34 in Lexington – Brooks' first win over the Cardinals in five attempts.
If there's a clear advantage for one team it might be provided by Louisville starting quarterback Hunter Cantwell. While Kentucky is counting on unproven quarterback Mike Hartline against the Cardinals, Louisville knows the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Cantwell can deliver a win.
Hartline will make his first career start against Louisville in what should be a hostile PJCS. Cantwell, though, already has plenty of experience under the bright, game-day lights.
Considered one of the nation's top NFL prospects at the quarterback position, Cantwell has a career 3-1 record as UofL's starting quarterback. Cantwell led Louisville to road wins over UConn, Kansas State and Middle Tennessee State in 2005 and 2006. His lone loss came against Virginia Tech in the 2005 Toyota Gator Bowl – a game Louisville led into the fourth quarter.
Cantwell will make his first start at home against Kentucky.
"I'm really comfortable with my teammates and I know what I need to do to lead this offense," Cantwell said. "(Kentucky) has a very good defense. Their DB's are very good at jamming receivers, they've got a great linebacker corps and their defensive line is going to cause havoc upfront."
While Cantwell has a big arm for Louisville, the Cardinals have some concern at wide receiver with starter Scott Long sidelined with a foot injury. Cantwell will rely on a slew of inexperienced receivers to move the ball against Kentucky's solid pass defense.
While Louisville is confident in Cantwell's arm, the Cardinals certainly plan to test Kentucky on the ground with Brock Bolen, Bilal Powell and Victor Anderson. True freshman Darius Ashley might also factor into the game-plan. If Louisville can move the ball on the ground it would take tremendous pressure off the Cardinals inexperienced defense.
"We want to run the football well because it sets up our play action passing game and we want to be balanced," Kragthorpe said. "I think we're running the ball physically and with some toughness and we're going to have to do that to be a good football team. We want to be able to control the tempo of the game."
Kentucky also will test Louisville's thin defense on the ground with the potent one-two punch of Tony Dixon and Derrick Locke. The Wildcats could also use freshman Randall Cobb at quarterback. Cobb is considered a dangerous running threat.
"We have to make some hypotheses about what we think they will do with Mike (Hartline) or (Randall) Cobb in the game," Kragthorpe said. "I know everybody talks about Cobb being a guy that's going to run the ball but he can throw the ball too. He's a talented guy. So we anticipate seeing both of those guys."
The game will kick-off at 3:30 and will be televised live on ESPN.
Fans are encouraged to wear red to Louisville's nationally televised showdown with Kentucky on August 31 as the Cards will look to "Red Out the Wildcats" at 3:30 p.m. at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
Traffic for the University of Louisville's football season opener against Kentucky on Aug. 31 should not be significantly affected by the local Ironman competition, a race which will run simultaneously for most of the day of the football game.
One change to normal stadium traffic is that fans will not be permitted access from the north on Third Street. Fans will be restricted from reaching Third Street via Eastern Parkway. Also, vehicle and pedestrian traffic west of Fourth Street will not be able to cross toward the stadium. Traffic to the stadium Bronze lot (formerly the Red lot) will be unchanged.