West Virginia is 6-10 in games played in the state of Kentucky. The Mountaineers are 4-1 in Louisville, and 2-8 in Lexington. What other location has West Virginia journeyed to for a game in the Bluegrass State? Answer at the end of this space.
With its stadium expanded to a capacity of 55,000 this year, it's no surprise to see that the top six home crowds in Cardinal history are its six home games this year. However, attendance has been trending down, with a season low 43,887 turning out for the USF game last week. Some of that decline could be due to the opening of basketball season, which holds much greater interest for Louisville fans. An unscientific scan of local media shows much more coverage of basketball than football recently – even extending to an exhibition game earlier this month.
Of course the opening of the KFC Yum! Center (can't help giggling as I write that) brought more attention to the hardwood version of the Cardinals, but it also brings to mind two questions. When was the last time a school opened, or unveiled major renovations and additions, to both of its major athletics venues in the same year? And is there a more awkwardly-named duo than "KFC Yum Center!" and "Papa John's Cardinal Stadium" in the nation?
ADJUSTMENTS OR DEPTH?
Louisville shows classic signs of a team still fighting to find necessary depth. The Cardinals have scored 177 points in the first half this year, but just 85 in the second. Some might point to "adjustments" by opposing defenses as the reason for this drop-off, but a more valid argument is that the rebuilding program is still trying to develop the across-the-board talent required to be consistent in all three phases of the game.
The Cardinal defense, however, might be a bit further down that road. UofL has given up 102 first half points and 89 second half points this year, and has been improving, especially over its last four game stretch, when it has yielded fewer than 260 yards to UConn, Pitt, Syracuse and USF. During that span, the Louisville defense has allowed an average of just 241.2 yards of total offense and 113.0 yards through the air. Louisville has limited its opponents to just two passing touchdowns in the last four games after giving up five to Cincinnati.
SPREADING IT AROUND
Both Louisville and West Virginia are adept at getting the ball to different players in the passing game. The Cardinals have seven players with 10 or more receptions, including three with over twenty. Senior Doug Beaumont leads the team with 33 receptions, tight end Cameron Graham is second with 27, and junior Josh Bellamy has 25.
The game will mark Senior Day for Louisville as 24 players will be introduced for their final home game. The Cardinals have lost their last two Senior Day contests. Louisville defeated Rutgers 41-38 in 2007 for its last senior day win.
We all know that Jock Sanders is just three catches away from becoming WVU's all-time leader in pass receptions. His 189 catches trail David Saunders by just two. But Sanders is also moving up on other lists as well. He's currently tenth on the all-time career receiving touchdown list with 14, and has at least an outside shot of finishing as high as third, where Darius Reynaud and Khori Ivy currently reside with 19 scores. With at least one catch in each of the final three regular season games, Sanders will also become WVU's all-time leader in consecutive games with a reception. He currently stands at 38, two games behind Ivy.
RECORD WATCH II
Quarterback Geno Smith has a chance to put up the best sophomore passing numbers in WVU history. With 1,870 yards through the air this year, Smith trails sophomore standard-setter Marc Bulger by 595 yards, and needs to average just 149 yards per game to surpass his mark.
Smith has an outside shot to set two other all-time single season marks, both of which are currently held by Bulger. Smith has 19 touchdown passes and 178 pass completions this year, trailing Bulger's 31 scoring strikes and 274 completions from the 1998 season.
West Virginia played Centre College in Danville, Ky., on Nov. 30, 1896. If you got that without looking it up online or in a media guide, we may have a job for you.