Louisville is poised for a “big game” against Kentucky in the Governor’s Cup series

Rivalry week has arrived in bluegrass. Louisville visits Kentucky Saturday for the annual Governor’s Cup series.

It’s a series that hasn’t been kind to Louisville in recent years. The Cardinals lost three straight to the Wildcats averaging 37 points. Put another way, Kentucky has averaged 51 points over the past three games, while Louisville has averaged 44 points over that span.

This season, the two programs appear to be going in opposite directions when the game arrives. UofL have bounced back from a disappointing 2-3 start to the season and won five of their last six games to sit 7-4 overall and earn votes in the AP poll. Kentucky opened the season with four straight wins and peaked at No. 7 in the AP poll before losing five of the last seven to enter the game 6-5 and remain unranked.

As remarkable as all of those numbers are, none of it matters when teams start at Kroger Field.

UofL head coach Scott Satterfield seeks his first win in the rivalry.

“It’s huge. It’s a great game,” Satterfield said after his team’s 25-10 win over NC State who bleed that color blue. There are people in this city who bleed that color blue. We represent all people who bleed red and the Cardinal Nation. There are many things that go into this game.”

Kentucky’s strength is on the defensive side of the ball, where it ranks 19th nationwide by limiting opponents to just 321.2 yards per game. When playing against the pass, Britain’s defense really shines, allowing just 176 yards per game to sit 12th in the nation. The Wildcats average 335.5 yards per game offensively and finish 107th.

“They are a good football team. They have a great program,” Satterfield continued. “Coach Stoops has done an excellent job since he’s been there. He’s been there a while. We know what they got. You have great defense. They’re doing an incredible job on defense. Offensively, this year hasn’t been a great year for them on offense, but if they’re playing great defense, they don’t have to be great on offense. They can still be solid and good.”

Louisville last beat Kentucky in 2017 with a 44-17 win in Lexington. The Cardinals opened as four-point favorites over the Wildcats and the ESPN Football Power Index gives UofL a 56 percent chance of winning. Could the Cardinals return the Governor’s Cup trophy to the USA this year? Howard Schnellenberg Complex?

“I feel like we just have to do our job,” Linebacker said Jasir Abdullah said. “The preparation during the week must be great. We always go there, so we are ready.”

Despite losing three in a row, this year’s UofL squad is fully aware of the importance of the rivalry.

“When I was younger, the rivalry was just crazy,” Abdullah said. “The older guys, when I was younger, took it really seriously, so it’s embedded in me now.”

Cardinal sophomore and reserve quarterback Brock Domann reiterated Abdullah’s message of proper preparation.

“That’s a year-round boast,” Domann said. “Everyone knows this game will decide who has had a successful season in the eyes of the people of Kentucky. So we know we’re not going to take it lightly at all and we’re going to make sure we get our work done Monday through Friday, so we’re going to give ourselves an opportunity on Saturday.”

A win caps a rather remarkable comeback season for the Cardinals. From thoughts of a ruined season to the potential for an eighth win of the season, a win over rival Kentucky would certainly serve as an exclamation mark.

Opportunity awaits.

“We’re ready,” Linebacker said Monty Montgomery.

Kickoff is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. with SEC Network providing televised coverage.